Social Justice Group Overview

The Social Justice Group of Sacred Heart Parish, Sandringham, has been meeting for almost twenty years.  In addition to raising awareness of social justice issues, particularly in regard to indigenous people and asylum-seekers, it has also been active in supporting the people of Remexio, Timor-Leste.  The following paragraphs provide information about the work of the Social Justice Group, which receives generous support from our parish and school communities.

Remexio, Our Twin Parish

Our twin parish of Remexio is in Timor-Leste, one of our closest neighbours, the poorest country in Asia and one of the poorest in the world.  Although some development is occurring in Dili, the more remote areas (like Remexio) are still suffering poverty, unemployment and starvation.  Education is not available for many children.  The work of the SJG, and the support of the parish and the school, addresses some of these needs. 

Developing our Relationship with Remexio

We have direct contact with the priests in Remexio.  Initially, this was with Fr David who was the parish priest in 2010 and invited members of the Social Justice Group to visit. In September 2011, three of our members took up the invitation with the aim of further developing our relationship with the people of Remexio.   We also hoped to gain a better understanding of the needs of the people and how we could best support them. Since that time, at least one of our members has visited annually, often accompanied by teachers from the school or others from the SJG. As well as liaising with the priests, we have developed connections with leaders in the community, teachers at the schools, Dominican Sisters in the parish, staff at Mary MacKillop International in Dili and many local people.

The Importance of Education

Enabling access to education and raising the standard of education available are vital for reducing poverty and enabling people to reach their potential.  Education is essential both for individuals and for the young nation of Timor-Leste as a whole. The Timor-Leste Raffle, held each year and drawn at the Parish dinner on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, is our big effort towards improving education in Remexio. The proceeds of this raffle (almost $7 000 in 2018) provide funds for volunteer teacher salaries in schools in the Remexio area and scholarships for local students wishing to complete tertiary courses in education, health or trades.  Our Christmas Appeal gives the Sandringham Parish the option of providing funds for compassionate care packages for the poor and elderly and health care or back to school packages for disadvantaged children.  The generosity of parishioners and school families is making a significant contribution to the futures of young people in Timor Leste.

First Peoples Focus

The Social Justice Group has an Indigenous focus in our activities. The acknowledgement of Aboriginal peoples, especially the traditional owners and custodians of the Sandringham area, appears in each Parish bulletin.  We have a beautiful Message Stick , which is on permanent display and is used in some Masses. We mark NAIDOC week each year at the weekend Masses and raise awareness of issues of reconciliation.

Asylum Seeker Support

The harsh policies of successive governments, in relation to refugees and asylum seekers, is a cause for concern. Our members have been active in support of the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, attending information evenings, volunteering to teach sewing, assisting people in their homes to learn English and conducting appeals for warm clothing, food and cleaning products. We have joined with other churches in the Sandringham area to organize a meeting with our local member to protest against the cruel treatment of these most vulnerable people.

We Need  You

The Social Justice Group is very grateful for the support of the parish and the school for our activities.   We are always looking for new members and new ideas.  You are welcome to speak to one of our members, contact us via the parish email or come to our meetings.