Australian Edmund Rice Students Gather for Advocacy

On May 17th Edmund Rice Services – Mt. Atkinson, an Edmund Rice ministry near Melbourne, Australia, hosted its first Student Advocates Gathering at the Mt Atkinson ministry site. There was a real buzz amongst the student cohort, which was comprised students from Parade College Bundoora, St. Joseph’s College Geelong, St. Bernard’s College Essendon, CBC St Kilda and St. Kevin’s College, Toorak. It was inspiring to hear the young people connect over mutual passions and ideologies in regards to climate justice and human rights. We were also fortunate to be joined by Br Gerard Brady and Br Trevor Gibbons who were very happy to meet staff and students and participate in the event.

We commenced the day with a video hook-up in to Brisbane and called into Phil Glendenning’s presentation on Climate Action to a gathering of students from Edmund Rice schools in the Brisbane area at Nudgee College. The Melbourne students had the opportunity to directly ask Phil questions and participate in discussion. It was wonderful to provide the students with an opportunity to connect in with “something bigger” than here. An activity was then simultaneously rolled out in Brisbane and Melbourne. All students participated in brainstorming a list of potential strategies to advocate for climate justice. They then used their voices to vote on two strategies that plan be rolled out across all Edmund Rice schools in Australia.

After lunch together around the camp fire, I delivered a presentation on Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). All 5 schools were encouraged to go back to their respective schools with question prompts to think locally about violations of human rights and social justice issues which could be reported on via a submission for Australia’s UPR next year with the support and guidance from Br Jim D’Arcy who will co-ordinate the drafting of the submission.

We hope to continue gathering as a group! A huge thank you to Mark Ellison and his team for organising our video link in to Nudgee and to Br. Jim D’Arcy for taking the time to chat through plans over the phone. Looking forward to what comes next!

Laura Di Pasquale

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