The voice of youth on Human Rights Day
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and celebrate Human Rights Day, Community Arts Network (CAN) came together with the Museum of Freedom and Tolerance WA (MFTWA) and Edmund Rice Youth Leaders program to hold a three-day activation of Yagan Square to critique and question the relevance of the document, seven decades on.
Issues in focus
Human Rights, Youth Participation, Arts & Culture
In Paris on 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. Upon reaching the document’s 70th anniversary, questions were raised about its relevance to young people today. MFTWA and CAN aimed to raise awareness about the fundamental framework of rights, and encourage younger generations to participate in the process, both as a means to reflect on these rights and celebrate these landmark rights through the lens of young people.
The DrawHistory team was tasked to help ideate, design and reimagine this document with multiple stakeholders, from community creatives to June Oscar AO, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.
Using community arts practice, facilitated through workshops with Youth Leaders at Edmund Rice Centre WA and CAN, the Declaration was brought to life through the eyes of young people. Together, they explored what the rights were, how they affect us, and their relevance to young people through photography and art. The result was a youth-led Pocket Guide, successfully transforming the 70-year-old document into a contemporary creative form, accompanied by a series of grassroots-driven posters. This was launched leading up to and at a three-day event in Yagan Square, a cultural hub in downtown Perth.
Over the course of the event, the area was activated through workshops, pop-up creative areas, and talks. By working together, the project has become a celebration of history’s intentions, our universal humanity, and a reminder of hope.
The DrawHistory team initially suggested that any document for youth should be created by youth. MFTWA agreed and brought the idea to CAN and Edmund Rice Centre. As the partnerships were confirmed, we were excited to learn that WA children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds would participate in the project.
Youth Leaders from Edmund Rice Centre explored the relevance of the UN Declaration to them through a series of workshops. These workshops gave the children the opportunity to explore what the rights were, what they meant to them, and how they could be relevant to today’s society. The children expressed their opinions and ideas through a series of photographs and videos that were self-directed. These eventually became an integral part of the Pocket Guides which were handed out at Yagan Square and by publication, The West Australian.
Leveraging augmented reality
Another project partner, eVista, also answered the call to leverage augmented reality technology to ensure that users didn’t just see the photographs, but heard from the children directly.
A series of posters were created by the DrawHistory team, featuring some of the UN Declaration’s articles and photographs taken by the Youth Leaders. These posters, placed throughout the CBD and in cultural hubs across Perth, were brought to life by scanning the images through the eVista app. By downloading the app, members of the public could activate a video of the child in the photograph speaking about what the UN Declaration means to them. Some of the images in the Pocket Guide could also be activated, identifiable by the eVista logo.
Activating Yagan Square
Between 9-11 December, all of our project partners joined the festivities at Yagan Square with Dr Anne Aly MP, and the Edmund Rice Centre youth leaders, to launch the Pocket Guide together.
The WA Museum supported us in using Yagan Tower as a digital broadcast for the Pocket Guide in one of the busiest intersections of the city, while the City of Perth helped set up a playground space for children and families.
Over three days, between the dance performances, exhibitions, pop-up play spaces, and even a chatterbox creatively exploring Article 24 of the UN Declaration, the public was encouraged to engage with the free activities, and explore what human rights meant to them.
This activation at Yagan Square, was ultimately a catalyst for community discussions and youth engagement, that saw the creative transformation of the UN Declaration from a 70-year-old document into a relevant and powerful framework for freedom and equality.
* Photography in this case study was produced by Duncan Wright