Voices for the future

Students often seem to have better moral compasses than our most successful business and political leaders so it is commendable that many Australian schools are empowering them to have a say in building a better, fairer and more sustainable planet.

In many parts of the world, getting one’s voice heard can be a deadly task. Take the case of Malala Yousafzai from the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley in Pakistan. She was shot in the head over comments she made in her blog in support of girls’ education, yet not even this could silence her.

“…I began to see that the pen and the words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. We were learning how to struggle and we were learning how powerful we are when we speak,” she says of her blog for the BBC’s Urdu website.

The students from Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview, Overnewton Anglican Community College, Melbourne, and St Clare’s High School, Taree, are a world away from students like Malala. They live and are educated in ‘the lucky country’, where free speech is often viewed as a right and equality is legislated (with a few notable exceptions).

But like many Australian students, they don’t take the fortune of their geography for granted, nor do they shy away from exposing injustice within their own nation or working to improve the lives of others. Thanks to the support, education and encouragement of their teachers, these students are working towards a more sustainable and more equitable future and encouraging others to do the same. Their stories plus an examination of social justice education by Monash University’s Dr Joseph Agbenyega are featured on pages 10-13.

Also in this issue we unpack the latest IEU-commissioned workplace bullying research (p24), we share some groundbreaking safety campaigns that are resonating with young people (p16) and we highlight a manual for making sure those school sustainability programs are themselves sustainable (p22). And of course, there is so much more, so flick through, enjoy the read and let us know what you think.

We are always interested in hearing about programs that you are involved in, or suggestions for articles you would like featured in IE. If you would like to contribute, please email iemagazine@ieu.asn.au