MORE than 250 high school students from across Brisbane gathered at Australian Catholic University (ACU National) recently to discuss social responsibility and the moral and ethical dimensions of life at the 2009 Social Justice Youth Forum.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Gabrielle McMullen said the forum on May 29 gave students the chance to actively participate in a range of lectures and workshops, conducted by various social justice groups, such as Caritas Australia, and ACU National staff and students.
“The Social Justice Youth Forum provides us with a most powerful message promoting social justice to the young people from local schools and to the university community,” Prof McMullen said.
“It is in the spirit of this message to us that we conduct our social justice forums and that so many of the university’s other initiatives related to transformational education are undertaken.
“We hope that by holding a social justice forum these young students have been inspired with a sense of social responsibility and concern for the dignity of all human beings.”
Prof McMullen said keynote speaker was 2007 Young Australian of the Year Tania Major, who challenged students to make a difference in their local communities.
Ms Major first came to prominence as the youngest person elected to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and has used her profile to draw attention to domestic violence in the Aboriginal community.
The indigenous youth advocate has over the years spoken to opinion makers, as well as governments and the public about sexual violence and rape in Aboriginal communities.
She encourages all Australians to make a difference and give all people a fair go regardless of their background, shape or colour.
A similar Social Justice Youth Forum was also held at ACU National’s North Sydney campus for the first time on May 27, with more than 150 students attending.
ACU student and research and project officer for the Justice and Peace Office in Sydney archdiocese Chantelle Ogilvie also shared her experience of social injustices and inspired students to make a difference.