In 2018 over 100 children were trapped in a prison-like camp.
The Australian Government’s policy of indefinite detention led to approximately 650 refugees to be held on the tiny island of Nauru for five years, creating a dire medical crisis. Children were diagnosed with resignation syndrome (a dissociative syndrome that induces a catatonic state), self-harming and begging to die.
Research showed that very few Australians knew kids were being detained. World Vision sought to bring the issue to light, pushing for political change to move refugees from Nauru before it was too late.
We developed a narrative we knew nobody could argue with: while the refugee crisis is complex, locking up children is never the answer.
This campaign and brand strategy demanded finesse and careful consideration to feel approachable to leaders and campaigners across the breadth of the Australian political spectrum. It needed to communicate the gravity of the situation, be inspiring, and easy for the thousands of staff, campaigners and members of the general public to use and scale as the campaign built momentum.
As a primarily social campaign, we took inspiration from the hashtag #kidsoffnauru that we knew would be ever-present throughout the life of the campaign, and transformed it into an abstract representation of the children, centring them in all the campaign communications.
Anyone from graphic design professionals to community groups could create outstanding graphics quickly and easily, allowing the campaign to spread organically and powerfully as a unified movement of support. This methodology was openly shared with World Vision so they can take this approach and apply it to future humanitarian crises they might respond to.
Launching in August 2018, our campaign brand coordinated voices across Australia, providing messaging to major charities and influencers like Sam Neill and Hugh Jackman, earning global media attention.
By finding common ground in a very politically divisive landscape, we were able to inspire the Australian public to unite and put an end to the indefinite detention of children who came to Australia seeking asylum, but instead found prison-like conditions.
This was a significant and inspiring human rights victory for the people of Australia, but most importantly for the children who were relocated from Nauru.
Inspiring the majority of the Australian public was made possible by creating an open brand so that other organisations could join the campaign and create a unified and truthful moment. It illustrated that change can happen, even when it seems like it’s unlikely to change the decisions of government.
By October a YouGov Galaxy poll showed 80% of Australians wanted #kidsoffnauru. By November, 102 of 119 kids were relocated—and the government has since moved all kids and their families to safety.
Facing an intractable 5-year old problem, World Vision and #kidsoffnauru won an inspiring human rights victory in six months.