What a speech! Celebrated actress and Play School legend Noni Hazlehurst ruled the Logies last night with a powerful, inspiring speech to mark her Hall Of Fame induction.
Ridiculously she’s only the second woman ever to be inducted, and she put the occasion to excellent use in a passionate address that covered everything from her career to parenting to Play School’s young audience and the need to protect them from the media’s negative world view.
With the event falling on Mother’s Day, she also reflected on the traits of good parenting. Here’s some of our favourite parts of her exceptional speech.
On the role of parents:
“The ideal mother and father is someone who nurtures and protects us, someone who tells us stories to help us make sense of the world, who gives us non-judgemental acceptance and unconditional love, who teaches us that we’re not special but we are unique, who encourages our empathetic instincts and teaches us the responsibility we have to each other. This is what we long for from our parents and to be as parents.”
On appealing to the Play School audience:
“I learnt the tenets of the Play School philosophy, formed by a most rare and wonderful respect, love and understanding of its target audience: a single pre-school child… I realised this child was far more demanding than any audience of adults. Three- to four-year-olds have the best bullshit detectors, don’t they? They don’t just watch you because you’re there, they want connection and they want real engagement… If they sense you’re not really talking to them, an ant crawling up the wall will quickly take their attention.
On how pure (and impressionable) young kids are:
"For many decades, Play School’s been an icon, an oasis and a safehaven in an increasingly complex media landscape and world… I started to see the world through a pre-schooler’s eyes to see how free and unafraid they are to just be - they haven’t yet been conditioned - but also how easily frightened and overwhelmed they are, how easily abused, and particularly how empathetic they are. No child is born a bigot.”
On the changing media world and its negative effects:
“The TV landscape when I started Play School in 1978 is very different: four channels, no 24/7 news, no 24/7 anything. It was much easier to protect children from images and information that they couldn’t assimilate. With the explosion of technology and the proliferation of screens, we can’t escape the exposure to bad news and violent images. They’re everywhere, at the dentist, on buses. And most of us, not just kids, find the bombardment overwhelming.
“I suspect that almost none of us here or watching is immune from the growing incidents of depression, anxiety and suicide. We all know people who are struggling, we may be ourselves, and too many of our kids are. We are all living under a heavy and constant cloud of negativity. We are divided against each other and our fellow human beings, we find it hard to trust, and we are fearful of the future. I think it’s because we are surrounded by bad news and examples of our basest human behaviour. I fear that our hearts are growing cold.”
On campaigning for a ‘more positive’ TV channel and media coverage:
“Here’s my pitch: I’d love a channel that features nothing but stories that inspire us and reassure us and our children that there are good things happening and good things in the world. I know it’s a lot to ask for, but at the very least a show that tries to address this overwhelming imbalance that counters bad news with good. That encourages optimism, not pessimism. That restores our empathy our love for our fellow human beings and the earth. That redefines reality. That heals our hearts. And, by the way, I’m available.”
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