Somewhere in between being an author, a journalist, a political commentator and a mum, speaking out for reproductive rights, women’s rights and marriage equality, plus recovering from a craniotomy for a benign brain tumour, Jamila Rizvi is also finding time to help defend the right of every child to be in a safe and loving home. Like the Hemsworth brothers, Jamila is an Ambassador for the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF), and, to top off her extensive list of amazingness, she’s (also like the Hemsworth brothers) JUST. SO. LOVELY.
I recently had the privilege of chatting to her about what she calls “the shocking child abuse statistic Australia should be ashamed of”: 390,000 – yes 390 THOUSAND – cases of child abuse reported in our country in 2017. That’s one child EVERY TWO MINUTES. As ambassador for the ACF, Jamila is making sure we all know about the gravity of the problem, as well as the Healing Hearts initiative, a program to help children recover from the trauma of child abuse using therapeutic dolls. The ACF has teamed up with The Body Shop for 12 months to fund the dolls ($3 from every tube of Almond Milk and Honey Soothing and Restoring Body Lotion goes to the cause – umm, yes please!) and, the best bit? Researchers are actually finding the dolls are having a direct, positive impact on the kids who are using them, engaging them through play and imagination, managing their stress levels and helping them heal and recover. Here’s what Jamila had to say about this important project:
What attracted you to this amazing cause?
Jamila: I love the work of the Australian Childhood Foundation as they are child-focused in everything they do. I know that sounds trite with so many organisations who work for or around children but I have seen first hand from friends what this organisation can do for families, intervening to get them out of poverty or horrific situations.
Have you seen how these therapeutic dolls can help children?
Jamila: I’ve watched them come to life having been involved with them from the early stages. From drawings to creation and then hearing psychologists praise and explain how these dolls help traumatised children. It’s not something I see in person because children see their psychologists privately but, having a toddler myself, I understand how stories, toys and play are a critical part of how he learns or sees the world. I can see, for a little kid who may’ve suffered sexual or physical violence, poverty and betrayal of those who are meant to be caring for them… coming to terms with that is enormous.
Is the aim to lessen the statistics of trauma amongst Aussie children?
Jamila: The focus has to be A: on prevention, making sure less children fall into these circumstances. And B: when they do fall into them or they do experience trauma, we are there to catch them when they fall. Unfortunately healing doesn’t happen quickly.
Why should people support this important charity?
Jamila: I don’t think we will feel comfort until we see a shift in the alarming numbers of children in some kid of trauma. But while there’s ever a child who goes through that kind of adversity and abuse, I want to know that although it cannot be undone once it’s occurred, I need to know there’s organisations like ACF to help any way they can. Heal the trauma as soon as possible. It’s delightful to know these great organisations exist. Supporting young parents through the journey of parenthood is imperative.
Why The Body Shop as a supporter?
Jamila: They’re a remarkable Australian brand and they have an ethical approach to everything. Previously, most people would associate the company with causes to do with stopping animal cruelty being at the forefront of negative beauty products tested on animals. In the past decade, they have branched out into humanitarian causes which I’m also involved in. They are great supporters, putting their money where their mouth is for the charity or philanthropy sector.
You must be really proud of your sister Miriam (who works with kids):
Jamila: Oh my god, ridiculously proud! I wasn’t expecting that question (laughs). I could blush and brag about my sister all day long. I do all the time anyway! She is someone who is not just ambitious or a big dreamer but actually makes things happen. She is someone who sees a gap in our world for what children need. Rather than waiting for someone to come along and fill the void, she successfully filled it in herself. I’m so grateful as her sister. I’m loving seeing her doing what makes her so happy and also excited, just as a mum, as my little boy glows when he’s with Mim. Plus he loves The Beanies (magnificent performing group for children). They’re a wonderful non-screen distraction!
If you’d like to share Jamila Rizvi’s vision in defending the right of all children to be in a safe and loving environment, please check out www.childhood.org.au for more info.
And you can check out Jamila’s latest books below:
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