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National Women's Council SA - Speech Presented by College Social Justice Captains

13.08.18

Social Justice is defined as ‘justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society’. However, to myself and Emily it means much more. In accordance with our Catholic faith, we define the term as respect, dignity and thoughtfulness for all, and believe that one’s right to justice should not be debated or withheld by any one person or thing.

At the College, social justice is most often seen in the way of fundraising but we understand that social justice is not just about raising the most money. It is about being aware of the mundane gifts in our lives and having a desire to ensure that people across the world can also have access to these gifts. Moreover, our role is a lot more than just assisting in fundraising or social justice initiatives. It is about inspiring and motivating students to want to make a change in their communities. It is also about turning the words we preach into actions, just as our patron saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop did. As leaders, we make every effort to ensure that every single person in our school community feels valued, included and supported.

Our role as Social Justice Captains comes with great privilege and responsibility, and is extremely rewarding. We continuously encourage students to get involved and take a leading role in the area of social justice. In particular, we strive to make notice of prevalent issues that are close to our hearts such as girl’s education, homelessness, domestic violence and refugees.

This year, we have made it our goal to draw our school community’s attention to topics such as preserving and protecting our environment, supporting underprivileged communities through the Project Compassion Campaign and, of course, raising awareness for refugees and the adversities they face.

At Mary MacKillop College, we are extremely proud of the diverse and multicultural community we have. We recognise and acknowledge the refugee girls that we have attending our school, and want to do our best to try and break the stereotypes surrounding refugees. It is College tradition that each year Refugee Week is respected and our fellow peers' stories and struggles are supported and heard. In past years, we have listened to students share their migration stories, and collected stationary supplies, put them in backpacks and donated them to refugee families that recently migrated and could not afford school supplies for their children.

This year, we decided to change our tradition. Instead, we decided to raise awareness of the struggle that refugees face in a more modern way, to better suit our fast-paced school environment. In lieu of this, some of the College’s junior students got in touch with their peers who have recently migrated to Australia and asked them to share their stories.

Whilst thinking about what I wanted the legacy of my leadership to be, I stumbled upon a short poem written by Rupi Kaur. In her poem she says, “I stand on the sacrifices of a million women… thinking, what can I do to make this mountain taller so that the women after me can see farther?” Reading her words, I instantly knew how important it was to me to make sure that the work Emily and I have done this year inspires and encourages our successors to do the same and more. We hope to pass on to our peers that everything they want to know, do, be or achieve is one step outside of their comfort zone. To not be afraid to jump into new challenges, or experiences is how you grow and develop into being a confident, inspirational and resilient leader.

To conclude, we would like to share with you the words once spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression...”

 

Hannah & Emily
Social Justice Captains