Social Justice Day – 2014

Approximately 350 students from 40 Catholic Secondary Colleges across Sydney gathered at Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Burwood on the 12th November to participate in the annual Archdiocesan Social Justice Day. Students and staff reflected on the 2014-15 Social Justice Statement: ‘A Crown for Australia. Striving for the best in our sporting nation’. Bishop Christopher Saunders, Bishop of Broome and Chairman of the Australian Social Justice Council led the first session of the day. Bishop Saunders gave those present an insight into this statement which is the only Pastoral Letter to the Australian public that is published annually.In the introduction to the statement Bishop Saunders states that Australians are passionate about their sport as it brings us together, builds communities and lets us celebrate together. Sport can reflect the very best in each of us but it can also reflect the worst in us. This statement asks each of us to ask how we can help build the Kingdom of God through our sporting experiences whether we are playing or cheering from the sidelines.
The guest presenter was Louise Winchester, teacher of PDHPE and Year 7 Coordinator at Marist College Penshurst. Louise engaged the whole audience with a very moving speech that highlighted the joys and challenges in her sporting career, particularly as Australia’s Sports Captain for the Women’s Touch Footy Team. An underlying theme that was captured within her speech included the three Fs- Family, Friends and Faith. Louise shared her story within the context of the social justice statement identifying some of the issues that she has personally faced within sport such as gender inequality and the perception of women in sport.
Another key feature of the day, was the presentation of awards for the ‘Youth Forum videos’. In Term 2 this year, the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Office, Dr Dan White, travelled to each of the three regional offices to lead the 2014 Youth Forums. These forums focused on the significant issue of Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
At the conclusion of each Youth Forum, students were issued a challenge by Dr White, to compose a short video that highlighted a particular aspect of their learnings from the youth forum. Louise Zavone, the Education Officer for Secondary Religious Education, presented the winning schools with a plaque, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to this very worthy cause. In third place was St John Bosco College, Engadine. In second place was Clancy Catholic College and the winner of the 2014 Youth Forum Video Challenge was Aquinas Catholic College, Menai.
Following the first session of the day which included powerful dramatizations performed by Holy Spirit College Lakemba and All Saints Girls College Liverpool, each of the following agencies presented two workshop sessions:

• Aboriginal Catholic Ministry,
• Australian Refugee Council,
• Catholic Mission,
• Columban Mission Institute,
• House of Welcome,
• Mary MacKillop Outreach
• St Vincent de Paul,
• SVDP Spark program
• World Vision Australia.

Students were given the opportunity to attend two of the workshops. They were also given time to reflect upon their experiences and reported back to the entire group during the final session of the day, about how their experience could benefit their school communities. Casimir Catholic College highlighted some of the issues raised during the workshops in their World Cup performance.

The Social Justice Day, an initiative of the Religious Education and Evangelisation Team from the Catholic Education Office, is always a great opportunity for all schools to come together, to listen, to discuss, to sing, to pray and consider practical ways that we can make a difference in the world and truly ‘do something’ that helps to bring about justice and change in a real and tangible way.

Louise Zavone
(Education Officer: Religious Education Secondary)

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