“Why aren’t more people jumping up and down about this issue?” said UN Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs earlier this year, about mandatory detention for children.
Despairing at the plight of children being held in appalling conditions in Australian detention centres, Virginia Francis, Education Officer at the Catholic Education Office Sydney, felt the same way and decided to do something about it.
With the words of Triggs ringing in her ears, she began ‘Jump Up&Down 4 Kids’, a campaign designed to bring the plight of children in immigration detention into the public conscience,.
Her idea is a simple and fun one: Simply photograph or video people – work colleagues, friends, family, anyone – literally jumping up and down and share the image or video on social media.
It’s an idea that’s catching on. People of all ages and from all walks of life have ‘jumped for kids’, including former Australian of the Year Ian Kiernan, former Wiggle Greg Page, Olympians Melissa Wu and James Magnussen, NSW State of Origin player Josh Reynolds and the entire CEO Sydney Leadership Team.
Soon Jump Up&Down 4 Kids will even have its own song to be released on iTunes in September.
Virginia believes the idea has captured people’s imagination because “they know in their hearts that keeping young children locked up is simply cruel.”
“Keeping children in prison-like conditions is not only hurting them, it is hurting us all,” Virginia said. “All children, regardless of where they come from have a right to play, learn, and feel safe. Jump Up &Down 4 Kids is a call for action, not just in Catholic schools but in the broader community.”
Virginia told us that there are currently around 213 children in detention. She believes that many people are ‘fatigued’ by reports of children in detention and is hoping that, by raising awareness of this issue with a high-profile campaign, the policy will ultimately be abolished.
“We wouldn’t stand by if children next door to us were being harmed, so why are we standing by while these children are being harmed?” she asks.
At a recent lunch celebrating Australian authors at the home of Better Reading director, Cheryl Akle, we asked some Aussie authors to show their support for the project – see below.
To find out more about Jump Up&Down 4 Kids go to the Facebook page or follow the campaign on Twitter at @Jumping4Kids.