The 39 students represented four different schools – Billanook College, Wesley College, Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) and Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (PEGS).
The Inter-school Social Justice Day takes place three times a year and strengthens the relationship between the Church and schools. Through hands-on activities and workshops, students are encouraged to adopt a more socially-conscious approach in their daily lives.
The synod’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit organised the day’s activities.
The theme of the day was ‘sustainability’. Posters with quotes about sustainability were placed around the ground floor and the students voted for their favourite quote.
Students participated in a variety of skills-based workshops throughout the day. A ‘Responsible Travel’ game taught students the importance of minimising the harm on local communities when holidaying overseas.
The game mimicked the style of Monopoly but instead of purchasing property, players select ‘activity cards’. Throughout the game, students learn about the consequences of unethical tourism, which can lead to the exploitation of local people.
As part of the workshop, students examined the impact Adani’s Carmichael coal mine will have on the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental groups have expressed concerns at the record of Adani, which has been accused of environmental destruction, tax evasion and bribery.
Students wrote on a sign the reasons why they want to protect the reef from the coal mine. They took a photo of themselves holding the sign and tweeted it at the big four banks – Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac – urging them to rule out funding the mine.
An issue concerning many students was the impact the coal mine will have on biodiversity.
“If you kill the reef, you kill our ecosystem,” one of the signs read.
“We should keep the Great Barrier Reef because it is an Australian icon and a tourist attraction”, another sign read.
JIM Unit director Dr Mark Zirnsak is calling on Uniting Church members to write to the big four Australian banks. A copy of the letter-writing action can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org..
You are also encouraged to tweet at the big four banks using the hashtag #savethereef.
The Justice and International Mission unit is a department of Commission for Mission.