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Children's Voices in Contemporary Australia

Date: Friday 9 September 2016
Venue: The Ian Potter Auditorium, Kenneth Myer Building, The Dax Centre, 30 Royal Parade, The University of Melbourne
Symposium organisers:
Dr Melissa Raine (melissa.raine@unimelb.edu.au), Associate Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions
Penelope Lee (penelope.lee@unimelb.edu.au), Education and Outreach, ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

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Download event program



Children's Voices Presentations

Do children in contemporary Australia have adequate opportunities to tell their own stories in their own voices? What do they want us to hear? How well, as a society, are we listening? Seven young people aged 10-19 share their unique insights into these questions in the Young People's Panel of the Children's Voices In Contemporary Australia symposium, September 9th 2016.

Blog Post

Read "Reflecting on Children’s Voices: Creating space to listen" (CHE blog, 16 September 2016) by Symposium organiser Melissa Raine.


The Emotional Embodied Nature of Human Understanding: Making Meaning in Shared Projects of Discovery.

This talk examines the emotional, embodied nature of human understanding before it achieves linguistic expression, as a route to understanding basic principles of social awareness, affective contact, and learning,
and how to work with them.

Dr Jonathan Delafield-Butt, Senior Lecturer in Child Development, The University of Strathclyde, UK. His work examines the origins of human experience and the embodied and emotional foundations of development.

Symposium Abstract

This one-day public symposium will explore the status of children’s voices and their ability to tell their own stories in contemporary Australia. A blend of keynote, researcher and practitioner paper and poster presentations, youth panel, art, film and performance will tackle socio-cultural, institutional, developmental and legal models and concepts surrounding the voice of the child. All participants will be given the opportunity to contribute to a collective response that addresses the following questions and concerns:

  • the concept of “voice” as an instrument of personal and political
  • what is involved and at stake in the ability to narrate one’s own
  • do children in contemporary Australia have a capacity to tell their own
  • how does neuroscience provide insight into storytelling, especially from
    the perspective of child development?
  • how do we ensure that unconventional, unexpected, or disturbing
    forms of narration from children are met with flexible, robust and
    supportive responses in contemporary Australia?
  • This interdisciplinary symposium will bring together researchers, practitioners and professionals who work with and support children, families and carers, as well as children and young people with lived experience. It will provide an opportunity for pooling knowledge, insights and experiences to strengthen our overall understanding of the significance and value of children’s voice, as well as when, and how, children can make themselves heard.


The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

Emotions shape individual, community and national identities. The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (www.historyofemotions.org.au) uses historical knowledge from Europe, 1100-1800, to understand the long history of emotional behaviours.

The Dax Centre

The Dax Centre is a learning organisation committed to increasing community awareness and understanding of mental illness and psychological trauma through art. Using selections of artworks from the Cunningham Dax Collection, which consists of artworks and poetry created by people with a lived experience of mental illness or psychological trauma, as the centrepiece of its learning programs and exhibitions. The Dax Centre generates meaningful ways to share knowledge, ideas and research about the mind, mental health and wellbeing.


Image: Brock Brown, Feelings of Black Saturday, 2009, acrylic on paper, 29.6 x 41.8 cm, The Cunningham Dax Collection, 2015.0091