By Luke Fadel (Year 10)
On the 20th and 21st September, six Year 10 boys including myself got the opportunity to attend a Social Justice conference for young people at Christian Brothers’ College Lewisham.
Fifteen schools from all over Australia gathered at the event which was run by the Josephite nuns. We were very privileged to attend the event with Ms. Cullen, who has a firing passion for standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
On arrival, we were greeted by a smoking ceremony ritual performed by the Aboriginal students at Lewisham, who also welcomed us to country with a very moving dance ritual. Throughout the two days, we were challenged by various guest speakers who work in the area of Human Rights, to stand up against injustice. We were warned that this is no easy task – one that often requires us to swim against the tide of popular opinion and strong political forces – but we were urged never to give up.
Throughout the first day, we listened to presenters including – Phil Glendenning, President of the Refugee Council and Director of the Edmund Rice Centre, and journalist and social commentator, Ms Van Badham. We also heard from inspiring young people who are doing their bit to challenge the injustices in this world, one of these students was an Old Boy of Waverley College. We had many opportunities to converse with some of the other students from all across Australia, who all had moving stories and one thing in common: A drive to one day change the world! The first day presented several opportunities to attend workshops on social justice issues affecting our world today including, justice for the earth and the environment, for people seeking asylum, the first nations people and homeless people.
We began the second day of the conference with a presentation by CaSPA (Catholic Schools Performing Arts Sydney) They encouraged us to use our voice for change. We were lucky enough to meet current Greens, Labour and Liberal politicians – Jenny Leong MP, Jihad Dib MP and Jonathan O’Dea MP who shared their thoughts on how government policies affect nationwide social inequity. We also watched a theatre sports performance from the St Aloysius boys, who role-played how to be lobbyists for social change.
Overall this experience was an eye-opener with all of the boys taking a lot away from the conference. We also had a few laughs along the way with Ms Cullen.