On March 19th, over 100 young people and staff gathered online for the ERA For Change Launch Day, exploring the theme “How to Be a Change Maker” in our world today. The Launch Day aimed to connect students and teachers in our national network to facilitate advocacy-based conversations. Participants attend different workshops to develop their advocacy skills and knowledge to become change makers. The overall aim of the Launch Day was to empower students and teachers to continue their advocacy activities in their own school and begin preparations to introduce national advocacy projects in 2021.
Era For Change Launch Day Reflection
Our global society is divided by unimaginable levels of inequality. Quite often, we have ideas, ambitions and a desire to make change, but sometimes feel powerless in our efforts…and don’t know where to begin.
Opening the 2021 ERA for Change Launch Day, Jessica Dewhurst - a leader in Human Rights Advocacy and founder of The Justice Desk, reminded us of the power invested in youth. Listening to her story, her passion and her goals for the future, Jessica sparked a fire inside of every student, including myself, a fire fuelled by a desire to make change. (You can view Jessica's keynote speaker video here).
Following a successful keynote presentation, I was involved in two main workshops, “She’s Someone Campaign” and “Advocacy on a Diplomatic Level.” Despite this, the group of students from my school participating in Launch Day, shared their experiences and notes from all workshops, which leads me to my first main taking, the concept of starting with an idea and “Planning a Campaign.”
At my own school, St Laurence’s College in South Brisbane, each House has a designated mission, yet sometimes engaging students is the most challenging part. From the workshop “Planning a Campaign”, students from my school were taught the importance of ‘educating your peers’ as a means to encourage and empower students. Something which I believe is essential to any campaign.
Following this workshop, we also had the opportunity to engage in “Making the Most of Social Media,” and “Get Your Event Up and Running” workshops. These workshops’ outlined how influential social media is in our society, and reinforced that your community is more likely to support your cause, when they know where donations are going and exactly what change you are making. The power of social media and how we can promote causes even on a national level, whether it be through the ERA for Change Instagram, local newspapers or TV stations, is definitely something I believe we should further utilise across all advocacy platforms.
Furthermore, in the workshops’ “Turning Anger into Action” and “Working in Solidarity With Others,” I learnt of the importance of ‘peaceful protests’ and ‘presenting as a united front’. This idea of unity is something I believe is vital to; the ERA for Change representatives, ER schools’ and even my own community to remember, as the simple notion of ‘more voices enforces change’ can take advocacy to the next level. Something which presenter and founder of Orange Sky Laundry, Nic, further explained.
In my own workshop, “She’s Someone Campaign,” I was equipped with resources, inspiring ideas and learnt how to target and engage with the ‘male mindset’ in the most effective way. I firmly believe that this year in my own school community, we will adopt ‘mother-son interactions’ and ‘tie day’ as methods to spread awareness and education of the importance of respecting and treating all women equally across our global society.
The tools to make change on a political level were also expressed to me in the “Advocacy on a Diplomatic Level” workshop, where I learnt that sometimes ‘less is more’ when it comes to the number of things you do, and that focusing on one main idea and cause as an individual, will allow you to better make change. This is something I believe could be adopted on a national level, where each month all ER schools present as a united front with one cause, thus working in solidarity.
Overall my experience at Launch Day this year has empowered and inspired me with an understanding of how to make change both more effectively, and where to go from having a simple idea to creating global change like Jessica Dewhurst. The online workshop experiences from students’ in my own school were all positive, and like many I can’t wait to see what next year has to offer.
In the meantime, I have an idea to plan for…
By Luke Klisanin