It was the students’ turn to set the agenda away from their normal teachers and textbooks at a schools’ justice day held earlier this month.
Over 90 year 9 and 10 students from six schools associated with the Uniting Church gathered at the Methodist Ladies College (MLC) on 4 September to take part in student-led workshops around the theme “When Action Meets Compassion, Lives Change”.
The schools involved were Aitken College, Cornish College, Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School , MLC, St Leonard’s College, and Kingswood College.
Kingswood year 9 students Grace McElholum, Ashneeta Kapadia and Hayden McElholum offered the below reflection of the day.
“The social justice conference was one of our highlights of the year, as the activities we participated in were student-led,” the group wrote.
“We have had the chance to meet up with people from other schools, and share our views on different current issues we are passionate about.
The students said that the student-led workshops “opened our eyes to all the injustices that are going on in the world, especially our nation, and how raising awareness of even a small issue can make a huge difference”.
“We got to learn about causes other schools were interested in, heavily based on recycling and what rubbish is doing to our planet,” the group wrote.
Students were inspired to take action such as sending postcards to Environment Minister Melissa Price sharing their views on the Adani mine.
The students thanked those, such as Ms Lockwood, who had helped organise the day.
Schools project worker Sarah Lockwood said it was a day of “provocation and passion”.
Ms Lockwood said along with environmental issues there was passionate debate about refugees as well as careful conversations and advice around issues surrounding mental health and happiness.
“It was incredibly inspiring to see students working collaboratively and creatively to lead the conversation for change,” she said.
“These students are examining their own privilege, and challenging us all to think about the ethical choices we make on a daily basis.
Justice Cluster campaign organiser Denisse Sandoval partnered with Ms Lockwood to help organise the day.
“It was uplifting to hear such passion for social justice from 15 and 16 year olds, and very impressive,” Ms Sandoval said.
“I hope their passion for justice continues as they enter university.”