Jessica Hackett is a high school teacher in Melbourne. In February 2016 she hand delivered a petition to the House of Representatives in the hopes that asylum seekers and refugees can finally be treated with dignity and respect. Russell Broadbent MP, agreed to show his support by presenting the petition to The House of Representatives.
Click HERE to view the petition.
The message of this project is a positive one. It is about the welcoming spirit of the Australian people. To demonstrate this, Jess walked from Melbourne to Canberra and documented the ways people offered her hospitality and support along the way.
She visited organisations and individuals who are helping and supporting asylum seekers and refugees. She visited people and documented stories from those who have settled here in Australia and also asked about their experiences and the hospitality they receive.
Jess meets the Bhutanese refugees in Wodonga
A fine welcome from the Wangaratta community
With the help of BASP, GADRC, RAR, RAN, RCOA, ASRC, BRASA, CAPSA, many religious organisations including the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting Churches, Jess' school, family, friends, volunteers along the way and amazing Project Manager, Peita Collard, Jess made it to Canberra carrying the signatures of OVER 17,000 PEOPLE.
Russell Broadbent MP presented the petition in Parliament. Almost 10 months later The Minister of Immigration, Peter Dutton, responded. Naturally, being a teacher, Jess has graded his response and given him some feedback.
Russell Broadbent MP presents The Welcome Petition in Parliament, Feb 2016.
My response to Dutton's response. Click on the picture to read.
In a nutshell, Journey of a Thousand Smiles is a theatrical show about Jess' journey to Canberra and the people she will never forget.
Together with 5pound theatre, Jess has developed and performed the story of her walk. She wanted to share her amazing experiences with others and inspire them to stand up for social justice. It's also Jess' way of saying thank you to all those who supported her along the journey.
Jess plans to tour Journey of a Thousand Smiles in the towns she walked through. Her show is available to hire and is highly engaging for a variety of audiences, including high schools.
Jess performing Journey of a Thousand Smiles at The Butterfly Club, Melbourne, Jan 2017.