Our generation has copped a fair bit of criticism, ranging from being too entitled,
to being selfish and lazy. Of course, this far from the truth – students are facing
tougher challenges and working harder than previous generations. There’s good
reason for us to say that it’s tough being a millennial.
Now, ahead of the 2016 Federal Election, we’re criticised for being politically
disengaged. Being a part of VGen, I was quick at first to defend us millennials –
we’re extremely vocal about the issues we care about.
However, statistics have backed up the fact that we’ve been drastically
underrepresented in the voting space. Shockingly, nearly half of all 18-year- olds
were not enrolled to vote when the Federal Election was announced earlier this
There are many explanations for this, but some of the reasons for young people
not voting or not voting properly are that:
we lack confidence in our understanding of politics,
we feel powerless about the democratic process,
we feel that no party truly represents our values.
After a number of awareness campaigns encouraging young Aussies to enrol,
there are now 1.66 million voters under 25 enrolled to vote in the Federal
Election – a record number!
Here’s the thing: regardless of how much you feel you know or don’t know, your
voice matters. Your vote matters. While we all don’t have degrees in politics, we
can definitely educate ourselves on the decision we get to make in the polling
booth. Watch and listen to what your politicians have to say and know where
they stand on issues that matter to you. Speak to your friends and your
workmates. Do some research – listen to the opinions of thought leaders; browse
the websites of the political parties or check their Facebook and Twitter
accounts. It’s easier than ever before to see what our pollies are up to.
So, if you haven’t made up your mind on what party to vote for (like 60% of us),
start with Google. Check out some of the great tools like Vote Compass that help
you figure out what party best represents your views. Don’t just limit your
knowledge to the political ads you’ve seen on TV and online. And if you see those
local MPs handing out flyers on the street, don’t just take a flyer and walk off –
throw questions their way!
On the other hand, if you feel powerless about the democratic process, you
should know this: millennials make up almost 20% of eligible voters. If we were
all apathetic, Australia would lose one fifth of its voice.
What if no political party addresses your concerns? Make it known to them.
Write to your local MP, start a petition, or simply send them a Tweet. Politicians
are supposed to represent our values; let them know what you support and the
changes you want to see.
So get out there on July 2 and make your voice heard. The people we elect help to
shape the country and world we inherit. Your vote matters.
http://theconversation.com/many-young- people-arent- enrolled-to- vote-but-
are-we- asking-them- the-wrong- question-59248
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06- 19/election-2016- young-victorians-
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/young-voters- should-form- their-own- party-
We are lucky to live in a country where children are afforded their human right to an education – in fact it is a legal requirement for Australian kids to attend school. We have a legal minimum working age, strict work and safety requirements and the right to be paid a minimum wage.
Unfortunately not all children are so lucky. There are still 168 million children involved in child labour in a range of industries – from agriculture to manufacturing, services to construction, and textiles to fashion.
So why is this still happening?
In industries, such as fashion, the demand for products is huge and there is an overwhelming emphasis on quick supply. This growing culture of fast fashion and consumerism is pushing companies to find ever-cheaper sources of labour in an effort to keep costs down and profits up.
The reality is that children make good sources of cheap labour because they slip under the radar. They are seen as low-skilled workers without a voice, and so they are easy targets. Employers of children get away with it because supply chains have become incredibly complex and it is hard for companies to control every stage of production. Even if big brands appear to condemn acts of exploitation on the surface, it is hard for them and their consumers to know what is happening further down the line.
That is why the focus of the ILO’s 2016 World Day against Child Labour is on supply chains. Its aim is to encourage enterprises to be vigilant in ensuring that their supply chains are free from child labour, and to encourage consumers to hold companies accountable for their actions.
What can we do to help?
The power we have as consumers is greater than you might think. No company will continue a practice or product that you the consumer will not buy. If we can demand greater transparency in supply chains and encourage companies to know exactly who is making their products we can help put an end to child labour.
One way you can do this is by supporting VGen’s #EndChildLabour campaign which is encouraging young Australians to ask…what are we buying into? When we purchase a cup of coffee from our favourite cafe, or a new t-shirt from that brand we really like our money is potentially supporting the systems that fuel child labour. By purchasing more ethical products and making informed decisions about which products you buy you can change this.
There are heaps of resources out there to help you make more ethical decisions. Check these out:
Why not tell others about the issue and about how they can be part of the solution by using the hashtag #EndChildLabour.
– Written by Courtney, NSW Communications Officer
Imagine yourself walking along a dirt road. You see nothing except for miles and miles of rubbish. You suddenly feel lost – am I in the right place? This isn’t fit for any kind of habitation. Yet for many men, women and children, this is their daily reality.
There is so much more than just rubbish in this place; a sense of hopelessness lingers. As the local school principal explains, the chance a child in this village can break the poverty cycle is slim. They are trapped.
The story told by Caitlin Figueiredo, who visited Cambodia with VGen to learn more about the Battambang community there, made everyone’s heart sink. After returning, she worked with VGen ACT to deliver this discussion forum – ’Australian Aid – Why Does It Matter?’ In particular, she hoped to engage more young people in the dialogue around Australian aid, community development and solution to the extreme hardship faced by children in developing regions.
A panel featuring a federal MP and young NGO leaders shared their experiences on working with impoverished communities and offered their perspectives on Australian Aid. The panel comprised of Gai Brodtmann (MP of Canberra), Jeeven Nadanakumar (World Vision representative), Cameron Allan (Community Organiser at Oaktree) and Caitlin Figueiredo (Australian Global Resolutions Ambassador & Director of VGen ACT).
The dialogue around Australian Aid is a sensitive one. Gai emphasised that there are heartfelt reasons both for and against aid, and characterising opposition arguments as selfish or heartless is not productive. “We must respond more meaningfully. Any spending of tax payer’s money is not beyond justification.” A meaningful conversation should aim to resolve the two common concerns: 1) can it do the work, 2) why should we do it?
Australian Aid in Real Times
The panelists, having done aid-related work and witnessed Australian Aid working miracles in Asia-Pacific communities, collectively emphasised that Australian Aid has an overwhelmingly positive impact on local communities. Gai shared the story of how a simple water container provided by Australian Aid transformed the life of a Cambodian single mother, Tham. Tham and her children used to survive on 25 cents a week and struggled to make ends meet. The water container allowed Tham to carry more water, leaving her with more time to focus on income generation. Now, not only does she make more money in a week than she used to in a year, she can support her children in pursuing further education and their dream to become teachers – all thanks to a simple water container supported by Australian Aid. Without this simple tool, her children would not have had the opportunity to escape the deep-rooted poverty cycle – maintained through a combination of malnutrition, lack of proper education and financial hardships. As such, a well-structured community and evidence-based aid program are instrumental in breaking the poverty cycle. Caitlin also recalled the moment she saw the Peshawar School for Peace, funded by Australian Aid, which has educated many children since being opened.
Jeeven Nadanakumar further emphasized the “It is under-appreciated by the public that Australian Aid is not just goodwill, but also a wise economic choice”. South Korea, for example, went from receiving aid (US $13 billion over a 45 year period from the international community) after the Korean War to becoming Australia’s fourth largest trading partner in trade (US $30 billion bilateral trade revenue in 2014) and a generous aid donor. We as Australians, benefit remarkably from our neighbours’ economic growth. Partnerships of this kind foster healthy diplomatic and trade relationships in our region, which has seen increased stability in our region.
Problems and Future Directions
envisioned efficient NGOs to be crucial players in this conversation about aid, as well as the long-standing combat against poverty. He would like NGOs to learn from companies. They should dare to recruit the brightest minds through adequate remuneration, dare to put more resources into marketing, and dare to have more long-term plans. He would like to bring everyone into the conversation – politicians, business leaders and technology entrepreneurs.
The conversation on aid is an urgently needed one. Last year, under the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS, or the Global Goals), Australia promised to commit 0.7% of our Gross National Income to Australian aid. Currently, our aid package stands at 0.22%. Effectively, this means that many valuable community programs will be cut. All speakers urged the audience to take the impact of this cut seriously, in particular with respect to how efficient aid had been in the past.
For many, this event was both encouraging and informative. The valuable experience shared by the panelists sheds light on the unmistakable importance and efficiency of Australian aid. As Ms Brodtmann said, “Australians believe in a fair go for all”. As one of the most peaceful, prosperous and stable nations in the world, let’s not reduce aid even more. Summarised by Caitlin, “Let’s help bring stability and empowerment to our region. Let’s give every child, every family, every society the chance to be liberated from the poverty cycle”.
Xinyu Shi and Emily Han
On April 24th 2013, the eight story Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed due to structural failures. This devastating incident left 1,133 people dead and another 2,500 seriously injured. To this day, it is both the deadliest garment factory accident and the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern history. From this Fashion Revolution Day was born.
This year during April 18th-24th, we ask brands around the world, who made our clothes? In an effort to stop anything like the Rana Plaza incident happening again. During this time, thousands of people across the world take photos of themselves with the clothes inside out, showing the tag and upload them to social media using the hashtag, #whomademyclothes. Check out these ones from previous years!
Another way we can help prevent tragedies occurring is by buying ethically produced clothing. Doing this helps to ensure people in the poorest areas have safe working conditions. There are hundreds of ethical fashion brands out there! Sometimes they can be more expensive however the price sure outweighs the real cost! We’ve made it easy for you and selected some of the top brands for you to look at.
New Zealand Brand Kowtow has epic knitwear! They can be a bit on the pricey side, there knits are super cosy and they are incredibly high quality! A piece from there is bound to last!
Here is my personal favourite from their current collection!
Reformation is an ethically conscious brand. They have a wide range of stock to choose from (which can be dangerous for your wallet!) Each garment has been created to produce the least amount of carbon dioxide possible! How cool is that? The focus is on the lifecycle of clothes “From growing textile fibres and making fabric, dyeing, moving materials, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, garment care, and even recycling clothes when you’re done with them.” Reformation has set up a system where you can send your old clothes to them to be recycled into new clothes! As well as making sure that the people who make the garments have ethical working conditions. This is another one of my favourites:
The Australian brand Leonard Street have clothes that are similar to the ones produced by Gorman except are all ethically made! Standout prints in different colours making each individual item of clothes unique.
Who said exercise had to be boring? Dharma Bums have beautiful exercise gear, which would inspire anyone to work out.
Being an ethical consumer and buying Fair-Trade clothing does help people in the poorest countries, it also helps to avoid disasters like the Rana Plaza collapse from occurring. Choosing to vote with our wallet and support ethical brands tells corporations that we care how you treat your workers and they deserve a safe work place just as much as the rest of us do.
So during Fashion Revolution week, particularly on April 24th, post your picture to social media using #whomademyclothes and together we can help #endchildlabour
– By Laura Head
There’s nothing better than waking up on a Sunday morning and finding that the Easter bunny has come in the night. The smell of hot cross buns drifts through the house, and the back yard is filled with brightly coloured eggs ready for the children that have been awake since 5am. Easter is the one day of the year that you can justify having chocolate before 9am.
Unfortunately, there is a hidden surprise in almost every egg you’ll consume this year. An estimated 2 million children are currently working as labourers on cocoa plantations. This means that, out of the millions of Easter eggs that will be sold this year, only 5% will be free from forced, child or trafficked labour.
The trouble is, even when people do care about choosing products that are free from slave labour, they just don’t know what to look for when buying. Even if they do, there’s an entire debate over which certification is better and there is nothing to help you compare them…until now!
World Vision Australia, Baptist World Aid and STOP THE TRAFFIK have put together ‘A Matter of Taste’, a report comparing Fairtrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance on human trafficking prevention, identification and remediation. You can examine everything from how they empower their workers to their child labour and human trafficking action plans and choose the one which best aligns with your values.
So now you know who to look for but where will you find them? Retailers claim that there is limited demand for ethically produced Easter products so it can be surprisingly difficult to find ethical products. No fear – there’s a solution for that too! World Vision Australia and STOP THE TRAFFIK have put together a petition telling retailers that we want them to commit to 100% ethical Easter Range by 2020. By making this change, they will help ensure that their supply chains are free from exploitation it will help lift communities out of poverty. How can they say no?
Join us and sign the petition to tell retailers if they stock ethical products, we will buy them!
Written by Rebeccah Churchward