Students use art to advocate for asylum seekers


Hundreds of students across Victoria have used art to bring stories of asylum seekers to life. They've taken inspiration from the issue to advocate for those seeking asylum in Australia.

In the hands of school children the old adage, a picture can speak a thousand words, has been proven once more.

Hundreds of students across Victoria have used art to express their views and show support for those seeking asylum in Australia. 

As part of an art competition, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in Victoria encouraged the students and others in an open age category to use art as a way to advocate for a social justice issue. 

The organisation's youth and education manager Michelle Pereira told SBS it was more than just a competition - it was about making advocacy accessible to everyone to ensure their voices were heard.

She said Vinnies had worked with schools to include this year's theme of asylum seekers and stories of humanity in the curriculum to give students a better understanding of an issue the world is struggling to cope with. 

"The wonderful thing about asking for a youth voice on a topic like this is you get real compassion, you get real respect and you see that they are passionate about these things," Ms Pereira said.

"[They] have a voice on what's a really contemporary issue that's challenging the Australian conscious at the moment." 

She said the response from young people had encouraged and provided a lot of hope for the community. 

Lucia Roohizadegan won an award in the competition for her painting of a crying dove. 

She said it was a symbol of hope, freedom and peace when people were trapped in the process of seeking asylum.

"The golden wattle represents the safety that Australia would be giving to asylum seekers and could also serve as an invitation to Australia," she said. 

The 15-year-old said she knew little about asylum seekers but still felt, "very, very sad and I guess very angry no-one is really taking this into their own hands with suitable action".

"A stroke of a paintbrush and colours and symbols are much more powerful than speech or words," she said.

Her mother, Katarina, said she hoped those who could make a change would listen and be inspired by the younger generation and some of their art. 

More than 260 artworks are part of the exhibition, which will run until Tuesday on the corner of Wreckyn and Courtney Streets, North Melbourne. 

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