One Young World Oceania

A platform for Oceania-based One Young World Ambassadors to share what drives them.

The Last Straw

This blog post was contributed by Eva McKinley, a One Young World Ambassador from Hobart, Australia. Eva has just launched ‘The Last Straw’, a campaign aimed at changing consumer behaviour and reducing plastic waste in the hospitality industry.

 

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I have worked in hospitality for years to fund my serial social change volunteerism, but I never saw the link between the two. That is, until one day I was doing what most bartenders are trained to do- putting two straws in a cocktail to serve to someone who immediately took them out and left them on the bar. I remember putting those straws in the bin when it hit me- how many times had I done that exact thing? In my years working behind a bar, how many straws had I been responsible for giving out, just to have them used once and thrown away?

It’s not something we think about often- this disconnect between what we hold in our hands and what it actually means for the world in the long term. Plastic is built to endure the test of time, and those plastic straws I so thoughtlessly threw away are going to outlive me and everyone else on this planet.

Estimates say that in the United States alone 500,000,000 plastic straws are used every single day. Every. Single. Day. Now let’s add in all the straws from all the bars and take-away franchises across Europe, Asia, Africa…you get the picture. That’s a lot of plastic waste going into the ocean and landfill every day.

But the good news is that it’s in our hands just how many straws get used. If we could all take 5 seconds to think about whether we really need that straw, if we all just ordered our drinks without one, the amount of plastic waste could be drastically reduced the world over.

That’s what The Last Straw is all about- we encourage consumers to stop using straws and we work with venues to look at how to reduce their straw output. It seems like such a simple little thing but we can never underestimate the impact of what small actions that are taken the world over can achieve. Nothing changes unless everyone does.

On the surface this campaign is about reducing the use of plastic straws and lowering overall plastic waste. The underlying philosophy is about understanding and thinking more about the life cycle of the things we consume. That straw is used for approximately ten minutes of its centuries-long lifespan, and I don’t even need it to enjoy my drink. These little thoughtless luxuries that we take so much for granted are ruining our world, one straw at a time.

So this is the call- break out of convention. Take 5 seconds to think about the big picture impact of what you buy or use and what that means in the long term. Order your drink without a straw. It’s simple, and it’s going to make the world of difference.

We’ve just launched- but keep an eye out for what we’ve got in store.

Laststraw.com.au | @thelaststrawaus | #thelaststraw | hello@laststraw.com.au

 

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One Young World 2015 Summit Consultion – Oceania Online Focus Group

Recently an online focus group was held for Oceania-based One Young World Ambassadors, as part of the consultation for One Young World 2015. Our group looked at the Human Rights theme, and the question we had to consider was – “How do we create better conditions for people taking risks to migrate?” Below is a summary of what was discussed. Thanks again to everyone who contributed, your opinions were really valued and you giving up your time to participate was really appreciated.

 

Question – How do we create better conditions for people taking risks to migrate?

This group agreed to focus on three main types of migrants within this question – economic migrants, asylum seekers, and climate change refugees. We also agreed that it was important to consider the question from the perspective of countries of origin as well as of receiving countries.

Asylum seekers

The group discussed asylum seekers, particularly in the context of asylum seeker arrivals by boat to Australia. In this context the question of how to create better conditions for people taking risks to migrate can be problematic, because the bigger issue is the inhumane policies of receiving countries. We talked about how discussing safety measures for asylum seekers who are returned to their country of origin (or are prevented from seeking asylum in the first place) risks focusing the debate on the wrong issue. Furthermore, if asylum seekers are at risk of persecution then it might be very unrealistic to think that governments returning asylum seekers to their country of origin would be able to protect them once they had been sent back.

However, with those caveats in mind, we agreed that there is also value in being pragmatic and ensuring that if governments prevent asylum seekers migrating then they have a responsibility to ensure their safety and wellbeing. We also agreed that governments have an obligation to be transparent in their asylum seeker decision making processes and policies. People have a right to know how these decisions are being made and this is something that is currently lacking.

“We want governments to do more to protect asylum seekers, but if they decide to deport people they must be able to ensure their protection once they return. That should be a basic minimum.”

There is a myth about diversity being something to be feared. There are misperceptions about the risks caused my foreign migrants, and this can often be unhelpful or dangerous. It is particularly inconsistent to go to such lengths to exclude migrants in places where mass migration has historically formed the basis of our nation (e.g. Oceania and North America).

Agreed that:

  • Governments should be doing more to protect asylum seekers and refugees
  • Governments have an obligation to ensure the safety and protection of asylum seekers who are prevented from migrating
  • Citizens have a right to know about how asylum seeker decisions are made and governments should be more transparent about this area of their migration policies.

Possible questions for the One Young World 2015 delegation:

  • Do you agree that citizens have a right to transparent decision-making when it comes to government policies on asylum seekers and refugee status determination?
  • Do you think that governments are currently doing enough to protect people migrating as a result of fear of persecution in their home countries?

Climate change refugees

We then discussed migrants who are forced to leave their homes as a result of climate change, and how this category of migrants fits with the traditional definition of a refugee under the Refugee Convention. Currently, governments interpret the convention as excluding climate change refugees. Rewriting the convention would be difficult because the current convention has weight due its near-unanimous ratification, and this probably wouldn’t happen if a new convention was drafted. So what is the solution? Something needs to be done because this is an issue that is only going to get bigger and bigger, and it is one that will be hugely relevant for the Oceania region. We agreed that current efforts to prevent climate change and protect people forced to migrate because of climate change don’t go far enough.

“How do we get governments to acknowledge a responsibility to protect climate change refugees when some won’t even recognise that climate change exists?”

Agreed that:

  • Governments do not currently provide enough support for people forced to migrate as a result of climate change.

Possible questions for the One Young World 2015 delegation:

  • Do you agree that governments have a responsibility to protect people who are forced to migrate as a result of climate change, in the same way that they have a responsibility to protect other types of refugees?

Economic migrants

Discussed the differences between asylum seekers, climate change refugees and people who take risks to move because of economic, social and cultural reasons. Although there are a lot of economic migrants in our region, there was a general consensus that there weren’t as many ‘at risk’ migrants in this category. In terms of people taking significant risks to migrate (and thinking about the issue through a human rights lens), this issue doesn’t seem as prevalent for our region as it might be in other parts of the world, due to our geographical isolation. Focusing too much on this category of migrants when discussing human rights issues might sometimes do more harm than good, because it risks perpetuating the myth that people taking significant risks to migrate to/within the Oceania region are just doing so for economic reasons, rather than out of fear of persecution.

Agreed that:

  • In the Oceania region, the main groups of people taking risks to migrate and asylum seekers and refugees, rather than people migrating for economic, social and cultural reasons.

Possible questions for the One Young World 2015 delegation:

  • Do you agree that the diversity that migration brings should be embraced as a strength, not a risk, and that governments should be more accepting of a diverse range of migrants?

It’s time for a global debate on the death penalty, starting with One Young World Ambassadors.

This post was contributed by Marc Zen, a One Young World Ambassador based in Perth, Australia, who is passionate about human rights, healthcare and LGBTI rights. What do you think? Join the debate at #OYW, @OYWOceania and @MarcZen10.

In the past week, the Australian government and opposition have been united in their condemnation of other nations’ use of the death penalty. This comes in the wake of the executions of two Australian citizens in Indonesia, ten years after being convicted of the crime of drug trafficking, despite multiple attempts by the Australian government over the last few months to achieve a stay of execution. Given these events, it is time to initiate an international conversation about the continued use of the most harsh and irrevocable punishment as an instrument of the law, starting here with One Young World Ambassadors.

In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations after the end of the Second World War. It was produced by an international yearning for guiding principles to safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of people everywhere. Article 3 of the Declaration states clearly that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”, thus cementing the state-sanctioned killing of another human being as a clear violation of human rights.

Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/national/federal-police-deny-they-have-bali-nine-blood-on-their-hands-20150305-13weqx.html

Furthermore, it is a common misconception that the harsh and irreversible nature of the death penalty acts as a deterrent to crime, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support this claim. Crimes of all degrees of seriousness continue in countries that do and do not execute,exploding the myth that severity of punishment is directly correlated to a reduction in crime.

The very existence of any justice system is to maintain law and order. Therefore, it is a profound yet crucial realisation to come to that justice systems are flawed, just like any other manmade structure. The execution of a human being represents the ultimate, irreversible punishment from which no compensation can be made in the event of a mistaken conviction, such as in the 150 exonerations of death row prisoners that have taken place in the United States since 1973. This is highly important also for the fact that not all justice systems treat all citizens fairly, with many countries sentencing people to death after obtaining false confessions through torture.

This relates well to evidence from Amnesty International (2015) which suggests that the death penalty is often used as a weapon against the most vulnerable people in society, being those who already belong to marginalised groups. Discrimination in justice systems worldwide means that the penalty is most often applied to ethnic and religious minorities, as well as the poorest people in society who lack access to appropriate legal resources to adequately defend themselves.

Bali 9 painting http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-29/bali-nine-sukumaran-ddeath-row-paintings/6429264

The two Australian citizens executed this week in Indonesia had demonstrated total rehabilitation and had spent their time in incarceration contributing to the Indonesian community. One had become an ordained Christian minister and the other an accomplished artist, both with qualifications studied and completed during their time in prison. This demonstrates both the effectiveness of the Indonesian justice system, as people convicted of such crimes could be rehabilitated so successfully, and the inherent needlessness of their deaths. Nothing has been gained from these executions and much has been lost, for both nations.

Some of you reading this may live in countries where the death penalty still exists, and may even support the practice. I would ask you to challenge the commonly-held assumptions about the efficacy of the death penalty, especially in light of the insurmountable evidence against it and its human cost. As One Young World Ambassadors, we can be at the forefront of challenging received opinions and facilitating debates. No matter what your opinion on the issue, hiding the debate behind a wall of silence is antithetical to the empowerment and inclusion that we stand for.

I believe that all executions must end, that countries remove this punishment from their law books indefinitely and that current death sentences be reduced the life imprisonment immediately because, as stated by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the death penalty “has no place in the21st century”. But for this to change young people around the world must be engaged in conversation with law makers to end this form of punishment.

In 2014, there were 607 executions around the world. As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty. There need to be more.

Bali 9 vigil http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/supporters-of-bali-nine-duo-andrew-chan-and-myuran-sukumaran-desperately-trying-to-save-them/story-fnh81fz8-1227203588828

What do you think? Join the debate at #OYW, @OYWOceania and @MarcZen10.

ThinkBigPalau: Transforming Palauans Into Global Problem Solvers

This post was written by Joleen Ngoriakl, a One Young World Ambassador from Palau. She was born and raised in Palau and is now pursuing advanced education in international politics and development in the United States. She maintains a blog on Medium where she writes about social justice issues, climate change, and Palau.

Throughout many civilizations in the past and sadly, still many today, education is reserved for the elite and fortunate in society. However, social media and digital technology have changed that. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogging, podcasts, and many other digital platforms allow people from every walk of life to share their stories, ideas, and solutions in an unprecedented space that transcends both geological and imagined boundaries such as race, gender, and class. ThinkBigPalau uses new media to bring the world to Palau, and Palau to the world.

“Throughout many civilizations in the past and sadly, still many today, education is reserved for the elite and fortunate in society. However, social media and digital technology have changed that.”

ThinkBigPalau was created out of the compelling need for critical thinking and analysis on issues concerning our small island. Along with the accessibility and ubiquity of social media and digital technology, we are able to meet that need and more. Right now, we use these mediums to share Palau news and events as well as global news and scholarly research that impact Palau and other Pacific Island nations.

The cool thing about it is this: we are able to not only share information with our audience, but interpret them with our own lenses as Palauans and citizens of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This not only makes the process more accessible to our community and people but also allows us to engage in the global discourse as problem solvers for some of the most pressing issues of our time.  Whether it’s analyzing a new study on sustainable agriculture, examining solutions to illegal fishing, sharing interesting articles on Palau’s effort to secure a marine sanctuary, and even reporting the dangers of not vaccinating children or giving an overview of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), we’ve got it all covered.

Photo credit: Brien Sers Nicholas

Photo credit: Brien Sers Nicholas

This process involves a lot of daily research and keeping up with local Palauan and world events. We have been managing with a three-person team: myself (international politics and social justice), Mr. Lee Boo Gibbons (business and aquaculture), and Mrs. Mia Kuartei-Skang (technology and education). We are all trained in different fields and have work and study outside of ThinkBigPalau but are committed to this project even on a volunteer basis. We are truly dedicated to informing and educating the public with the highest degree of information integrity – we guarantee the validity and reliability of our sources.

Our ultimate goal, which is in the works, is turning ThinkBigPalau into a nonprofit think tank that focuses on sustainable policies in Palau and the neighboring islands. Right now we are in the strategic planning phase and are hoping to incorporate within the next three years depending on funding.

It is not enough that we are a democratic country; it is imperative that we create informed policies that are born out of meticulous research and analysis. This is the pinnacle of democracy – creating policies that respond to the needs of the population. To do this, we must start by educating the masses in order to cultivate a culture of vigilant, responsible, and well-informed citizens who will then influence the policy-making process. Keeping true to our name, we push people to think big by expanding their scope of understanding through mass education and information. For example, we have a number of projects that align us to this mission such as our EduSource where students, teachers, parents, and lifelong learners can use as a reliable resource for course lessons, tutorials, and research. We also have a major online classroom project underway. We do this because we truly believe that education and critical thinking training should be accessible to everyone.

“To do this, we must start by educating the masses in order to cultivate a culture of vigilant, responsible, and well-informed citizens.”

ThinkBigPalau is our response to the challenges we face in our corner of the world as well as challenges faced by humanity as a whole. My team and I believe that in order to solve the world’s most pressing issues, we need diverse voices and well-informed Palauans and small island nation citizens can add richness to this process.

Joleen Ngoriakl is a One Young World Ambassador from Palau. She was born and raised in Palau and is now pursuing advanced education in international politics and development in the United States. She maintains a blog on Medium where she writes about social justice issues, climate change, and Palau.

Sites: www.medium.com/@joleenngoriakl and www.thinkbigpalau.wix.com/alii
Twitter handle: @jngoriakl and ThinkBigPalau @thinkbigpalau
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thinkbigpalau

Business Class: Using Business Skills to Help Disadvantaged Communities

This post was written by Sarah Hughes, a One Young World Ambassador from Australia.

When I look back at the past couple of months, I feel a deep sense of pride and satisfaction. It seems like yesterday, when I received the most exciting and life changing news of my life, being informed that I would become the Experian Asia Pacific Social Responsibility Ambassador and would have the honour of representing Experian at the One Young World (OYW) Summit in Johannesburg.

Since its launch in March 2013, our Heart of Experian Social Responsibility programme has been aimed at harnessing the unique assets and the skills of our people to help communities achieve their social and economic potential. We focus our activities on three key social responsibility aims: enabling the most vulnerable in society to access financial services, providing the disadvantaged with the financial knowledge to prosper, and supporting micro and small businesses to grow and thrive.

The Business Class program by Schools Connect Australia endeavours to develop long-term, strong and sustainable relationships between schools and businesses to assist socially, geographically and / or economically disadvantaged schools, teachers, students and communities.

Helping young people develop and enhance their lives has been a rewarding and gratifying experience for me. I consider myself privileged to have had the ability to create significant and sustainable changes in my community, using Experian’s Social Responsibility initiative as a platform, in association with Schools Connect Australia. The Business Class program by Schools Connect Australia endeavours to develop long-term, strong and sustainable relationships between schools and businesses to assist socially, geographically and / or economically disadvantaged schools, teachers, students and communities.

My involvement with the Business Class initiative so far

When I stopped to reflect on the progress of the Business Class initiative with McClelland College, I was unsure where to begin! In the past few months, Experian has developed a great relationship with McClelland College. The program is continually growing and expanding, with new and innovative ideas.  I anticipate that the program inevitably extending to areas I never imagined possible six months ago!

The following activities are just a few of some of the achievements that have occurred over the past months:

Enhancing the Curriculum with Experian Expertise

During May, my colleagues Jessica Dioth, Quentin Jones, Gaurav Vageriya and I visited McClelland College to conduct Mock Job Interviews for Year 10 students. The aim of the interviews was to give students the opportunity to experience a real-life job interview and demonstrate their employability skills and knowledge they had developed during their recent Year 10 Work Experience placement.

The day was fantastic and memorable, and we heard a diverse range of career aspirations from the students; engineers, criminal lawyers, secondary school teachers, make-up artists and builders! Hearing the students’ career aspirations, despite some of the trying circumstances impacting their lives was inspirational…

“Thank you to our Business Class Partners Experian for adding so much value to the Mock Interviews this week. The feedback from students and staff was extremely positive particularly in relation to the perspective our Experian representatives brought to the panel”. – Amadeo Ferra, Principal McClelland College.

Sharing Experiences and Supporting Academic Efforts

Continuing with our academic involvement, Julie Kirk and I from our HR team were privileged to attend McClelland College’s Senior School assembly to provide a presentation about Experian and my One Young World adventure. The students were fascinated to hear about Experian’s business operations and inspired by the One Young World experience. It was an honour to share my learnings and unforgettable experience with the students. Hopefully, on hearing about One Young World, students are now thinking about the importance of youth leadership and social change. Julie and I were also asked to present Academic Achievement awards to the Senior School students. As I you will have no doubt picked up, I passionately believe that education is the key to addressing the multitude of issues impeding society’s development. It was great to see McClelland College promoting Academic Efforts and Performance, which encourages their students to appreciate and value their education.

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One HR Day

Our HR team conducted “Careers Advice” sessions with the Year 9 students during our ‘One HR’ Volunteering Day we run every year, encouraging students to follow their passions, maximise their strengths and find new opportunities; we hope our efforts will help them with their education, development and preparation for their lives after leaving secondary school.

The day was a great opportunity for our HR team to meet students of all ages from a range of different backgrounds. It allowed the team to gain an insight to the students’ lives, the challenges they face and the aspirations they have for the future. Quite often, the chaos in our daily lives both at work and at home, distracts us from being aware of the challenges individuals and groups within our communities are confronted with. It made me realise that the business skills and knowledge it’s often easy to take for granted are invaluable skills to others in our communities and fundamental skills we can all pass on.

Giving Back to the Community through Collaboration

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McClelland College sponsored a famous dance group “Break the Barriers” which consists of dancers who have a range of disabilities. The international Dance Group strive to improve the quality of lives for other individuals facing similar challenges. In August, Experian employees helped McClelland run the event, which brought together eight local primary schools and two schools for students with disabilities.

It was a remarkable and memorable opportunity for our employees to support not only McClelland College but to collaborate with the school to give back to the wider community.

sarahhughes4

Using Social Media to Drive Social Change

Prior to attending the One Young World summit, I must admit, I was pretty clueless about Social Media! I didn’t even have a Facebook account and did not know how to use Twitter properly! After attending One Young World, I learned about the positive impact Social Media can have on driving social change. I am now an avid Twitter user! I frequently find myself discovering new social change groups and entrepreneurs to “follow”. My Twitter addiction fortunately enabled me to scroll past Richard Branson’s tweet about his initiative “The Fiver Challenge“.  The Fiver Challenge is a simple yet brilliant idea to engage society’s youth and corporations in a mutually beneficial and educational project. The challenge requires either Primary or Secondary school students to develop and set up mini-businesses with approximately $20 to create products or services they can then sell/deliver to generate a profit and engage with their local community.  It is a project that develops their entrepreneurial, communication, literacy, numeracy and employability skills; these are critical skills needed by young individuals today both within their schooling years and beyond.

I am pleased to announce that we will be conducting an adapted version of the “Fiver Challenge” with McClelland College’s 10+ Club; an educational group for high achieving and academically focused Year 9 and 10 students.

Concluding thoughts

As our partnership with McClelland College progresses, I continue to see how crucial and valuable education is to our communities’ development and future. It is critical that the value of education is promoted and embraced within our communities, among both students and their parents.

During the Johannesburg Summit, David Jones Co-Founder of One Young World urged us all to return home from the Summit and do “just one thing” to make a difference.  Mine was getting involved with McClelland College and although, at time, it may seem that “just one thing” will only make a small impact, if we all commit to one contribution or change, we can collectively make a significant difference in the world. Therefore, I’d encourage us all to consider what your “one thing” to make a difference will be…..

If you’d like to connect with me and exchange ideas, please feel free to get in touch!

Passion, Purpose and Perspective

One of my favourite quotes is this one from Jane Goodall –

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

That sentiment sums up everything I’m passionate about. The idea that everyone has the ability to have a positive impact on the world around them is something I really believe in, and in 2014 I realised just how passionate I am about making that happen. It’s why I applied to be a Coordinating Ambassador and it’s why I care about what I do. Attending One Young World in October was a significant part of that journey. It gave me a newfound sense of purpose, and a newfound belief in the extent of my ability to change the world. This year I’m hoping to translate the inspiration of One Young World in to action, and to empower others to do the same.

I co-chair an organisation called Law for Change Wellington, a non-profit aimed at empowering young New Zealanders to use their legal skills in the public interest. I studied law at university but have chosen not to practice, so it might seem strange that I run an organisation focussed on the legal community. But I co-founded the organisation out of passion for enabling people to use their skills to make a positive impact. This is something I remain hugely passionate about, and something I would like to dedicate the rest of my life to. Last year I realised just how much I care about that cause.

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I also found a sense of purpose. This year I’ll be working on a new project aimed at empowering young changemakers to have a greater impact, by providing them with the skills, connections and ideas to help them work efficiently, collaboratively, and with integrity. This was a project I had started working on before One Young World, but since One Young World it has grown in scale significantly. I’m now trying to design a programme which supports young changemakers all over the world. It’s a huge challenge, but that excites me. The confidence to attempt to create something with global impact only exists for me because of my One Young World experience.

2014 wasn’t perfect. I found a sense of purpose but I often lacked a sense of peace, and there was bad news along with the good. In December my Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He’s since had surgery to have the kidney removed and now has an extremely high chance of recovery, but the experience scared me. The week of the diagnosis I was offered a contract extension at work as well as being offered a position in a global youth leadership fellowship, but Dad’s news made me realise how insignificant those other things felt in comparison to his recovery. Again I was grateful for a sense of perspective.

Below is the conclusion to a blog post I wrote three days in to One Young World.

This week has been a beautiful mix of solemnity and irreverence. Just a few hours after hearing those powerful, impactful stories, we all spent the evening together at the Guinness storehouse. We laughed and yelled and danced and drank, and those moments will be memorable as well. It sounds a little contradictory, and maybe it is, but I think our ability to laugh together over a pint at the end of the day can be just as important as our ability to share the stories of our hopes and fears. I’m very glad I came here.

May your year be a mix of solemnity and irreverence. May you find passion, purpose and perspective, as I did in 2014. May you find a sense of peace, which I sometimes felt I lacked last year. May you realise that you realise that you have the ability to positively impact the world around you, and that what you do makes a difference. May 2015 be your best year yet. Happy new year everyone.

Luke Fitzmaurice (@lukefitznz)
One Young World Coordinating Ambassador, Oceania Region