Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist



Esther Tonkinwise

Year 8, MLC Burwood

For the past three years, my sister and I have been cultivating our love for the movie Freaky Friday (2003). The fact that it is not a very good film does not bother us. We love everything about it - the characters, the plot line, the actors and even the stunts - and know it intimately. We can recite the script by heart and re-enact scenes in detail.

The last time we watched the film, a certain scene caught my attention. Let me depict it.

Anna Coleman, the daughter, finds her brother reading her diary. She instantly chases him out of her room and as a reflex she reaches to slam her door. Her high-pitched screams can be heard from downstairs as she processes that her door has been removed. Anna rushes to her mother, who waits at the dining room table. She has removed Anna's bedroom door as a punishment, after finding out she has been sent to detention twice. “Privacy is a privilege, Anna.” The punishment is harsh, and Anna doesn't take it well. “I need my door! You give me that door or... or... I will kill myself.”

This is a silly scene, but it did make me think about the importance of doors. A wall is what blocks people out and creates a box, but a door is an opening. Doors have the capacity to change the feeling of a space. Closing them, deliberately shuts things out and isolates a space. Opening them, suggests a welcoming space.

When you are asleep, you are vulnerable. This is why some people like to sleep with their door closed, they feel safe in their own box. Adolescents often like to close doors because it helps define their own personal space, one in which they can feel secure and in control. Adolescents like to retreat to their rooms and close their doors to listen to music, chat to friends, binge watch a show or watch YouTube out loud. The internet has changed what it means to be in a room with a closed door. The physical door may be closed but technology creates a metaphorical open door, which allows them to re-connect with the world. While they close their door for privacy they scroll through social media, reconnecting with the world by chatting with people and looking at what people are doing.

Walls not only surround rooms in houses, but whole nations as well. But not all walls have doors, for example, the Berlin wall. Having no doors, the wall itself was pulled down in 1989.

Now, such walls are being planned and built again. For example, Trump's plan for a wall between Mexico and the United States, or the metaphorical wall that Brexit will re-establish between the United Kingdom and Europe. Australia is an island so the sea acts like a wall. We patrol the stretch of sea to the north to 'stop the boats' from entering our country.

But in these walls, or borders, between countries, where are the doors? A door should be openable. A door, even though closed, shows that you can come in, but implies that you need to knock first.

If we are building borders to separate nations, where are the doors? Borders have openings, such as ports and airports. But what is the equivalent of 'knocking on the door' for a border wall? How can people request access?

Doors matter. They allow privacy and differentiate spaces. But a closed door creates just another wall. My door matters to me, but even when I sleep, I like to leave my door a little bit open.