In this week’s episode, Josh is talking to HY William Chan who was a Finalist in the 2019 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards, NSW/ACT.
HY William Chan, 29 of Camperdown has worked towards urban sustainability through architecture and social innovation for over 10 years. A Convocation and University Medallist, William has led community-building projects for the homeless, slum dwellers and refugees around the world. His design solutions have been showcased across 40 cities globally and recognised by over 90 industry accolades. Recently, he founded a plastic waste circular economy initiative that educates youth in design-thinking and STEM skills, which was presented at the 2018 UN General Assembly. Named one of Australia’s ‘Brightest Young Minds’, William is a Fellow of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and volunteers as a surf lifesaver at Maroubra Beach.
In this episode:
- We get to hear how committed William is in helping the plight of refugees, not by giving handouts but empowering them to help themselves
- William’s journey has taken him to the refugee camps in Greece and beyond, making a difference to all he meets
Want to nominate someone? (It can take as little as 2 minutes to recognise someone making a difference)
Welcome to the inspirational Australians podcast, where we chat to people, making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today. Josh Woodfin.
Thanks for joining us for this week’s dose of inspiration. I’m really excited to have someone, uh, coming on today at short notice. So I do want to thank HY William Chan is 30 from Sydney, and he’s worked at what urban sustainability through architecture and social innovation for over 10 years, William has led community building projects for the homeless, slum, dwellers and refugees around the world. A recent UNICEF ambassador. He’s a headline TEDx speaker and is named by Forbes magazine on their 30 under 30 list. Recently he found that a plastic waste circular economy initiative that educates youth in design thinking and STEM skills, which was presented at the 2018 UN general assembly this year, William featured at number 19 of 100 inspiring Australians as part of the Quantus centenary and in the top 25 most influential people in the Australian social sector by pro bono Australia.
He volunteers at Maruba beach as a surf lifesaver, and is recognized as a national leader through surf, lifesaving, Australia, national leadership college. We came across William when he was a 2019 finalist in the Western Sydney university academic achievement award. So William, welcome to today. Yeah, absolute pleasure. William, as I said, it wasn’t a bit of a short notice thing, so yeah, really appreciate you jumping on and having this chat. And I wanted to get started by just asking you where your passion kind of lies because that bio has so many different elements and so many things that you’re involved with.
HY William Chan (01:53):
Yeah. It’s interesting that you mentioned I was involved in the academic achievement, a load. Uh, a lot of my work, uh, could have ended up facing in the other categories. Um, that’s on offer through the awards program, uh, from science technology to, uh, social impacts and community service. Uh, I feel a lot of, um, my passions, uh, STEM from actually trying to make a difference. Um, a lot of what I do is really about, um, creating the greatest impact, uh, specifically around how we can design for dignity, um, in our cities, uh, with my background in architecture, it’s been something that I’ve been looking at in terms of, from a social and environmental lens and it’s, uh, having, uh, during my university is having had the chance to actually work in our slums in, uh, South Africa and India. That really, uh, heightened my understanding of the direct impact that people’s living spaces, the built environment can have in terms of, uh, improving and uplifting, um, our communities, uh, you know, we’re all surrounded by buildings and by architecture and the environments and, uh, navigating that, especially during this time where, uh, there’s a stronger focus, much more on our changing climate, as well as the natural environment, uh, is something that I’m very much interested in pursuing.
Yeah, for sure. And for me, when I think sustainability, you know, not being an expert in that, in that area at all, you’re right. I do think more natural environment, um, and you know, things like fossil fuels and those kinds of topics that come up a lot in the media. And that is really interesting to think about from a built environment and from architecture and how that plays a part. So that must’ve been so interesting to be in South Africa and India. Can you tell us, um, before I kind of go into that, did you, when you grew up in Sydney, is that right?
HY William Chan (04:02):
Uh, so I, um, grew up, uh, in Brisbane actually, and moved to Sydney, um, uh, to study a university, um, in Sydney. And I’ve been in Sydney ever since. So really, um, for about 12, 12 years now.
Yeah. So growing up in Australia, Brisbane and Sydney, and then was it some serious culture shock being in slums and South Africa and India?
HY William Chan (04:27):
It was, it was absolutely, um, quite confronting actually, uh, saying, uh, the living conditions, uh, with, uh, roll series kind of open, um, infrastructure, uh, that was where the Chili’s is on the streets, uh, and being exposed to the lack of water sanitation amenity, uh, particularly, but also in terms of the lack of, um, adequate shelter, especially in areas like this, where you have a lot of transient populations and a lot of, um, highly dense, uh, P uh, populations living in close proximity to each other. There are a lot of problems in terms of also the politics that go on in local communities in terms of urban governance and how policies and decisions are being made, um, even in an informal settlement. So being a part of that learning and seeing first hand, um, how the skills of an architect in terms of design thinking and creatively solving problems, uh, directly with the community and with the users was something where, you know, I, I learned a lot in terms of those kinds of facilitation skills, but also how to empower, uh, communities from a human rights perspective, um, from, you know, from a bottom up, um, to really ensure that they’re the, who are leading and, uh, very much so that they’re the ones who are know what their own issues are in terms of their living environments and how they can solve, solve that.
Yeah. Is that a common issue? I mean, I assume it is that say a government or, or, you know, other contractor comes into to do one of these projects and improve the infrastructure, but they haven’t properly, you know, consulted with the actual people who live there who use those facilities.
HY William Chan (06:26):
Absolutely. So in, uh, South Africa, um, the city of Johannesburg actually, uh, uh, had started upgrading, um, the, the township, uh, I worked in Diepsloot, which was the most notorious township in Joburg, and they had started getting bulldozers in and, uh, basically flattening the, the informal settlements and instead, uh, then replacing the, the informal housing with these concrete two story houses, um, on blocks and had fences around them and no one wanted to live in them. Um, and it’s interesting when you don’t consult with community and engage in terms of what their actual needs are and, uh, put a top down solution that doesn’t really work because we have to understand that, uh, that these communities exist. Um, and it’s not just a physical, it’s not just that environment that they’re living in, but very much so about the social, very much about their, their community and those relationships that they have and how we can actually, uh, see that as an opportunity, as a positive opportunity to then really enhanced enhance it.
HY William Chan (07:52):
Um, and this particular scenario, uh, I actually was lucky enough to go back five years on from my first, uh, uh, time working with the community there. And, uh, the government has had to change their tactics. Um, you know, for us, in terms of upgrading the public toilets, there are only public toilets, um, in the, in the slum community. Um, we also had to evolve how we were measuring impact and success, and we had to use smart technologies, uh, ended up installing sensors to toilets that had been upgraded. And then also putting sensors to those who toilets, who, uh, which hadn’t been upgraded yet. Um, just to look at, you know, how much water was leaking out. So how much energy are we saving? How much, how much do you use does it actually gets by the community? Um, and by doing so, we were able to ensure that we have the right evidence to show the local council, the local government, um, so that we can actually prove that, you know, the work we’re doing is, is, um, having an impact to people.
HY William Chan (09:08):
And I think, you know, that’s very powerful in terms of not just a method of, for the government to actually say, need evidence in terms of, um, providing funding. You know, for me, I thought, you know, surely we’ve got new toilets and they were functional, they’re safe. Women are using them that that’s always a good outcome by a turnout that, you know, when we’re dealing with bureaucracies and governments, that, uh, they don’t really care so much in terms of these stories and those narratives about the people’s experience basis want to know, do you have the evidence, do you have the data to show that this is working and what is working? And, you know, we, we had to change tax because of that. Um, and it was just fantastic going back and being able to see that they had installed, um, street signs, you know, um, that they were giving the place a sense of dignity in terms of here’s an address, you know, you, the community lives at an address. It’s not just, um, a site on the peripheral of the city where it’s forgotten.
And I think that’s an interesting point you made about, you know, whether it’s governments or big corporations, whatever it is that, you know, um, quantitative data is. So isn’t what they use, but that only tells so much, and you really need the qualitative data to tell the full story and get the actual human experience.
HY William Chan (10:39):
I mean, you know, I, I do understand, uh, the importance of that and actually, um, having, uh, that, uh, quantitative evidence, but at the same time, you know, you know, I, I kind of also appreciate that. It’s so important that these decision makers and stakeholders actually go down to visit and see for themselves, and then actually talk to the community, actually talk to the users, actually see the new, the new solutions that’s been put in and actually, uh, you know, create those relationships to work out, you know, how they’re measuring success that is potentially even more important. Um, the qualitative narrative, um, because they’re coming from people they’re coming from the actual users.
So this phrase design for dignity. Can you tell me a bit more about that? You know, did you come across that phrase? Is that something that you were always passionate about or you discovered it in that LinkedIn with your, you know, your values, how did that,
HY William Chan (11:41):
I use that term design for dignity, uh, to really look at how, um, vulnerable communities can be involved, can participate, but also have a voice in terms of decision making in terms of how their livelihoods, um, are affected by the environment, whether that’s housing say, uh, here in Sydney affordability, tackling, um, homelessness, uh, locally in our backyard, too. Um, what a sanitation to having basic access to infrastructure and seeing elements that we might take for granted, uh, say here in Sydney, um, actually, uh, not accessible in other places in the world and, uh, to really focus on not just providing a solution, but providing a solution that actually gives people a sense of dignity in terms of, um, their, their value and their involvement and their participation in society. Talking about, uh, public toilets in, in a township in South Africa, it’s not just about, um, you know, making sure that the plumbing works, that, uh, the toilet flushes that the water gets flushed down to proper infrastructure and isn’t leaking.
HY William Chan (13:01):
It really is also then taking into account, you know, do women, do children feel safe in these, uh, in these facilities? Um, and a lot of, um, women, uh, in the past wouldn’t go, they would go somewhere else because, uh, being public toilets, they’re unsafe, it’s, you know, it’s not a very dignified way to be able to, uh, to live in that way. So, you know, we worked with the local community to, especially with, um, with, uh, women in, um, in the local area to see how can we actually make sure that they felt that these facilities were also for them and specifically design around that. And I think, you know, design can really be that tool that helps, you know, we talk about design thinking more and more in a business sense for companies and corporations to, uh, be able to address future disruptions that we have, but at the same time, it’s the perfect tool to be using, to actually work with.
Yeah, for sure. You know, speaking about here in Sydney and, um, those kinds of projects in our backyard, you know, you said it a lot. I like that term. I think some people, you know, may not want to speculate, but take space for granted, whether it’s their personal space in their home public community spaces, you know, how does that play a role with no marginalized communities? And as you said, you know, um, that feeling of dignity,
HY William Chan (14:35):
You know, we’ve seen a lot of, uh, willpower over the past few months because of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of the types of action and changes that can happen when, uh, governments and leaders decision makers want to create that change. And at the same time, on the other side, we’ve seen how communities come together, uh, potentially making sacrifices for others. Um, so that’s, um, working as a team, if you want to call it that so that we can go through a crisis together, it’s become very important, the value of our public spaces and what, what is public in our city? Um, we have a lot of people in lockdown in isolation. It’s more than ever before. It’s been so critical that we actually have that provision of high quality spaces outside of our house, um, that we can, hopefully we’ve been a five minute walk.
HY William Chan (15:39):
Um, and that’s something that doesn’t, isn’t accessible to everyone in Australia, uh, in terms of parks, uh, uh, slow lane ways where we can decompress where we can exercise, where we can get some fresh air where we can just leave our homes. And I feel the past three months has really revealed this as a big issue. Um, and a good example is how governments were very quick to, um, react and look at, uh, supporting, uh, homeless populations in our cities, uh, particularly ensuring that they, uh, there were a viral transmission, but, um, cities in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth actually took it a step further. And I ended up, um, housing them and putting them in home in hotel rooms during, um, the initial lockdown period. And it’s interesting because then there were news that came out, um, that a lot of these populations, um, ended up then moving back onto the streets.
HY William Chan (16:45):
Um, and I’m a big believer that in terms of the housing first concepts, that, uh, the only way that we can really solve homelessness in urban areas is for homeless people to be housed. Now, I, I don’t really I’m champion of the solutions that really manage homelessness and keeps people out on the streets, whether that’s a temporary short term emergency responses, um, that, that we see as, um, the main solution in our cities in Australia. The interesting thing about these people is if you were to look at them, the other side of the spectrum in terms of international arrivals, coming back to Australia, and then putting, being forced into quarantine, also in hotel rooms for two weeks, they also complained as well. They didn’t enjoy having the full walls and the roof about the heads because they didn’t have the freedoms. They didn’t have the basic rights.
HY William Chan (17:48):
We tackle problems like this just simply by, okay, here’s a problem. Let’s put them into hotel rooms. There you go. You’ve got your shelter. We’re forgetting about the dignity, um, in terms of the human dignity involved in terms of the human experience. And even if we learn in our hotel room and didn’t have that experience, even when we were locked up in our own homes and our apartments, we realize that that’s how homes are more than just the four walls that we have our homes and where we live is takes on the space outside of that. It takes on the public spaces that we can have access to and what’s walkable and what is, um, immediately within our eye in proximity to our doorstep. And we, if we can’t access good health care, education, uh, quality, um, uh, places where we can work, that’s close enough. Um, and at the same time, you know, all of these other spaces so we can connect with others. So, um, we’re not just stuck, um, inside that that’s really part of, um, how we live and I kind of feel, uh, you know, we need to address that. We need to really understand that, uh, our homes are not just our physical house. It includes a lot of that, the social, um, but also the urban design factors that, um, makes a sissy livable.
For sure. I’m sure that’s, I’m actually resonating with a lot of people William, more so now than it would would’ve last year, because the lockdown was a bit of an equalizer in terms of everyone was confined to their own spaces and getting a small glimpse into the, what it’s like to not have access to all that space. Uh, and, and those kinds of facilities and wherever you want. You know, I’m not sure if, because I’m in Melbourne, I’m not sure if these stories made their way to you if they’re in Sydney, but there’s a few examples that came to mind like, uh, I believe it was like around North Dakota in Brunswick, and you’re in a city of Melbourne where there wasn’t a lot of Parkland and wide open public spaces. People were just going into the local golf course, cause there was a golf course there, but it’s private. Um, and basically they just made it not private. And it was, you know, a great example of, well, these people, they needed somewhere that was beyond their small four walls that they could get at that fresh air that you so eloquently talked about, that you said a lot better than me, but the way that they were able to then enjoy some Parkland and it just shows how important that is.
HY William Chan (20:26):
And I think especially now during a health crisis, that our environments, our built environments web and how we, how we do planning, um, in our cities that has a big role to play in terms of our health and that those kind of outcomes beyond taking precautions, uh, you know, actually understanding that getting people outside physically active and actually, um, still being able to go on runs or for their children to play in a playground is critical in terms of not just how we socialize and not just for our mental health, but also for our physical health. And, you know, both the mental side and the physical side are elements that are suffered. Um, um, personally, even for me, you know, I’ve gained weight around my belly, um, during the lockdown because I was just sitting every day and it was just inside. And I started then, um, going for runs during my lunch break, um, just to break up the nostrils during the day.
HY William Chan (21:33):
Um, and I feel there is a bigger, uh, discussion that needs to be had in terms of how do we come out. Uh, and instead of only being quite reactive, um, actually, um, look at more holistically the strategy and what kind of lifestyles, what kind of livelihoods we want to have as a community and stop planning and start implementing those kinds of actions that are longer term in terms of how we planning our future paths. Um, future spaces as, as more as density becomes a bigger issue and people are living in, uh, in closer proximity to each other. I think it’s very important that, um, you know, these kinds of public spaces actually comes to the full and not just spaces, but what other public amenity are there that can actually support higher density, the communities and that type of living.
That’s so interesting is so many facets of that whole conversation. I think you could have a whole podcast series on it, you know what I mean? But, um, look, another thing I wanted to ask you about William, and I think this is connected, so I don’t think we’re taking too big of a leap, but, um, in terms of, uh, you know, casting your mind back to 2019, when you were a finalist in the seven years old achieve awards, the project you were working on, then, um, would you be happy to talk about that as well?
HY William Chan (23:06):
Yeah, absolutely. So I guess learning from my experiences in Australia, working with homeless population, doing a lot of research, uh, towards a new models, um, of supportive housing, as well as, um, the housing first concept. Um, and now more so in Sydney, on housing affordability in general, and you know, how cities can be equitable and accessible for all. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on my own projects, uh, looking at refugee camps and seeing the global refugee crisis as a way of bringing dignified living, um, for refugees who, uh, have been in social into their host communities in a country that they, uh, potentially didn’t even, um, choose and, or, and have the choice of, um, dealing with. So I, uh, had spent two years working in grief, uh, refugee camps on Lesbos, which is the main, uh, course of arrival into Europe, um, from the Mediterranean from Turkey where refugees would be coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, and also working in an urban context within Athens I, in two of the camps over there, uh, looking at how I could apply this experience and that kind of approach, the community orientated approach.
HY William Chan (24:43):
They had loans in informal communities and settlements into, um, people who have been displaced forcibly, uh, working within these refugee camps. Uh, it was, um, quite eyeopening in terms of understanding their stories, um, individually, how a lot of people within a couple of months had picked up English. Some of them, uh, had access Netflix and YouTube videos using the refugee camps, wifi, and learning it on their phones, which, you know, they make sense because if, especially, you know, the younger generations, um, if I was to learn something, I would also go to YouTube to learn it. And, you know, it’s no different. And a lot of kind of understand how technology is in some ways, creating a bigger division in our societies at the same time is also empowering people to have that agency to determine their own future and their own education in a very challenging and confronting environments.
HY William Chan (25:48):
And, um, I ended up basically working with young refugees and seeing kind of how, um, you know, what’s, uh, what were the biggest challenges that they were facing in terms of being in this environment. Um, and they were able to tell me that plastic waste was actually a huge issue in terms of, um, living there. And you have to remember that that’s a lot of these refugees. Um, they’re not, they’re short term, it’s not temporary, you know, a lot of coming to the refugee camp and then be placed somewhere else. It doesn’t really work like that because, um, you know, it takes years, even if we look at, um, the Australian system of how we actually, um, processed asylum seekers, you know, it can take three to five years. Um, and in other refugee camps say in other parts of the world, including in Africa, know, generations grow up.
HY William Chan (26:45):
And I ended up working alongside a young refugee, um, basically my age who was born into a refugee camp and still lives in that refugee camp ended up spending 30, 40 years, you know, lifetimes, um, in these places. And that also, you know, made me think about how can we actually rethink these kind of, uh, environments, um, they sites, these shelters housing, um, and instead of seeing them as temporary, uh, places for people to move in and out actually seeing, well, could they be more permanent? Um, you know, where my research looking at, um, homeless, uh, populations, it’s so important that they actually have a stable environment, so they can actually start, um, uh, that space to physical space, but the mental space as well to start, um, looking at, uh, what areas that they can actually explore and actually what opportunities so that they can reach their own potentials.
HY William Chan (27:53):
And, you know, I feel the same can be applied to, uh, refugee communities in terms of seeing how they can be more embedded into their host communities. But, but even to take that further, to see whether or not these places could be hubs of innovation, where young people came actually continue to learn, be educated, but at the same time, start scanning those skills, which are critical for their future, these future skills in problem solving, critical thinking creativity. I also was interested to know what other architects were doing. Local Greek architects were doing to support refugees during the crisis. And I found that they were actually creating a maker spaces and fab labs, uh, and so on Lesbos, Ashley had one of the refugee shelters and they had computers and 3d printers, laser cutters, so that, uh, the young refugees could actually learn how to design and 3d prints useful and meaningful items for themselves.
HY William Chan (29:06):
Uh, so I saw the opportunity ended up actually working with, um, the young refugees to develop a STEM curriculum where plastic waste, um, could be collected, um, from the camps. And they would learn about the environments and about, um, different resources and that kind of value and using an open source, uh, machine that would then heat the little bits of, um, the plastic bottle that had been cut up, um, would heat it up and then actually extrude that material into the fraidy printing filaments that would then be added to a fraidy printer in these exist, existing programs,
Kind of addressing that plastic issue. You’re talking about turning that into learning and
HY William Chan (29:56):
Absolutely that’s awesome. So it was really about kind of seeing how I could mimic and, you know, I, it wasn’t really about reinventing the wheel. You know, there were all these fantastic local Greek professionals who were playing a very key role to wards, um, the, that technology and the education. And for me, it was just seeing, um, that there was a problem with the plastic waste and seeing how we can actually start, um, in terms of a circular economy, start tackling pollution and waste in our environments. But at the same time teaching, um, the young refugees of that value of the skills that they had learned, but why this process is important. I ended up actually during the workshop, show them the plastic bottle that we’ve picked up together, um, and then showed them the pieces that had been cut up of that plastic bottle and asked, you know, what is the value of these things, you know, well, their waste, they would say, um, and then show them the 3d filaments that we’ve extruded and say, well, what about this?
HY William Chan (31:06):
Is there a value to this? Could we actually sell this up until they’ve actually designed, say their own locks for their doors to their shelters using that material? And then, you know, when I hold up the lock or whatever product it is, and like, what about this value? Not just in terms of the economic value of the actual object that they 3d printed, but what about also the educational value and the skills that they’ve learned that they have agency to solve their own problems, um, using the tools that’s provided. And I think, you know, you provide dignity by not telling people that this is the way you should be doing things, bachelor, lesson them to solve and work it out themselves in a way where they can feel like that they have ownership and that they are able to use open source tools and technologies that can deliver on that ownership and flexibility.
Well know, that’s an incredible story. There’s just such an amazing and beautiful learning from that in terms of problem solving and how so often we’re thinking this problem, we’ve got, we need to invent a way to solve it, but what you’ve outlined there is such a lovely way of thinking about it. There’s solutions out there, there’s people doing great work and it’s back connecting the dots, not reinventing the wheel, as you said to solve a problem. And there’s just so many lovely outcomes from that. So thank you for sharing that story is so much, and I also feel
HY William Chan (32:42):
A lot of these, uh, potential solutions to, I guess, what I call we could problems, really difficult problems that potentially could take a long time. Um, they do require an understanding, um, that has to be collaborative. It has to be working with the people as partners, as collaborators, and at the same time, that’s, you know, these solutions have to be challenging the status quo, but also challenging silos that have to be interdisciplinary this project. Isn’t just about the refugee crisis. It’s actually also solving an environmental problem of single use plastics, right? It’s also teaching future skills in terms of technologies and how, uh, these technologies are going to give them the soft skills that hopefully will allow them to thrive. Um, in the next journey, whether they end up going to school to university, um, working and having a job, these skills are gonna be helpful for them.
HY William Chan (33:52):
Um, and then obviously there’s, uh, the component in terms of just, uh, you know, being young people and ensuring that they’re having fun at the same time that they actually learning by doing and being able to see that entire process and be able to design their own objects, uh, physically, um, you know, I think one of the best skills, uh, that I’ve learned to be more appreciative because of my background is in architecture. What we do is the physical is tangible our buildings, our environments, you can touch them and that construction. And if we were to apply that to other situations in terms of the types of solutions, um, for me, it has to be grounded in terms of it being physical and having a real world impact, um, rather than just being ideas rather than it just being thoughts, leadership, I’m all for it, just being a concept or for, um, being, uh, left in a report.
I can imagine people want to know more about, it’s just, that’s just so multifaceted. Is this what your TEDx talk was essentially about?
HY William Chan (35:09):
I was invited to present a TEDx talk, um, it’s part of TEDx Sydney in the youth section, and it was an incredible opportunity. And at the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I was even prepared to really share the work because it was, it’s still in a very infant stage in terms of developing the program and working with the right partners. But that talk actually was really about just sharing the concepts around a children’s rights and empowerment and the potential of these young refugees and really telling that story to an Australian audience because of during that period, you know, it was challenging to kind of see what was going on with the refugee crisis, from an Australian response. They experiencing Europe also changed my understanding of, I guess, our generation and how we respond to crises. I miss. And I think we’ve seen again how we’re tackling and trying to address the climate crisis. And now even with the pandemic, um, the health crisis, um, what sort of innovative thinking that, uh, young people are able to, um, engage and be able to distill and empower, um, within their own communities?
Yeah, for sure. I think that you’re right, that we have seen that the younger generations have, no, I don’t think they would have been labeled. We would have been, have not been labeled resilient previously. I don’t think, but I think this has shown that we are resilient. And as you said, innovative and using innovation as a way to, to show resilience and come up with new solutions and, and get through this tough time. So in terms of the TEDx talk, just before I forget, if someone wants to view that what’s the best way they can just Google your name and TEDx. Yeah.
HY William Chan (37:07):
If I can just, uh, the talks on ted.com. So, uh, if you’re already subscribed to listening to Ted talks as, uh, on your podcasts, uh,
Yeah, great. Really? Yeah. I’ve loved this chat. Um, you know, I thought that I was fairly informed or knowledgeable about, you know, refugees, that issues that they face, but you’ve just opened my eyes up to new ways of looking at, you know, it’s such a big issue, but I think sometimes in Australia we are a little bit misinformed or misguided in a way about our views on refugees and migrants. And sometimes I think we need to look at it as how much of an asset it can be to our country and our life to have people coming in with different experiences, different skills. Yeah. Keeping that as a temporary thing and forced, you know, that’s a good word to describe it that if that, if that has to happen, why can’t we look at it differently? Up-skill give knowledge, empower people, give dignity, and it would just be a better outcome for everyone.
HY William Chan (38:12):
It’s interesting through my Ted talk, I did have, um, critics actually comment and say, you know, why, why are we trying to make refugee camps, uh, permanent? Shouldn’t we just close some down, I guess. Sure. Like if we were to have this quiet, idealistic view of all these problems that we have in the world, you know, why don’t we just stop stop it, but it is so much more complex than that. And for us to actually kind of, I guess, in terms of informal settlements, you could also go, why don’t we just provide housing for everyone? Like, like how the city of Johannesburg started. And it’s not really, these aren’t really solutions because these are very top down views in terms of the problems and not really working directly with the communities. Um, and recognizing that, um, you know, there is potential, you know, these, you know, these types of solutions, aren’t short term, I’m not saying are, um, you know, we can help improve your camp, um, temporarily and make, make your, your, your livelihoods and your living areas better. But it’s actually changing how we view refugees is not as, um, not as people who are, you know, who need handouts, really who need aid and, um, need humanitarian supplies, but actually see they’re continuing with their lives. You know, they’re going to school. Some of the refugees are finding work, you know, in Greece, uh, they are allowed able to access employment opportunities that, you know, we shouldn’t see just because they live in a certain area or they’re called refugees.
Yeah, man, it’s, uh, it is really interesting stuff. And I just hope that some people listening yeah. Get a lot out of this kind of chat with Pat. I’ve certainly got a lot out of it. So thanks for making the time this morning, William, you know, we’ve plugged the TEDx talk. If anyone wants to connect with you in another way, do you, um, get, what would you, how would you say they can do that?
HY William Chan (40:21):
Uh, yeah, you can, um, I’m quite active on Twitter, so feel free to find me over there. And my handle is at H Y William Chan.
Yeah. Very easy to find. That’s just your name. That’s lovely. So yeah. Thank you. Um, and fandom listening, we’ll put that link to the TEDx talk and to your Twitter handle in the show notes as well. So yeah, we’ll look forward to following, uh, onto your progress, your journey and your story will then, because there’s going to be so many interesting things to come. I can tell, thank you so much, Josh. No worries.
I hope you enjoyed our interview. Join us each week, as we talk with ordinary Australians achieving extraordinary things. If you know someone that’s making a difference you can contact us through our Instagram page, inspirational.australians or head to our website www.awardsaustralia.com and you can nominate them, help spread their story, share their message. Awards Australia is a family owned Australian business, our awesome producer Annette is my mom and other podcast co-host Geoff is my dad. We proudly aim to make a difference in the lives of Australians. And we thank our corporate and not for profit partners for making our awards programs possible. Would your business like to know how to get involved, contact us now. Please subscribe to our podcast, so you won’t miss an episode. And please share this episode with your network and pay it forward. Who doesn’t like to hear a positive, good news story, but also greatly appreciate that if you review and write this series as well, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Until next week, stay safe and remember together, we make a difference.
Thanks for joining us today on the inspiration Australians podcast, we hope you enjoyed listening and have been inspired by ordinary Australians, achieving extraordinary things. So it’s goodbye for another week. Remember together, we make a difference.