Category: Writing

A voice for the voiceless

It’s so inspiring when you get to meet someone who’s passionate about the same things in life as you and today I got to do just that. At the start of this year, I arrived back in Australia after three months travelling and volunteering in South East Asia with a Christian NGO called Destiny Rescue who work in rescuing young girls and women from sex-trafficking, while aiming to end child slavery in our lifetime.

The person who I met up with was Destiny Rescue marketing manager Tony Cunningham, to discuss how (as a writer) I can contribute to Destiny Rescue’s publicity and help get them known in the wider community. I have now made the decision to volunteer some of my time to write press releases and good news stories about the awesome work Destiny Rescue is doing as well as working on some multimedia marketing strategies for them. Because I’m so passionate, I’m also considering becoming an advocate and volunteer speaker for Destiny Rescue so I can share what they’re doing with people like you!

While what I experienced overseas was incredibly eye opening, heart wrenching and uplifting (all at the same time), I now feel compelled and encouraged to raise awareness and have conversations with people about human trafficking. Ultimately, we need to face the fact that slavery is real and that there are more slaves today than any other time in history. But with that said, there is something we can all do if we want to see an end to it.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”.

Since coming back, I have not only felt convicted about keeping in touch with Destiny Rescue staff and volunteers, but rather to continue in partnering with them now that I have seen for myself how they are empowering these young girls by giving them a hope and a future. In a sense, I feel responsible for getting the word out there, hence why I have chosen to be actively involved in becoming a ‘voice for the voiceless’.

As Destiny Rescue is a volunteer based organisation, 100 per-cent of child sponsorship funds are sent directly overseas to help children within the programs, with all additional fundraising done in Australia. It’s everyday people like you and me that can get involved and make a difference so, what are you waiting for?

In the upcoming weeks and months, Destiny Rescue has some fantastic events which I encourage you to support and get yourself (and a few friends) along to.

On the 7th and 8th of September, Destiny Rescue will be teaming up with Chant4Change, a charity benefit concert, combining music, acting and dancing in order to raise funds towards rescuing children from sexual slavery and ultimately create CHANGE.

This will be held at Lake Kawana Community Centre on the Sunshine Coast and is bound to be a fantastic night of entertainment (I’m certainly hoping to get along). For more information and to purchase tickets, check out their website and ‘like’ them on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/Chant-for-Change

But personally, what I’m looking forward to the most is the much anticipated release of Street Dreams, a documentary directed by Jason Bray which aims to expose the dark world of human trafficking and child prostitution, while seeking out the heroes behind the tales of hope and rescue of these enslaved victims (see trailer below).

The documentary premieres Australia wide on August 17 and features Destiny Rescue and the work they are doing in Thailand.

For those who are keen to see the premiere in Brisbane, it will be showing Friday 17 August, 7.30pm at Tribal Theatre (346 George Street). To purchase tickets or for more information about Street Dreams screening dates visit Red Earth Film Productions.

 

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Freelancing. What’s that?

Earlier this week I was given the chance to step back in time and be a student for a day, as my friend Rebecca had invited me to accompany her to the Walkley Foundation MediaPass Student Industry Day at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Being a ‘free’ event and having the day off work, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to hear some tips on how to become a freelance writer/journalist and what it all entails. I must say I’m glad I went along (thanks Bec) as I found the day inspiring and insightful. There were so many fantastic guest speakers including Courier Mail assistant editor Trent Dalton, freelance writers Benjamin Law and Lee Mylne plus Triple J Hack reporter Alex Mann.

As panel sessions were structured in a Q&A style, many of the questions I had lingering in the back of my mind about freelancing were answered. Questions like, how do you pitch to publications? How much should you get paid for your work? Plus there was tips on how to secure government funding if you’re a freelancer starting out (thanks Ben!) Oh and apparently if you’re a writer, you shouldn’t be offering to work for free. In the words of Lee Mylne, “if its good enough to be published, it’s good enough to be paid for”.

As highlighted by Benjamin Law (who currently contributes to frankie, The Monthly, Qweekend and Good Weekend), being a freelance writer is far from a glamorous. You spend much of the day cooped up in the house in front of a laptop/computer wearing your pajamas. Occasionally a friend might call and ask if you want to do lunch or coffee in which you use it as an excuse to escape the ‘office’.

Brisbane-based writer Benjamin Law © 2012 Paul Harris

If there’s anything that I learnt and took away from the day, it’s the following:

1. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Particularly know the strengths of your story ideas and know your weaknesses as an interviewer.

2. Pitch only what you can deliver and give editors what they want. Building a relationship with editors is vital!

3. NETWORK! As the saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know. Get some allies and build yourself a support network.

4. Freelancing consists of two things – writing and marketing yourself! The two go hand in hand.

5. Be confident in your own work and be willing to persevere. You must be hungry at all times and in the words of Andrew McMillen, “hunger can’t be learned, only encouraged”.