Social Justice

social_justiceAt Edmund Rice College, Social Justice and specifically, Christian Service-Learning, are about responsibility and engagement with the wider community. We seek to support the Edmund Rice ethos of ‘presence, compassion and liberation’ to contribute to the Catholic aims of justice, peace and stewardship for the integrity of creation. Each person, staff and students, in our school community is challenged to ‘make a difference’ to the circles of community to which he / she belongs. We acknowledge that God has given us many talents and resources for our own benefit as well as the benefit of others. In seeking to bring social justice to the world, we must learn to recognise our own giftedness and generously share those gifts for the service of others. There are many opportunities to do this at Edmund Rice College.

Rawa School, Punmu Community , WA

Year 11 Immersion

“The Mission of Edmund Rice College is to be a caring community inspired by Catholic traditions and values. This College seeks to educate the whole person; respecting and nurturing individual talents and gifts while challenging each to aspire to personal excellence. The College endeavours to develop in each person a sense of their own dignity and worth and a respect for others. Staff and students are challenged to contribute to the creation of a just society.”

The College is developing a program of experiences and opportunities to support students to engage with the wider community in order to develop a more just world for all. We are guided by our mission statement and our touchstones of Gospel Spirituality, Inclusive Community, Justice & Solidarity and Liberating Education.


7 students and 3 staff members will visit Rawa School in the Punmu Community, Western Australia. Details as follows:

  • The cost of the immersion is $2000 per person. The College will contribute $1500 and each participant is asked to contribute $500. However, students should not let cost be a barrier to applying as there are also bursaries available for families who may need them.
  • Pre-immersion: Students undertake a program of preparation and reflection with the teachers involved and other community guests. This will involve keeping a journal and doing some practical preparation such as advertising the school in the ERC community.
  • Immersion: Leave on Saturday, 7th June. Flight from Sydney to Perth, then to Port Hedland. Overnight at Port Hedland before driving to Punmu on Sunday. Spend one week in community, working with students at Rawa School, learning about the culture and life. Leave Punmu on Saturday, 14th June, to drive to Port Hedland. Either leave for Perth then on to Sydney OR overnight in Port Hedland and leave for Sydney on Sunday morning. Return to Wollongong Sunday, 15th June.
  • Students will keep an immersion journal similar to their CSL Journal.
  • Post-immersion: Students find avenues to share their experience with the community through assemblies, newsletter, yearbook, etc. There will be meetings with the teachers involved as a debrief of the experience and an opportunity to help prepare the next group of students to go.
  • Students are expected to be involved in social justice activities and promote social justice through the College on an ongoing basis.

Provision will be made to allow students more time to complete assignments as part of their Year 11 Assessment Program.

Please answer all the questions in this Application and hand it to Mrs Hurley by Tuesday, 25th February. Students will be notified by Tuesday 11th March if they are successful in gaining a place in the immersion group.

Missions & Charities

The College supports the Caritas, Catholic Mission, St Vincent DePaul, Red Cross and Legacy each year through community door-knocks or other organised appeals. Further to this, each Year group chooses a particular charity that they will support with their missions collections and activities. For 2008 these included:

Year 7  – Uganda Kampala School / Eddy’s Place

Year 8  – Wollongong Children’s Ward

Year 9  –  Care Flight

Year 10 –  Leukaemia Foundation

Year 11 – Wollongong Wesley Mission Community Kitchen

Year 12 – Br Pat Keogh Memorial Scholarship for a school for the blind at Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

Key Learning Areas – Curriculum

Teachers are encouraged to incorporate the values of justice, peace and stewardship for the integrity of creation into their curriculum. In many cases students are given direct opportunities to use their values, knowledge and skills learned in a particular subject to serve the community. In 2008 these included Ms McDonell’s Year 11 Hospitality class preparing and service of food to homeless people at the Wesley Uniting Church Community Kitchen and Mr Volk’s Construction class involved in the Spearing Reserve Bushcare Project. Mr Bonnacorso and Mr Haybittle organised primary school visits for the College music students and all Year 11 Studies of Religion students visited a local Mosque to learn more about the Islamic faith. All of these opportunities give students a chance to connect to the wider community, fostering justice and peace, and to develop their competencies in particular KLAs.


 A primary goal of Edmund Rice schools is evangelisation.

”Evangelisation means bringing the good news of Jesus to life and culture.  Our education seeks to prepare students for active involvement as members of the human community, bringing a practical knowledge, appreciation and celebration of Catholic faith and spirituality to bear upon events of life.”

Reflecting on the Gospel in light of the needs of our local community is integral to helping students achieve a sense of their own worth. Education is about the total formation of each person: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, not just for the personal fulfillment of the individual but to enable them to contribute to the world in which they live.

“Edmund Rice schools educate their students towards involvement, partnership and responsibility toward society, as distinct from mere personal success. They educate towards selflessness and solidarity with all, especially the needy, as distinct from education towards security and power for some. They recognise that my life does not belong to me – it belongs to others and to God. God given talents are….. given for service to the wider community.”

The challenge of understanding how we are connected to every living person and thing in God’s world underpins social justice. We are challenged to be the Church and to live the Gospel values by loving God and our neighbour. Our social justice program is also closely tied to the liturgical life of the College.

Christian Service-Learning (CSL)

Our love is not to be just words or mere talk, 
but something real and active. (Jn.3:18) 

We ask all our prospective graduates to contribute to the communities to which they belong in the spirit of justice, love and compassion not because they ‘have’ to, but because it lies at the heart of an Edmund Rice education that is based on the teachings of Jesus and all those who follow him.  We hope that each student can honestly reflect on their school experience and say that they have been encouraged to be ‘a man for others’.

Students have opportunities to participate in age appropriate CSL at all Year levels. In Years 7 – 10, the CSL program is tied to academic units in Religion Studies and the service component is tied to assessment.

The Stage 4 (Years 7 & 8) program ‘Learning to Serve’ is based on the communities of Home, School and Church. Students engage in service activities that challenge them to take responsibility in their primary circles of living.

In Stage 5 (Years 9 & 10) ‘Reaching Out’ provides the framework for participation through service in the wider community. Boys volunteer to help in various appeals for organizations such as Red Cross, St Vincent DePaul & Legacy and look to involve themselves in community activities that require volunteers.

 The Senior Project runs in Stage 6 (Years 11 and 12). This is a focused service program which connects boys to an agency or organization in one of the following Core areas:

  • Serving people in Aged Care
  • Supporting people with a disability
  • Supporting refugees or other migrants
  • Serving homeless or disadvantaged people
  • Serving disadvantaged children and youth
  • Service to care for the environment

Students will normally serve about 30 hours (an average of two hours per week) and keep a learning journal throughout the experience. Once the placement has finished, each student is asked to reflect on the experience in an extended response essay. Although this program is not connected to any one KLA and therefore draws no academic grade, it is an expectation that every student makes time to complete a senior project. Indeed, it is the hallmark of a student formed in the spirit of Edmund Rice, as evidenced by the boys’ own reflections.

In their own words…..

Year 12 2008 CSL Reflections

“Through my Christian service-learning, I can now see that through my education at Edmund Rice, I have been prepared to go out into the wider community and use my experiences to help others and to be a role model… The younger students also taught me that if you are patient with others then you may gain an insight into yourself…

 Giving up my time before school on Thursday mornings allowed me to become more self-aware that children look up to older students so therefore you need to act responsibly when you are out in the general public…”

 “This work (helping remedial students) was particularly rewarding in my opinion, as there is a certain feeling that you get by explaining something to a student who needs help, seeing them finally understand… I gained a greater sense of patience through the exercise and found it easy to explain to the students without becoming frustrated…

Overall I found my CSL experience to be rewarding and witnessed it open my eyes to the varying ways in which we can assist those in need…”

 “I believe that my time at Compeer Illawarra has been very enriching. I have learnt a lot about myself and learnt a lot about mental illness and its effects on people. One of the main things I have learnt is how people with mental illness get mistreated in society, sometimes being passed off as drunk. The (Serenity Prayer) talks about many aspects of the Compeer Illawarra program and what it meant for me and what it means for society…
I believe that my time at Compeer Illawarra has led to changes in me on many different levels and has led to a great understanding of mental illness. I believe that I will try to still go to Compeer Illawarra if I have time, even after this project is finished.”  

 “… although our education has taught us to study to succeed, it also taught us to contribute to society first and foremost… (Being a volunteer leader in the Edmund Rice Camp) was an experience that I will remember for a lifetime,…
It is often a form of motivation for me during my HSC study, to strive to do my best and to succeed as I realise how privileged I am…”  

“ From my work with the University Nature Conservation group I have learnt to ultimately appreciate the role nature plays is sustaining our connection with the Lord – focussing on maintaining the environment before the effects of climate change and global warming kick in and ruin what humanity needs…
The Christian Brothers endeavour to… teach the younger generation of the importance of the environment, as I have learnt and might possibly continue this prospect (of involvement in conservation) into the future.”

“ My involvement in CSL relates to the ideal of using my God-given talents to help others… I used my hands to serve food for the Muslim community at the mosque and by knowing that Allah gave me these hands as a gift I must use it for the right things…
The mosque educates their students towards involvement, partnership and responsibility toward society as so does Edmund Rice schools; I find this similar because they have the same goal to make people closer to God and to get to know the community better…”        

“While we may not by ourselves be able to eradicate poverty, for example, we can make a difference. This was central to my experience at Jammers. While the intellectual disabilities of the juniors is obviously something that cannot be changed, by coaching them in something they enjoy we can add significantly to their quality of life…
My CSL was rewarding on a number of levels. Firstly, it gave me a sense of satisfaction that we could at least provide 2 hours of fun a week for the Jammers team. Also, the program allowed me to develop communication and organisational skills, and gave me the opportunity to work with a group of great people. The Christian service-learning program gave me the push to get involved with Jammers, and for this I am grateful.”

“Make a difference… three simple words that encouraged me to do the Christian Service-learning program. They first struck me on the front cover of our booklet… But, like any other of my colleagues I arrogantly and selfishly asked ‘What difference could I make with thirty hours? What will I get out of it?’ I asked myself what it means to be a Christian. I went to a Catholic school and it wasn’t until my 5th year of high school that I asked myself this question…. Jesus taught us to love others, share and give; all of these things it is to be human, all of the things it is to be Christian….. Jesus was one man. I, we are also individuals.

… Instead of asking questions on what possible difference I could make, I can now make inferences on the differences I have made through volunteering at St Therese, donating blood and participating in (ERC Hunger for Justice), I have taught and provided people with opportunities and I will continue to do so outside of school and do not regret a single hour or minute spent. What initially seemed as a useless 30 hours or ‘waste of time’ turned out to be experiences where I felt involved in issues throughout the world and proud of myself.”

“I realised the vast number of friends I had made (at Jammers basketball for disabled children), and through many thanks from the students realised how I had actually made a difference to their lives, whether teaching new basketball skills or just being a new friend.”                                 

“I have learnt a lot through my placement, about the rewards and struggles of selflessly giving your services to another. I would like to stress the rewards greatly outweighed the struggles. As I gained a lot in my placements and now have a greater sense of community.”                       

“I learnt (from giving blood) that each donation can potentially save three people’s lives. This is a great feeling as you don’t often get to give somebody the gift of life. I will continue to give blood as often as possible for the rest of my life…. I believe giving blood is one of the most beneficial things I have done in my life and am pleased the College has given me the opportunity to participate.”   

”Thinking about working side by side with Jesus “… changes the way I see myself at my placement by having more confidence and interacting with the people that are in need of help. Helping out at the Salvation Army  has inspired me to always help people along the way but also to give them a hand through life too….
 I have learnt that everyone has to have a go and help each other out no matter what it is…I enjoyed being there and working on a great job.”

“If Jesus was present at my placement site I don’t think he would treat anyone different than those already there treat each other. Jesus taught us to treat each other as we would like to be treated, at my placement everyone is treated fairly and justly and everyone’s opinions are sought and acknowledged
Jesus would teach us that it is better to give than to receive and should we give we will receive in other ways such as emotional maturity and well-being…”

“Although it was initially a character testing experience it evolved into a character building experience.”                           

“Through these regular involvements with other members of the community at PCYC I believe that I have assisted in educating and providing a partnership towards people less fortunate than myself. And I now understand how my life does not belong to me – it belongs to others and God; this statement I previously did not understand but now it is clear to me. I now have a better perspective of some of the needs of the community, and that I must be willing to go forth into the community and seek out people who may need assistance rather than thinking that if they need help they will find me or will sort itself out.”

“Overall, my project has allowed me to help and participate within the community. The contribution  made, I feel, is important and in turn makes me a more compassionate individual.”

“I found that the CSL program operated by Edmund Rice College a new and challenging experience; it took (me) out of (my) comfort zone and placed (me) in a world which was unknown to me. I can now see why, apart from the fact that employers like the idea that we have taken the initiative to help our community, that Edmund Rice College gets us to go out and help, as it really does expand your mind.”

“Jesus would encourage the soup kitchen, as Jesus was all about teaching how the better off should help the poor.”

“Interacting with the mentally disabled has shown me how much they enjoy life and in a lot of cases are happier than people who do not have a disability. I have grown spiritually as I now know how rewarding helping others can be… By having the CSL program, Edmund Rice College is teaching its students how to be role models in today’s society and to realise that their life doesn’t belong to them (only), it belongs to God and their community.”

“By actively engaging in the initiatives of PCYC I believe we are doing our bit, no matter how small, to try and achieve some form of social justice within the community to try to cast off the injustices that these kids experience in everyday life and bring about a better tomorrow for all of them.”

“In my personal (CSL) experience… I had to learn to tolerate others and be patient with their abilities while they were trying to learn from not only conventional sources but also from one another as they worked through different aspects of their school life…. But what is even more impressive is that I learned something from them. I learned how to best take advantage of any situation to be able to communicate what knowledge that I have to others without talking in circles…
 … although your God will always give you the strength that you need to accomplish anything, it is really you who must have the desire to reach down and find strength within yourself.”

“Volunteering at The Flagstaff Group has allowed me to understand people’s disabilities, and by communicating with them I have learned there is no difference between me and any one of them. It has given me great insight into disabled people that I have taken away with me and will always be part of me. The first-hand experience of meeting disabled people at The Flagstaff Group has greatly benefitted me and I think it has benefitted the disabled people as well.”

“So this (CSL project) is me doing something I love doing plus helping the community out in a huge way… I think it’s good that our school, Edmund Rice, pushes us into doing the program (Service-learning). It helps us as young men learn that we have got lots in our lives; we are very lucky and because of this we need to go and help people that are worse off than us…”

“My involvement with the Disability Trust… has helped me see that helping others gives back many rewards as it makes you feel good about yourself because you helped someone else to make their life easier and more enjoyable.”

“I have always believed that we all have our purpose in life but it is not always clear what that is. The CSL( program) gives you an opportunity to give back to the wider community. We all have talents, some more obvious than others, and to be able to share these talents with others gives you that purpose and fulfilment as God would want.”

Edmund Rice College Social Justice Awards

Although it should never be the purpose or aim of any student to seek awards or rewards of any kind for participating in social justice work, it is nevertheless important from the school’s and community’s points of view that we recognise achievement and effort in the same way as we recognise achievement and effort in other areas of College life.

Level One: Christian Service-Learning Award (7-8, and 9-10)

A Certificate for a minimum of 15 hours of approved CSL over a two year period.

Level Two: Christian Service-Learning Badge (7-8, and 9-10)

 A Certificate and CSL badge that can be worn on the College uniform for a minimum of 40 hours of approved CSL over a two year period.

Level Three: Christian Service-Learning Medal (11-12 only)

A Certificate and CSL Medal awarded at the end of Year 12 for a minimum of 100 hours of approved and recorded CSL during Years 11 and 12.  You must complete your Year 11 Project (service journal and reflection paper) to receive this award.

The Br CV Bell Participation Award.

The Year 8 student who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to approved CSL activities for Years 7 and 8.

The Fr Chris Riley Participation Award.

The Year 10 student who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to approved CSL activites for Year 9 and 10.

The Br Paul Oakley Participation Award.

The Year 12 student who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to approved CSL activites and has shown learning, growth and leadership through his reflection on his experience fo the Senior Project and a variety of service activities.