News from the Mission Office
Did you know Jesus of Nazareth would be considered an asylum seeker in today’s world? Jesus, and his parent Mary and Joseph, had to escape to Egypt due to persecution. King Herod was killing all male Jewish boys, a race and gender that Jesus belonged to.
Did you also know it is not illegal to seek asylum? All of us, no matter the country we’re born in, the gender we are or the race we belong to, have 30 human rights. Number 14 is the Right to Seek Asylum.
As a Catholic School, in the Edmund Rice tradition, the four touchstones call our students to promote justice and solidarity, an inclusive community as well as actively live out the gospel values. Being such a community we cannot let the atrocities that have been well documented by the Guardian, continue to occur on Manus and Naru Islands.
The first week of September is National Child Protection week. During this week St Joseph’s College, as well as the three other Catholic Secondary Schools in Geelong, will stand in solidarity with people seeking asylum. We are partnering with the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) as well as the Edmund Rice Advocacy group, ERA for Change, so our voices will be stronger and louder.
The first event SJC will participate in is the 'Circle of Silence' being held in Federation Square on Friday 2 September. Over 100 secondary schools will be represented, as well as the four Catholic Secondary Schools in Geelong, and our silence will symbolise the silencing by the Australian government of people seeking asylum. In silence we will stand together to recognise the injustices faced by those people caught up in Australia’s immigration detention system.
The second event will be the school’s annual 'Detention 4 Detention' action on Wednesday 7 September. This is where we hope all of the SJC community will voluntary give themselves a lunchtime detention to show their support to the children and young people who currently stuck in immigration detention centres. Currently 49 children are still being held in Nauru, an offshore detention centre. You may recall the Guardian has recently shed light on the events occurring on Naru. Of the 2,116 reports made regarding assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government 51.3% of this reports involve children- even though children make up only about 18% of those in detention on Nauru. This must end.
Also on Wednesday the 7th there will be 25 students from the four Catholic Secondary schools, meeting with Richard Marles the federal Labour Member of Parliament for Corio. These students have workshopped together and will be asking questions to Mr Marles about Labour’s current policy on refugees and asylum seekers.
Next week you may also notice a banner tied to our fence proclaiming SJC Welcomes Refugees. We encourage all students and staff to sign this banner to demonstrate their support for the closing of offshore detention centres.