In 2011, the Commissioner sponsored a Perth International Arts Festival project called Talking Couches, which gave a voice to the aspirations and experiences of children and young people from diverse backgrounds who live in Perth’s southern suburbs.
Perth artist Lewis Horne worked with Sudanese young people from the PROSPECT group in Port Kennedy, Aboriginal students from Melville Senior High School and young people from Youth Reach South in Cockburn to create five Talking Couches.
The themed couches featured built-in audio systems which delivered pre-recorded stories from the young people who designed them. Topics included the excitement of playing in state basketball, the challenges of moving from the country to the city, the impact of losing a loved one and reflections on the differences between living in Africa and Australia.
The Talking Couches were displayed in metropolitan locations during the Festival and also at the Perth Writer’s Festival Family Day, where project participants were recognised at a special presentation
The participants said that they had enjoyed learning many new skills and sharing their stories during the project. They also reported that it made them proud to see their Talking Couch on display.
The Talking Couches have found long-term homes in places such as the Commissioner’s office and the State Library of Western Australia.