Carrying the Torch for Children

A One Just World Forum at the University of Sydney

11 June

Every child has a right to a childhood - the right to play, the right to grow, the right to be heard and the right to be protected from harm. But for many children, this is far from a reality. They come into this world innocent, trusting and full hope, but instead they are abused, exploited or forgotten – deprived of their childhood and basic human rights.

Children all over the world are enduring unimaginable hardship on a daily basis, with girls often being particularly vulnerable. From the very beginning, the odds are stacked against these children. Inadequate maternal health care in many countries means some do not even make it past early infancy. And even if they do, they may go hungry, suffer from malnutrition or have their most basic needs overlooked.

In many cases children are forced to work in hazardous conditions which can be detrimental to their physical and mental development. This is often at the expense of their education, and consequently, their dreams for the future, keeping them and their families locked in a cycle of poverty.

So what is the answer? While addressing poverty can reduce the risk of children being exposed to abuse, neglect and exploitation, is this the whole story? Is a focus on poverty alleviation enough? Or does the protection of children’s rights require a more targeted or holistic response?


Liz Jackson

Liz Jackson is a senior reporter at the ABC Four Corners program. She joined the ABC in 1986, as a reporter on ABC Radio National. She presented weekly magazine and specialist programs including radio documentaries from Somalia, Cambodia, Russia, Georgia, and Pakistan.

In 1994 Liz Jackson joined Four Corners. Her work as a reporter has included coverage of the fall of the Soeharto regime in Indonesia, corruption in international cricket, the war in Iraq and sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities. During her time at Four Corners she has won three Logie Awards for Outstanding Coverage of Public Affairs, seven Walkley Awards for her coverage of Indigenous Issues, International Affairs, Sport and Social Equity, and two Human Rights Awards. In 2005 Liz Jackson presented the ABC’s Media Watch program, returning to Four Corners in 2006. In 2006 she won the Gold Walkley for Excellence in Journalism.


Marta Maurás

Marta Maurás - Vice President and Member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Marta Maurás is an independent consultant in social policy, human rights and international relations. She was elected by States Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for the period 2009-2013.

A sociologist from the Catholic University of Chile, her association with UNICEF started in 1974 serving as regional adviser on women’s affairs in Latin America and the Caribbean based in Santiago, Chile. During 2008, Maurás was the Special Envoy of UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean. She has contributed to the reform agenda of the UN, the Millennium Summit and the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals; she coordinated the SG’s programme against HIV/AIDS and helped organize the General Assembly Special Session on the subject; participated in the design of peace operations in Kosovo, East Timor and Iraq; coordinated the implementation of an annual joint programme of exchanges with the European Union, among others. From 1992 to 1998 she was the UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, based in Bogotá, Colombia, leading key changes on the adoption of child rights and introducing modern management practices.

Justin Dillon

Justin Dillon - Founder and CEO of Made In A Free World

Justin Dillon is an artist, entrepreneur, public speaker, and abolitionist. He is the founder and CEO of Made In A Free World, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending modern-day slavery through innovative awareness campaigns, consumer advocacy and business solutions.

In 2008, Dillon made his directorial debut in the film, "CALL+RESPONSE," which revealed the world's 27 million dirtiest secrets: there are more slaves today than ever before in human history. In 2011, Dillon founded the website Slavery Footprint. Partnering with the U.S. State Department, they launched a multiple-award-winning website that asks the question, "How Many Slaves Work For You?" The website and associated mobile app, allows consumers to visualize how their consumption habits are connected to modern-day slavery and provides them with an opportunity to have a conversation with the companies that manufacture the goods they purchase.

Guna Vincent

Guna Vincent - Founder and Advisor at Indian NGO, Mahalir Sakthi

In 2005 Guna Vincent founded ‘Mahalir Sakthi’, an Indian NGO with the goal of empowering children and women of the most disadvantaged communities, particularly the Dalit, in the slums of Madurai, Tamil Nadu to escape from poverty. ‘Dalits’ are the name of a group of people who are born into the bottom rung of India’s caste system. Tradition assigns Dalits to all dirty laborious work in society, including gutter cleaning, manual scavengers, toilet cleaners, and garbage removalists. Dalit children are the major drop outs from their schools. Besides poverty they lack motivation and support from their parents, and are discriminated against by members of the community due to their dalit status. This results in children becoming child labours and inheriting the same demeaning tasks their parents performed. They are forced to remain bonded to money lenders to pay back the loans raised by their families.

Arathi Sriprakash

Arathi Sriprakash - Lecturer, Sociology of Education & International and Comparative Education, the University of Sydney

Arathi completed her PhD at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her research examined the negotiation of child-centred pedagogies in Indian rural primary schools. She is interested in the use of ethnographic methodologies to trace the translations of policy in development contexts. As a sociologist she has also worked on projects relating to socio-cultural diversity and disadvantage in the Australian, UK, and Indian contexts.

This One Just World Forum is supported by Unicef


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Sydney Ideas is delighted to be hosting another series of One Just World Forums at the University of Sydney in 2013.

One Just World is a national series of free, after-work speakers’ forums designed to involve the community in conversation and debate on key international development issues facing Australia, the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Past topics covered reflect the diversity of issues in this area: whether climate change, gender equality, international development, food and nutrition, human rights, or disability and development. All forums feature panel of experts that may include academics, economists, scientists, policy makers, and community workers. And you, the audience, will have an opportunity to put your questions to them.

One Just World a partnership between World Vision Australia, the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), AusAID and a University in each state.

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