The inevitability of death is something everyone has to face, not just our own but of those around us – friends, family, pets and loved ones. As adults, we struggle to cope with the impact of grief and bereavement, but as children we are often shielded from death. Adults are reluctant to explain the full ramifications of loss and what our mortality means, as if being young somehow exempts a person from reality.
St Martins Youth Arts Centre has always been a focal point for innovation and cultural investigation, providing young people with a voice and a platform through which they can explore and respond to ideas.
As we examine the big questions, a group of children aged 9 to 17 from St Martins Youth Arts Centre join our host to lend their views on one of the biggest taboos of all – death. What information do young people have on death? How is their understanding of mortality formed? Are they afraid, or do they accept it? What can they teach us from their personal experiences of death?
Satchmo is nine years old. He loves theatre-making and football. Satchmo doesn’t like school because he finds it boring and there is not enough time there for daydreams.
Maima is in Year 12. She loves school because she gets to meet lots of new people all the time and she believes this is deeply enriching. Maima loves fashion and recently designed a range of cocktail dresses in Liberian fabrics, which are very special to her mother.
Tom is in Year 10 and is an emerging film-maker. He has a passion for art house films and respects beautiful cinematography. Tom is also a contemporary dancer and he relishes the freedom that comes from collaborating with his fellow dancers and responding to music and image. Tom is fascinated by way that small, delicate stories can teach us big things about our world.
Max is 12 and has just started high school. He likes to host dinner parties, where current affairs are discussed and large volumes of wasabi are consumed. He was born in Darwin where his parents ran a music program with local Indigenous kids. He plays a vintage violin.
Nyah feels most passionate about Art. She is angry about the environment and feels as though we are wrecking it and nobody seems to care.
Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award winning journalist, presenter and podcaster with the ABC, presenting flagship national programs including Life Matters (2012-2016), founder of the popular show All in the Mind (2002-12), and now a new science, culture and storytelling program, Science Friction on ABC Radio National.