Young leaders in action

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22 September 2017Student Social Justice Leaders' Day

On 29 May teachers and student leaders from over twenty Catholic schools gathered at the Fitzroy Campus of Australian Catholic University for Student Social Justice Leaders' (SSJL) Day.

The annual event is run by Justice Education in Catholic Schools; a sub-group of the Office for Justice and Peace. It comprises staff from the Office for Justice and Peace, Catholic Education Melbourne, and Catholic schools and justice organisations.

Together with Youth Justice Chaplain, Sr Rachel Fleurant MGL, our Community Engagement Coordinator, Jeff Wild, spoke about intergenerational disadvantage and its links to the lives of teenagers in youth custody.

His presentation, ‘Create a new future’ asked students to consider how their image of the future has an impact on the decisions they make today. He said,  

A young person whose family has broken up, who may have faced violence, or has been failing at school, may find it difficult to imagine a positive future’ and ‘This can far more easily lead to self-destructive behavior

The theme for the day was ‘Love thy Neighbour’ and as Jeff explained, ‘Part of ‘loving thy neighbour' - even the neighbour who is in prison - is to value them enough to imagine a better future for them, and to work with them for that future’.

Every year during SSJL Day, Catholic school students share their ideas and commitment to strengthening social inclusion, and it's a privilege for staff like Jeff and Rachel to speak with such bright and compassionate young people.

‘I hope there will be more opportunities like today to engage the next generation in working together to help all people in our community to live life to the full,’ said Jeff.

This article was originally published in the CatholicCare newsletter Connected.