I am writing to you to say a big thanks for supplying clothes to our recent mission in the Philippines with ‘Helping Children Smile’. We were in Iba, Zambales for 10 days performing cleft lip and palate operations. A representative from the AFP (based in Manila) delivered the most gorgeous collection of clothes to our post-operative patients and they were extremely happy! It's such a great idea you have. Both environmentally resourceful and supportive to those who are less fortunate.
– Dr Kim Fuller, Queensland Children's Hospital
For several years AFP and RPNGC members have been supporting the orphans from Life PNG Care in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. This ongoing positive interaction with the police has been a first for most of the kids. They now think police are ‘cool’ and think it is even cooler to be wearing a custom designed recycled piece of police uniform. A new item of clothing that has never been worn by another child before them is also a rare and appreciated gift.
– Michelle Harris, Papua New Guinea
When a police officer attends an incident which is often driven by very high emotions the forgotten victims can often be the children huddled in the corner watching events unfold. When I had the opportunity to get involved in the Uniforms 4 Kids program, I felt like I was able to give back to these same children in a small way. Seeing smiles put back on their faces when they see the beautifully repurposed clothes is a great thing to witness and I wholeheartedly congratulate the wonderful people behind this very worthy cause.
– Sergeant Mal Scott, Officer in Charge, Cooroy Police Station
We are so proud to give kids the chance to wear a zoo uniform to be Wildlife Warriors just like us!
– Bindi Irwin, Australia Zoo
We are so happy to be part of this initiative. Watching the kids' faces as they proudly wear their new clothes is so special.
– Robert Irwin, Australia Zoo
For me it is the sense of satisfaction that I have out of offering the students such a worthwhile and real-life experience – where they can learn not just about sustainability, but also about making a difference in the lives of others (yet still meet the syllabus expectations of an assessment item – how good it is to be able to do that!)
– Ruth Robinson, Home Economics Teacher, Trinity Bay State High School
I have been in the Torres Strait for over 7 years in general duties. While I am stationed on Thursday Island, we police all the islands in the Strait with the exception of Horn Island. Our division encompasses seventeen inhabited islands and a large expanse of water. We share an international border with Papua New Guinea (PNG) which abuts our Top Western Cluster, namely Saibai, Boigu and Dauan Islands. Saibai Island is the closest to PNG and is separated by a body of water approximately 3km across from Sigabadura Village. Persons from the Top Western Cluster (and other islands) and PNG are able to travel between islands without a visa, although subject to the Torres Strait Treaty agreement. This agreement has many benefits. It allows family members to travel and see each other and there is some trade between PNG and the Top Western Islands. The Torres Strait is not a wealthy region – a large percentage of islanders rely on government Centrelink payments and/or seasonal crayfishing. The villages at PNG are both isolated from their main centres and extremely poor. People live close to a subsistence lifestyle and have limited or no access to healthcare – travelling via dinghy to Saibai and Boigu in emergencies, and then dependent on tide and fuel levels. The cultural differences between PNG and Australia are enormous, particularly in relation to the treatment of women. Girls belong to their fathers until they get married and then to their partners. Marriage at 14 is not uncommon. With this cultural acceptation of the treatment of females and lack of healthcare, combined with the financial difficulties faced, food and shelter are the main concerns facing families. In short: life is cheap. Money is not spent on clothes or luxuries. With the proximity to the Torres Strait Islands, these issues are brought over the international border. Persons at PNG will often ‘island adopt’ their children to family members at islands in Australia in order to provide them with a better life. This puts further strain on already stretched incomes with people who are already struggling. Furthermore, because these children are not on a recognised visa, they have no access to Centrelink benefits or schooling which their ‘cousin sisters’ and ‘cousin brothers’ have. Being able to access the Uniforms 4 Kids program has been great. The clothing provided allows the children to receive new clothes – something that some of them have never had before. The children who cannot attend school are able to wear their new clothes and it gives them a sense of pride in themselves. The children who do attend school do so with a greater sense of self-worth – the clothes sometimes really do maketh the man (or woman). Two particular instances stand out – one was giving the PNG women at the foreshore the clothes that had been made by Uniforms 4 Kids. We had somewhat of a language difference but using a Torres Strait Island Police Support Officer (TSIPSO) to help, the women expressed their gratitude in being able to provide their daughters with new clothing. While it seems minor on the surface, this allowed the women to give their girls the message that actually they do matter, and they are important. Anything that allows the women to recognise their strength and improve their self-worth is a step in the right direction in terms of changing the ongoing attitude toward women. When sustenance, shelter and safety are the primary concerns, the ability to give something extra is invaluable. There were a lot of tears – the good kind. The other instance that stands out is distributing clothes and toys out at the school. One mother that I spoke to talked about her son who was born with health problems and has to wear a catheter. The boy, then seven, was able to play and function as his twin brother could but had frequent infections due to their inability to procure suitable trousers for him. There are no clothes available in the local shops and online delivery was not available on Saibai without extortionate shipping costs. Again, food and shelter are the financial priorities. The young fella wore shorts the majority of the time and this is not ideal when catheterised. Being able to provide trousers that fit him, along with a few pairs for when he gets bigger was a weight off his mother’s mind and beneficial to his health. I could probably go on for much longer about the benefits of this program – the benefits to the children who receive the clothes, their parents, the schools who have happier and more productive children, the improved relationship between the police and the community, the better relationships between the police and the school… But basically, this program works, it’s a great idea, it’s good for everyone and what sounds like a really small, simple thing makes an important difference to a lot of people.
– Susan Raimondo, Thursday Island Police
It warms my heart to see kids so excited about receiving these beautiful outfits.
– Terri Irwin, Australia Zoo