The RSA A+NZ, and especially its chairperson, Paul, have been an invaluable support for me during the Justice Citizens program. I remember speaking to Paul early in 2010 about a possible 3Ps proposal at Yot’s Cafe near the Australian Maritime Museum. It was a really formative chat – the ideas that Paul suggested then really became integral to the final structure of Justice Citizens. In addition to the shared expertise of Paul and other Fellows, the RSA generiously provided financial support for the program, which enabled me to purchase additional equipment.
Recently, I was asked by Paul to present my findings to the RSA A + NZ chapter at their AGM, a duty which I was more than happy to fulfil. It was good to speak to the RSA for a number of reasons; firstly, I was able to invite to the day a couple of people who hadn’t made the actual film festival so they were able to hear my speak about it, as well as view some of the films. I was also able to invite a number of the students to reflect upon the process and then, to their credit, they spoke at length about the project and what they had got out of it.
There was one really interesting point: I spoke a little bit about how one of the disappointments of the project, for me, had been that the students hadn’t really engaged in a critique of the social or structural causes of some of the issues like homelessness. I expressed that I was disappointed that this hadn’t happened, and said that it raised some interesting questions about how to encourage this kind of development.
Then the three students got up to speak, and every single one of them mentioned how the program had encouraged them to look beyond what was often presented in the media – looking for a second side of the story. Now if that’s not an example of critical thought, then I’m not really sure what is!