‘Everyone Belongs’ is the theme of Harmony Week 2017, and using the power of storytelling, the Hobart Human Library is living up to it.
The Library is a collection of human “books” from diverse backgrounds, each telling their story of discrimination and stereotyping through face-to-face conversation.
As part of statewide Harmony Week celebrations, the Library set up in the Hobart CBD.Event volunteer Greg Sawyer said the “books” have been subject to discrimination for a
Event volunteer Greg Sawyer said the “books” have been subject to discrimination for a variety of reasons.
“Our “books” include refugees and migrants, people from the LGBTI community, family carers, people of short stature and people with acquired brain injuries,” he said.
“It’s been fantastic to see the books themselves grow in confidence, and it helps them deal with the issues they’ve faced.”
Mr Sawyer said the program has had a positive impact on the community, from individuals saying they need to think before they judge, to people identifying systematic problems.
Human “book” John Ward raised his four grandchildren as their parents struggled with drug addiction.
He said no one would listen to him until he got involved with the Human Library.
“People looked at you as though you were an idiot for taking them on, even within your own family,” Mr Ward said.
He had to lobby the State Government and Centrelink for 18 months before he was given any financial assistance to raise the children.
Ward insists he’s not the only grandparent carer that has struggled having their voice heard, and he now works as a public educator, helping other grandparent carers navigate the system.
He said he’s grateful for being able to tell his story.
“It’s been a really worthwhile experience,” he said.
“I wouldn’t change it for quids.”
Harmony Week runs from 20th to the 26th of March.
This is one of a series of five pieces written for assessment for HEJ255: News Contemporary Practice and Analysis.