Six students passionate about Social Justice at the College put up their hands to attend the most recent Seeds of Justice Conference at Holy Cross Centre in Templestowe. We were joined by students and staff from other Mercy Schools from around Victoria, including schools as far away as Mildura, Kyneton and the Mornington Peninsula.

The excellent conference was facilitated by Sam Weir, Director of Faith and Mission at Sacred Heart College, Kyneton (and a previous Social Justice Coordinator at OLMC). The theme of the conference was ‘Breaking Chains’ – learning about human trafficking and modern slavery. The keynote speaker was Bernard Dobson from the Australian Catholic Religious Against the Trafficking of Humans (ACRATH). Bernard enlightened the students on the importance of purchasing fair trade and gave examples of where modern slavery exists around the world and in our own city and country.

Students wrote pledges at the conclusion of the conference. Here is one such pledge:

We pledge to take the first steps in implementing change within the community.

We pledge to use our voice, even if it shakes, to hopefully one day tip the scales and change the reality of many!

Below are some moving reflections from our students:

Being able to attend the 2024 Seeds of Justice Conference along with five other Year 10s from OLMC and over 50 other students from Mercy Schools across Victoria was a fulfilling experience. We spent our time gaining exposure to the confronting topic of human trafficking and got to learn from guest speakers from a few different organisations. By participating in this conference, I made new friends, created memories, gained everlasting learnings and acquired many new skills.

Indigo M (10CTKI)

We came to talk about human trafficking, forced marriage and slavery, which happens in our own country. We had two speakers talk to us about how quickly someone's life can change and what we can do to stop trafficking in Australia. We heard real stories of young girls at the age of seven being forced to marry a 30 year old and another where a young girl told police about her situation at home and by the next morning she had been taken to the other side of the country and was untraceable. We got to meet other people from other schools and work with them to see what they are going to implement at their school to spread awareness. We also got to reflect on the ways we can become like the Poet (Catherine McAuley) and the Punk (Ursula Frayne) in helping those without a voice in our communities. On reflection, we thought of the chains we wanted to break and the chains of Mercy we wanted to form, as well as focusing on looking after ourselves.

Lily A (10CCTR)

During the Seeds of Justice conference, six Year 10 students had the opportunity to work together with other schools to talk about the joint goal of removing human trafficking, slavery and forced marriage from our communities. We were told to seek change and speak out until we are heard and change is made. By this, the change in question would be to offer all people experiencing trafficking, slavery and forced marriage a way out. We heard stories from various speakers of people who have unfortunately experienced these things, and made action plans to implement our new learnings into our school communities. We had a great time having the opportunity to learn and discover new things that may not always be told to us regularly, and thank all the teachers involved in making the conference happen.

Victoria B (10CCTR)

The Seeds of Justice conference focused on the global crisis of human trafficking. This two-day event created an opportunity not only for education but for networking and connecting with like-minded students from within our Mercy community. During the event, two guest speakers from ACRATH educated us on what human trafficking is and the various forms that it takes, while also speaking about their efforts to combat the issue. These presentations inspired many of us to change by making more conscious and ethical decisions on the products and brands that we support. This experience motivated us to embrace and embody the Mercy values in our efforts to make a difference.

Aprila D (10AJIN)

To read more about the great work of ACRATH, please visit : ACRATH

Lauren Marguet
Social Justice Coordinator