Our Year 8 students are currently participating in the annual Human Rights Convention program online. This a powerful immersion program that has been running at Carey for several years, and it aims to develop the student’s knowledge, skills, and attributes to bring about positive change in their lives and in their community in relation to human rights issues. Students explore human rights issues from a local, national, and international perspective.
This year the program has creatively been adapted to the online environment and was launched by Professor John Tobin (Carey parent and professor at Melbourne Law School, the University of Melbourne) by a livestream presentation to the whole Year 8 cohort. John challenged the students to think about a range of human rights issues, explained that even small acts of kindness can accumulate to make a significant difference to the world, and to remember that young people are leaders.
Students undertake a series of eight modules:
- Understanding Human Rights – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Child and Youth Rights
- Australian Indigenous Rights
- Lessons from the Past – Holocaust
- Celebrating Diversity
- Rights of Refugees
- Understanding Homelessness
- Future Action Plan
Students receive a digital badge at the successful completion of each module in recognition of the knowledge, skills and attributes they have developed and demonstrated. The badges provide the students with a visible validation of what they have achieved throughout the week and an added incentive to strive accumulate all eight.
Throughout the week, students are supported by staff facilitators to reflect on their experiences, use their imagination to explore possibilities, collaborate with each other to develop a deeper understanding of the issues, and show courage when developing new ideas.
James provided the following reflection and some ideas as to how he and his group could act to make a difference with regards to Australian Indigenous Rights:
I learnt how Australian Indigenous rights are being abused and the privileges they should have as the original custodians of the land aren't being respected.
To create change I could listen better to the stories of Australian Indigenous people and learn about their struggles.
As a team we could be open to visiting Australian Indigenous communities and giving to charities that help them build schools and homes. And a way we could close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is to be inclusive and teach all students about Australian Indigenous matters in classrooms.
During the Lessons from the Past module, students took a virtual tour of the Holocaust Museum, listened to stories from survivors and participated in an online Holocaust webinar.
Thomas made the following reflection on this module:
Reflection: Today I learned more about the Holocaust and listening to the stories of the survivors was heartbreaking because of what they went through as children. I learned the importance of perseverance and not giving up from listening to the stories of the Holocaust survivors.
One of the main activities for the week is for the students to collaborate in small groups on an Action Plan that aims to make a positive difference to a particular Human Rights Issue. Here is Year 8 Steele House brainstorming ideas for their Action Plan:
The Human Rights Convention empowers students to learn from the PAST and act NOW to make a difference in the FUTURE.
Middle School teacher and Project Co-ordinator – Creativity and Collaboration