• P.O.V
  • By Emma Brain
  • Agency

Renee Pettitt-Schipp on AGENCY

Renee Pettitt-Schipp

When we act, we modify the shape of the world. Jean-Paul Sartre

When thinking of the term agency, I remembered a quote by Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre wrote that when we act, we modify the shape of the world. To an extent we already know this ̶ when we protest and lobby governments, these actions help shape the societies we live in. But I believe when we are authentic, when we speak our truth, learn how to love, these acts also mold how our world becomes.

I felt like I had agency when I won the Premier’s Literary Award. When I returned to Perth from Christmas Island, the Border Force Act came into place, so I risked a two year jail term if I spoke about Australia’s detention system. At the award ceremony, in front of several hundred people including government ministers, I told the story of Ali Reza who had his childhood stolen by mandatory detention. It was one of the most important moments in my life.

State Library WA: Renee Pettitt-Schipp: Oral History and the Christmas Island Board Tragedy

 

Reneé Pettitt-Schipp is an award winning writer and educator who lived in the Indian Ocean Territories from 2011 until 2014. Renee’s work with asylum seekers in detention on Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) islands inspired her first collection of poetry, ‘The Sky Runs Right Through Us’. This manuscript was shortlisted for the inaugural Dorothy Hewett manuscript prize and released by UWA Publishing in February 2018. Reneé’s work has been recognised through many literary awards, including the ACU literature prize, the Ros Spencer Poetry Prize, the Grief Poetry Prize and the Trudy Graham Biennial Literary Award.

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