Mount St Benedict College facilitated lively discussion and reflection at its 19th annual Social Justice Forum in mid-May. The theme: “Who Is My Neighbour? Talking Hospitality in the 21st Century” aligned with the 2018 College value of Hospitality and the parable of the Good Samaritan, calling those gathered to look beyond themselves to see the needs of others.

The evening began with a welcome to country by Lindsay from the Wandana Aboriginal Education Centre and was followed by keynote speaker Ms Sherrine Clark from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). ASRC began as an idea by a small group of TAFE students and has now grown to an interstate organisation that serves a broad community of people who are new to Australia.

MSB offered more than 20 workshops on the night covering a wide range of local, national and international topics and concerns. Throughout the evening, the speakers challenged the students to think about the reception of refugees in Australia, how we relate to our natural environment and what it means to be a community. With over 15 schools attending, the evening also provided a great opportunity for senior students to network with one another around shared areas of interest and to consider options for further work together.

Poet Will Small performed a poem that very compellingly stated the simple power of the word ‘Shalom’ in our world. Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness and completeness. It is used idiomatically to indicate both hello and goodbye. He emphasised how important the gesture of saying ‘shalom’ to one another could not only transform us as individuals but transform our world.

The final session of the evening was a panel discussion with stimulating questions and answers arising from earlier sessions at the forum. Student leaders from Mount St Benedict College are to be congratulated on the achievement of staging such a successful event.