In their speeches as joint recipients of the Australian of the Year, Dr Richard Harris and Dr Craig Challen (the cave divers involved in the rescue of the Thai soccer team), directed their messages to Australian parents. We looked a little last week at what Dr Harris had to say about encouraging children to be explorers.

Dr Craig Challen encouraged us all to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself  and spoke about the greatest opportunity he had – growing up in Australia and. He talked of the temptation we all face of taking the “easy route”, thinking that, “life would be better if we mould it to make it as comfortable as possible”. (As parents, how often do we want to make life comfortable for our children?)  He went on to warn of some serious risks in doing that, in particular some of the opportunities we might miss. We might miss “a chance to lend a hand and help others,” or risk “never knowing our own strength and what we’re capable of,” when tested. When confronted by adversity, we risk crumbling into a heap and giving up instead of standing up.

He went on to suggest that the only way a person can be ready to face life-defining events, is by accepting personal responsibility “for our actions and their consequences and to confront the small challenges that appear every day”. As parents, we can model this behavior to our children as well as encouraging them to confront the small challenges they face on a daily basis. We don’t have to try and fix everything up for them. They’re never too young to learn to accept personal responsibility and experience the consequences of their actions.

He concluded by saying, “..I urge all Australians to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself and in every decision you make ask yourself, ‘Does this help me to be the best person that I can be?’”  What a great challenge for both adults and our children!

Jenny Billingham

(If you have a topic that you’d like more information about and think might interest other parents, please don’t hesitate to email me with suggestions at  Thanks.)