You can’t unsay a cruel word – this has been a catchphrase in Cameron Daddo’s family for years, and now he is helping spread the message to a wider audience.
The TV star and smoothFM presenter is a huge believer in the power of words, one of the reasons he lent his voice to a new podcast designed to teach children respectful behaviour.
Created by NOVA Entertainment in partnership with the Australian government’s Stop it at the Start campaign, Project Ari is a fictional storytelling podcast series designed as a tool for parents and caregivers.
The podcast follows the story of an Artificial Intelligence prototype presenting as a 10-year-old boy named ARI (played by River Mardesic) placed into an everyday family who are tasked with teaching ARI human experiences beyond what he can learn from Google.
Daddo, who plays ARI’s creator Professor Hixon, says the podcast brings awareness to the power of words and tone in which we say things in a lighthearted and fun way.
“It brings attention to bullying or someone who is saying hurtful things and makes them aware, allowing them to learn the art of apology, something we could all do with more practise in,” says Daddo.
“There is a huge importance in words, and words carry a great deal of power. I think a lot of us are quite naive to how much power words have and how they can stay with you. You cannot unsay a cruel word. That has been a catchphrase in our family for many years.”
While his children – Lotus, 25, River, 21, and Bodhi, 14 – with wife Alison Brahe – are past the target audience for this podcast, Daddo says its format hits the mark for primary school children.
“I’m a huge fan of stories and listening to stories, I learn a lot through storytelling and I know my kids do also,” he says.
“This is a really entertaining form of storytelling. The child actors are really terrific and it’s delightful to listen to.”
Daddo says being part of Project Ari works in symmetry with his existing charity My Men’s Team, which is all about helping men open up and share.
Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston says the podcast is part of the third phase of the Stop it at the Start campaign.
The campaign’s goal is to reduce violence against women and children by encouraging adults to reflect on their attitudes while also having conversations about respect with young people.
“The campaign has been going for about five years now and we’re in the third phase, which is focused on giving people tools and confidence to call out disrespectful behaviour,” Ruston says.
“We wanted to make sure we had another tool in our toolkit that enables us to focus particularly on primary school-aged children, so they understand what disrespectful behaviour is and what can be hurtful.
“All disrespectful behaviour doesn’t end in violence but one thing we’re absolutely sure of is all violence starts with disrespectful behaviour.”