Justice & Social Justice Lessons for community leaders
Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program (LMCLP) participants toured the Macedon Ranges and Melbourne for four days in June to come face-to-face with the big social justice issues of our times and to learn directly from the people who tackle them every day. The themes of Justice and Social Justice shone a deep and confronting spotlight on human rights, homelessness, racism, homophobia, indigenous youth programs, gender equality, terrorism, and sentencing and conditions within the justice and youth justice systems.
“I had to dig deep and ask myself about my beliefs and opinions,” said Travis Price from Echuca. “I found myself realising I have come a long way in the past 5 months with the program, but I have a long way to go. I now realise I’m still ignorant to many issues as my understanding and knowledge of them has come from areas of influence that only make our communities divided.”
Participants also took a look at politics with a panel on ‘the humans behind politics’ on the way to Melbourne, at the Kerrie Hall near Hanging Rock where the group met Mary-Anne Thomas, member for Macedon Ranges; Jennifer Anderson, Mayor Macedon Ranges Shire Council; and Janet Pearce; Councillor Macedon Ranges Shire (and LMCLP graduate). “The trio were a shining example of women prepared and willing to take up the baton and fight for fair in local and state government. They were generous in using anecdotes from their own personal experience and offering advice for leaning in to leadership roles to make a difference, including saying yes to every opportunity. It was a joy to watch them collaborating and cooperating in such a respectful, honest and passionate way” said Dawn Bamforth from Tylden.
At Parliament House in Melbourne the group were hosted by both sides of politics and had the opportunity to meet with and hear from their local members and Ministerial representatives including Peter Walsh, MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Maree Edwards, MP, Jacinta Allan MP and Jaala Pulford MP.
“Whether it was with politicians or those working in the front lines, the sessions that provided the most inspiration and enthusiasm for the group to act were those that used stories well,” said Charlotte Aves from Gisborne. “Often when discussing big issues like homelessness, mental illness, terrorism, racism, homophobia, justice and human rights we dehumanise, use statistics and forget that we are talking about people. By putting the people ahead of the issue, we can begin to shine a light on the aspects of our society that are currently in the darkness.”
Participants also explored elements of our justice system through a hand’s on workshop at the Sentencing Advisory Council putting them in the shoes of a County Court Judge in a real case scenario and the different sentencing options and considerations. This was then put into context with a visit to the Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct on the way home, with a tour and a briefing from new Manager Andrew Lourey on the challenges, opportunities and human story behind the youth justice system.
We were also privileged to be part of a fantastic workshop on ‘personal branding’ with the well known communications and PR expert Brett De Hoedt, and also spent some time at the Abbotsford Convent enjoying the inspiring story of Renew Newcastle from Marcus Westbury who is now embarking on a new project with the Collingwood Arts Precinct.
Participants were challenged, moved and inspired by the study tour, with Narelle Lyle from Bendigo noting: “I am an ordinary person. This Melbourne trip reminded me that many ordinary people achieve extraordinary things – and I can be one of them!” Moustafa Al-Rawi from Bendigo agreed, noting that “Having opinion on a subject is not enough, I need to own it and do something about it.”
Written by 2017 Participants