Rewind a couple of weeks … was your New Year’s resolution to get more in touch with what’s happening in your community? Us too! Here are our top picks of social impact, arts, culture and environmental events that need to find their way into your 2018 schedule.
FEBRUARY all month: Sustainable Living Festival
Melburnians, take note: The Sustainable Living Festival , which lasts all of February, engages individuals and communities to host and promote sustainability events. Celebrating the very best examples of ecological and social sustainability the event embraces interactive workshops, talks, demonstrations, artworks, exhibits, films and live performances.
FEBRUARY 27-28: Purpose conference
You could call it a conference, but it’s more than that. Purpose.dois two days to gather with people who are passionate about purpose-driven businesses: working in them, running them, launching them, and thinking hard about how they fit in the world in 2018.
MARCH 4: All About Women
Returning for its sixth year to the Sydney Opera House, the All About Women festival features an incredible line-up of speakers on intersectionality, #metoo, Trump, climate justice, and other issues that matter to women (and everyone!) in 2018. Tickets are going fast to the most popular sessions.
MARCH 4: Clean Up Australia Day
Also happening on March 4 is the 27th annual Clean Up Australia Day. You can make a real difference to your local environment by registering to collect rubbish at your local park, beach, bushland and help promote a cleaner community.
MARCH 24: Earth Hour
Today is Earth Hour, the world’s largest grassroots movement for climate change action. Millions of people in over 180 countries take part in Earth Hour by switching off their lights from 8:30-9:30pm local time as a symbolic gesture to show that our planet needs stronger action on climate change.
MAY 25: TEDx Sydney
Returning for its 9th year, TEDxSydney is an independently organised event that will feature inspirational talks and performances from leading thinkers with ideas worth spreading. Discussion will focus around technology, design, science and culture.
Stay tuned for our follow up events calendar for the second half of 2018 featuring Vivid, Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, Mental Health Week and more.
Some things aren’t easy to talk about, but sometimes we have to tackle the tough stuff.
That’s why today, we’re writing about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a human rights issue that is often left out of the conversation about violence against women. And with International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation coming up on the 6th of February, now is as good a time as any.
It is estimated that worldwide, over 200 million women alive have undergone some form of FGM. This is over 8 times the population of Australia.
What is FGM?
For those who aren’t familiar with the practise, according to the UNFPA (The United National Population Fund), “FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” It is a violation of a woman’s rights, including the right to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life (as the procedure can sometimes result in death).
Although FGM most commonly occurs in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it is a global issue and is sometimes practised in countries across Asia and Latin America, as well as among immigrant communities living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
The reasons for practising FGM can vary across communities, but generally comes down to it being a cultural coming-of-age tradition. Some groups consider it a rite of passage, others as a pre-requisite for marriage, and some attribute it to religious beliefs. Plan International cites the idea among communities that it “preserves chastity, cleanliness, family honour and preserves a girl for marriage”.
The problem with this procedure is that there is no benefit and can have a serious impact on the health and wellbeing of women’s and girls’ bodies. Not only this, but it is generally done at a young age (between infancy and 15 years old), a time at which the child is typically not in a place to make an informed decision about her future or herself.
How it affects girls
Initial negative impacts can include severe pain, shock, haemorrhaging, bacterial infections, and open sores in the genital region. It can also lead to many long-term ramifications including recurring bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, an increased risk of childbirth complications (which can lead to newborn deaths), and the need for later surgeries.
What’s being done?
So how are organisations working to stop this cruel practise globally?
One of the main focuses of current programs to stop FGM is to work with parents and local governments of communities to spread awareness of the dangers associated with FGM. They also work closely with religious and traditional leaders to dissociate the practise with religious beliefs. Educating influential profiles in the community is a first step towards changing the way people view the practise.
Projects are also working to increase awareness and education among the young people of these communities so the young women feel in control of their decisions and of their bodies and have the voice to speak up against the practise.
Other programs work with health workers to help empower them to resist pressure from their communities and protect the women who look to them as carers. It is key that they use their position in society as a platform to educate their patients of the dangers of the procedure.
In addition to this, many programs are engaging the media to increase conversation and open up a discourse about the topic.
There are many things that need to be done to reach zero tolerance of FGM globally, but improvements have been made in recent years and we remain hopeful that through education and increased awareness, communities worldwide will begin to reject this practise.
To learn more about FGM & the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, check out these helpful links:
Everyone in Sydney knows about the festival of lights that happens every winter – and if you don’t, once you see the way the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are lit up every night you will never forget Vivid. This year’s exhibitions were bigger, brighter, and more beautiful than the years before, with Aboriginal song lines shown on the opera house, a cathedral of light, and much more!
A few members of Inspired HQ were lucky enough to go to Taronga Zoo for their inaugural participation in the Vivid festival, an illuminated trail between the animal enclosures called “Be the Light for the Wild”. Taronga Conservation Society Australia showcased the 10 species that they have dedicated themselves to protecting for their centenary: five native Australian animals, like the Platypus and the Bilby, and five that are on the brink of extinction in Sumatra – a biodiversity hotspot of critical natural importance right on Australia’s doorstep.
The amazing multimedia light sculptures of animals ranged from the Sumatran Tiger to the brightly coloured Corroboree frog, and were supported by a cast of characters that included the echidna, crocodile, bush turkey, and even interactive Cicadas that lit up and sang when you cooee. At points along the trail, you could look up and see hundreds of paper lanterns that had been created by NSW school children. They were painted with the faces of frogs, tigers, elephants, and gorillas, and lit the way from exhibit to exhibit.
In case you were wondering what the animals thought of all this, a Taronga representative said that the animals had been slowly exposed to music, lights, and more activity every night for weeks to ensure that they would be comfortable during the Vivid festival. A few animals came out to say hi along the way, though most preferred to stay inside their night enclosures. Giraffes were seen placidly chomping on their feed, high above the heads of the crowd, and small Sumatran elephants meandered around their enclosure near the Sumatran Tiger statue.
But Vivid isn’t just about all the pretty light shows, it’s an opportunity to see the best of the best in music (Hyatus Kaiyote anyone?!), international speakers (Jenji Kohan, creator of hit Netflix series Orange Is The New Black!), creative workshops like the crafty etsy workshop, and great ideas.
Charities are usually among those who have the best and most forward thinking ideas, and this year they did not disappoint. Amnesty International hosted a workshop called “Art is Our Artillery to Defend Human Rights”, highlighting the difficulty that I think we’re all having in this digital age: how to stand out among the crowd, especially with a challenging idea.
Amnesty International Australia’ Indigenous Rights campaigner, Roxanne Moore, discussed creative strategies showcasing new ideas on how to communicate difficult issues for public action. Roxanne highlighted the potential opportunities we have to show the creativity and power of Indigenous people, using various mediums to communicate their rights, passions and abilities.
beyondblue took this opportunity to set one of their awareness events, The Culture Blue Day, to the background of this festival of lights. With four exclusive Vivid LIVE performances on rotation and in clear view throughout the evening, the beauty of the festival was incorporated organically into the evening’s program of entertainment acts, silent auctions, raffles, games, and a photo booth!
Culture Blue Day is an initiative in support of beyondblue that generates awareness and seeks to reduce the stigma that can sometimes accompany issues of mental illness. This event provided a forum for open discussion of the issue, and a channel through which interested parties could donate funds and make a real difference to the lives of people affected by depression, anxiety and suicide.
These amazing charities have all found creative ways to reach out to community by taking part in a staple of the Sydney winter event calendar, Vivid festival. There’s no doubt that they are innovative and forward thinking in their approaches, and it’s all for a good cause!
Check out all the amazing charities you can support on the adventure-of-a-lifetime by visiting our calendar.
Hang on, are you telling me it’s nearly December!? With November almost over, it can only mean one thing … the giving season is upon us! No matter what you are celebrating, we have created a list of socially responsible gifts and tips to make sure you are doing your part for both people and the planet this year. You’re welcome!
Etsy’s handmade #makeforgood purchases support Plan International Australia
Etsy is an online marketplace for unique handmade and vintage goods. A couple of months ago, the folks behind Etsy teamed up with Plan International Australia to launch their #makeforgood campaign, where 20 per cent of all items sold online are directed towards the Because I Am A Girl initiative.
Creative entrepreneurs from all over Australia have joined forces with a common goal leading up to Christmas, which is to provide 150 micro-loans to Cambodian women to help them start their own businesses and lift their families out of poverty. With a huge range of one-off pieces including art, craft, jewellery and homeware, Etsy is the perfect place to tick off some items from your gift list.
Photo credit: Etsy
IKEA’s Soft Toys for Education supports UNICEF and Save The Children
Do you have a small child you need to buy for? Look no further than IKEA. Since the Soft Toys for Education launched 12 years ago, the program has raised the equivalent of AUD $115 million for UNICEF and Save the Children, while helping educate more than 11 million children. For the first time this year, IKEA asked children around the world to design their own toys to feature amongst the range. This giving season when you purchase a toy in-store or online from November 1st to December 26th, you will help the IKEA Foundation to provide children living in poverty access education.
Photo Credit: IKEA
Grab your ugly Xmas rashie and support the Cancer Council QLD
With the weather warming up, are there any beach-goers on your gift list? The southern hemisphere’s answer to the daggy Christmas jumper is here … the Ugly Xmas Rashie.
Did you know? Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before they are 70. Perfect to ensure sun safety for the upcoming summer, the limited edition unisex rash-shirt was designed and manufactured locally in NSW by Kozii Swimwear. All profits from the sale of the rashie go towards the Cancer Council QLD as they continue to fight life-threatening cancers.
Photo Credit: The Ugly Xmas Rashie
Put a gift under the Kmart Wishing Tree for Mission Australia and The Salvation Army
Before finishing your conscious shopping for the season, don’t forget to grab a gift for a disadvantaged Australian to add to their holiday cheer this year. A fixture of the Australian Christmas for almost 30 years, the Kmart Wishing Tree is our longest and most loved Christmas gift appeal.
Make sure to visit your local Kmart store before December 24th and place something special under the tree. All gifts will be distributed to those most in need by Mission Australia and The Salvation Army. For 2015, Kmart is aiming to help their charity partners collect and distribute more than 500,000 gifts to at risk and marginalised people.
Gift wrapping for Lifeline
Now that you’ve got all your gifts, the last step is the gift wrapping. When you’ve finished your shopping this year, why not take a few hours to volunteer your time as a gift wrapper and help make an impact to the lives of Australians living with mental illness and support Lifeline?
If you can’t volunteer, consider taking your gifts to an All Phones stall set up in-store around the country. Shoppers can exchange their gifts along with a donation for beautifully wrapped Christmas presents. Funds raised from the wrapping appeal will help Lifeline fund their 24/7 crisis support line.
Purchase an OXFAM Christmas Tree
Once you have all of your gifts ticked off, they are ready to find their home under the tree! If you love the smell of a real Christmas tree and how it musters up that festive feeling, then make sure to get your Oxfam Christmas Tree order in by November 30th.
Available in NSW, VIC and SA for $89, your fresh pine tree will be delivered to your door in metropolitan areas between December 5th and 6th. All funds raised from your tree will go towards assisting families living in poverty around the globe.
Photo Credit: Oxfam
Last but not least … get fundraising!
Whether you’ve signed up for an Inspired Adventure and are in the midst of your fundraising journey, or you admire the work of a charity, the giving season is a perfect time to let your friends and family know this year you would prefer a donation to your favourite cause.
The best place to start would be an email to your networks letting them know that this year you don’t want a traditional present. Include a short paragraph about why the charity is close to your heart these holidays and a link so everyone can support the cause with an online donation in your honour. If you have plenty of energy then it’s not too late to consider a fundraising Christmas party. Other ideas include swapping Secret Santa this year for a donation sponsorship, a Christmas bake sale at your workplace, or an end of year BBQ with your local sports or community club.
Want to give back and fundraise for an amazing cause in 2016? Visit the Inspired Adventures Calendar and find a charity challenge perfect for you.
Mental health has recently taken centre stage on the social agenda and we couldn’t be happier about it. The larger community’s response to mental health has typically been distinctively different from that of physical ailments, and mental illness often goes unnoticed or is dismissed due to its lack of observable “symptoms”. There is wide misconception about the seriousness of mental illness, and this dismissive attitude has created a response of guilt and secrecy from the mentally ill.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges mental illness brings – to both sufferers and their loved ones, and ultimately to society. As someone who has been on both sides of the fence and can certainly relate to this feeling of disempowerment I can sympathise with the feeling that to ignore the issue might be the easiest approach. However, it is important that we no longer bury our head in the sand and tackle these issues head on. Each of us has the ability to have an impact, whether it be on an individual level, as an active member of society or even on via political platforms. Here’s how!
In the face of adversity, we must never overlook our individual ability to make a difference. There are many behaviours we can adopt that make a real difference to those around us suffering from a variety of mental illnesses – most importantly through our use of language. On the most basic level, we simply need people to talk! Talk about mental illness widely and freely, and in doing so you will create an open dialogue. Because the symptoms of mental illness are very rarely physical, or at least not easily identifiable to others, there is a lot of shame and secrecy surrounding the issue. A contributing factor to this is people’s response to those who do open up about their condition – they are often met with remarks such as “Are you sure? It doesn’t really like you have that condition” or “I have a friend who suffers from that and she definitely has it worse! You should be really grateful yours isn’t that bad”. Comments such as these come from a place of naivety, not of malice, yet they can be really damaging to a person who has chosen to show their vulnerabilities. The amount of time people spend explaining their experience of mental illness is exhausting, and often results in reclusion and secrecy, to avoid yet another uncomfortable interrogation.
Here are some quick go-tos:
Never question someone’s illness, or tell them you know better
Be aware of the language you use
Inform yourself of how to talk about mental illness in a positive way
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
There are many avenues for instigating awareness and change within your family and social circles. Beyond promoting positive use of language and awareness through your own actions, how about boldly encouraging others to do the same? Start with the family, and make sure that everyone in your immediate circle are aware of the hardships that people affected by illness face each and every day. What about the workplace? Show initiative by encouraging greater education and engagement within your workplace! Here at Inspired Adventures we nominated a day for staff to wear their yoga gear, bring a $5 donation for a mental health charity, and spent our lunchtime together bringing awareness to and checking in with how each person was feeling. Checking in with one another on a regular basis, and promoting happy and healthy work/life balance is a great way to create a safe and open environment for staff. You could always take your involvement a step further, by seeking out and taking part in mental health awareness campaigns! Signing up to email alerts, newsletters and Facebook groups is a sure fire way to stay up to date with the events and campaigns happening in your area.
As members of a democratic society, we must make the most of our collective voice; power of the people (i.e. YOU!) is an incredibly influential tool and we should use this as best we can to create the changes we want to see. While we don’t have a say in the day to day decisions of our government, we can engage in campaigning and lobbying initiative as a way to grab the attention of our politicians, and demand a government which provides the services and support we wish to see surrounding mental health. As it stands, access to public mental health services is difficult at best, which has driven mental health services to become highly privatised, and easily accessible to only the wealthy and elite. As such, many suffering from mental illness push their need for medical assistance aside, perpetuating the issue and leaving them feeling vulnerable and powerless. Jump on board with mental health campaigns, or use a platform to create your own, and watch the amazing snowball effect that happens when people take the time to care.
If you’re passionate about mental health issues, visit our calendar to find the perfect challenge and mental health charity to support!
Life can get busy. It’s a constant balance of career and family life, trying to fit in exercise and relaxation time, to getting out and being social. For many, there are even more things we want to fit in, like giving back and helping those who need it. We often think giving is too hard and too time-consuming. But in reality, it’s not hard as we think, and we can all give a little more doing just a few simple things. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of ‘other ways to give’ – from apps to donating blood, to taking action online. Give your hands, your time and your heart. So why not take a little leap and try out these other ways to give and help make the world a better place.
There are a bunch of amazing apps out there that make giving easy. One of our favourites at Inspired HQ is Shout4good.
Shout For Good is an app that allows you to donate to your favourite non-profit organisations. You can choose to donate a certain amount, or you can choose to “shout” something else. For example, you want to donate to World Vision Australia. You can shout fast growing seeds for $10, or childhood immunisation for $25. It’s all about showing people the impact they’re making, what their dollar is worth and how a little goes a long way.
Donating blood is something most of us can do (minus the squeamish amongst us) and is relatively easy. You choose your time and place to donate via the donateblood.com.au website, have a quick interview on the day to make sure you’re a suitable candidate, and then you give blood! It takes about 5-10 minutes and you’re done! Currently only 1 in 30 people in Australia give blood, but 1 in 3 people will need blood in their lifetime.
Perhaps one of the simplest ways to give is donating old or unworn clothes and items to charity. Do a little spring clean (since it is the start of spring!) and grab a bag and fill it with clothes and other items you don’t need anymore. You can drop your bags of clothes in charity bins, or if you have other items like old furniture you can go straight to the Salvation Army or a Vinnies store. For more information about how to donate unused goods read this awesome article by 1 Million Women.
You must think we’re crazy – how does dining out help anyone but your own stomach? Well, here are two restaurants that help:
Feast of Merit is a social enterprise restaurant where 100% of their profits go to YGAP (a movement of entrepreneurs who change the lives of people living in poverty). We think that’s pretty cool.
Then there is Lentil as Anything where you pay what you feel is fair for the food you’ve received. The theory behind this restaurant is that everyone should be have the opportunity to dine out and be social regardless of their financial situation. It’s a financial model based on values of trust, generosity and respect. We love this!
Want to give to the environment? Why not take the 1 million women carbon challenge and reduce your CO2 pollution by 1 tonne. Yes, 1 whole tonne in just one year! You can choose different activities that work for you whilst making a huge impact on our Earth.
You can also take it upon yourself to be more informed about our environment and the impact humans are having on its balance. Charts and info graphics are readily available, you just have to be proactive and look! Check out this info graphic from the Climate Council.
Take action online
Want to take action on an issue close to your heart but don’t know where to begin? Start your own petition at change.org! Check out their website and get people backing a cause you’re passionate about.
You can also join a movement and put your name and voice behind a campaign you believe in. 350.org are currently campaigning hard to fight climate change and to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
And now we’d love to hear from you! What do you do in your daily life for good?