The St Vincent de Paul society are the social justice arm of the Catholic Church in most places in Australia. They work for the needy out of faith in the person and mission of Jesus. The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia has more than 60,000 members and volunteers, who work hard to assist people in need and combat social injustice across Australia. Internationally, the Society operates in 153 countries and has over 800,000 members. This year and every year Damascus College works to support both the Winter and Christmas Appeals of the society. Our work puts resources directly on the ground in Ballarat. Our work is part of our call To Live by the Light of Christ.
The Social Justice Statement for 2018–19 prepared by the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Social Justice Commission (ACSJC) is entitled A PLACE TO CALL HOME: MAKING A HOME FOR EVERYONE IN OUR LAND. The Statement reflects the deep concern of Australia’s Bishops at the growing problem of homelessness and insecure housing in Australian society. All over our nation, a ruthless housing market leaves people struggling to find secure and affordable housing, whether they live in cities or in regional areas. That struggle has a corrosive effect on family life, on employment, on study and on our capacity to contribute to and benefit from our society. At its worst, the struggle leaves the vulnerable in our society homeless – sleeping on the street, in cars or in doorways, or hoping for a space on someone’s couch or floor. The last Census showed the number of homeless Australians had increased to more than 116,000 people.
The College raised $3566.35 for the local St Vincent de Paul Winter Appeal late last term. This will be used to purchase backpack beds. These swags are not a solution but they can be an important stepping stone to keep someone protected until a more permanent situation can be found. Congratulations to all who made a contribution.
Mr. Tony Haintz - Assistant Principal Catholic School Culture
It Matters What You Do
This term Year 8 students are studying the text The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Set during World War 2, the novel explores the friendship between a young German boy, Bruno and a Jewish boy, Shmuel. In order to develop a greater appreciation of this confronting chapter of human history students attended the Jewish Holocaust museum in Melbourne. Part of the tour of the museum involved hearing the story of Henry a Jewish survivor who was a 9 year old child growing up in Germany during the Hitler regime. Henry, who admitted he is still traumatised by his past, spoke not so much of human atrocities during this period but rather of the acts of human courage that he was witness to. Indeed it was these acts of courage that enabled Henry and his family to survive. Henry spoke of acts of human kindness and bravery that enabled ‘lights of hope to flicker throughout a period of darkness’ ultimately enabling humanity to overcome extreme evil. For Henry it was a group of brave individuals who smuggled his family out of Germany into the Black Forest, an isolated area just beyond the Belgium border. It was here that a number of other individuals protected Henry and his family until the end of the war. Some 15 years later the family migrated to Australia where they have lived a peaceful and happy life.
In discussing Henry’s story with a group of students they were able to put such acts of humanity within the context of their own lives. They spoke of the opportunity to speak up and act when they see something that is unjust. That doing this may mean experiencing rebuke from others. It may require them to stand alone. Henry’s message was summarised towards the end of his presentation when he remarked that ‘it really does matter what you do’.
While not wanting to use Henry’s story to promote the need for students to speak up it is a reminder that in addressing our lives it is often too easy to turn away from those who need it. Whether it be engaging with a student who is isolated, helping another who is lost or seeking out others to offer support, the wellbeing of students can be impacted by ‘what you do’.
I look forward to working with my students in exploring the triumph of the human spirit over evil as echoed through Henry’s story.
'Tour Guide Leesa explaining the story of a Jewish survivor'
Mr. Andy Robertson - Assistant Principal Student Wellbeing