By Rachel Curry
Despite focusing on the opportunities and challenges posed by our ageing population, the message of the 2016-17 Social Justice Statement is just as relevant for young people as it is for the elderly, according to the Director of the Archdiocese of Perth’s Justice, Ecology and Development Office (JEDO), Carol Mitchell.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference launched the statement, titled A Place at the Table: Social Justice in an Ageing Society, on Social Justice Sunday on 25 September last year.
Reflecting on the statement, which will remain a focus for JEDO throughout 2017, Mrs Mitchell said she was moved by the bishops’ call for solidarity among generations.
“What I personally appreciate with the statement from the bishops is the intergenerational and whole of community focus it has – that is, we all have our own part to play to foster solidarity among generations and to ensure that older people have a place in the heart of the community,” she said.
“In fact, the Social Justice Statement Prayer, A Prayer for All Ages, includes reflections for ‘We who are growing old’ – and really, that’s all of us, isn’t it?”
As someone who is “privileged” to have her own parents actively engaged in her extended family life, Mrs Mitchell said the statement “reminds us of our inter-connectedness and need for each other”.
She added that our society can learn much from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in terms of the importance they place on Elders in their communities and their broader kin relationships.
“However, when we consider our Indigenous brothers and sisters, we also need to acknowledge that they generally don’t get the same opportunity to benefit from a longer life – meaning longstanding disadvantage is tragically cheating them of the extended life that many other Australians enjoy,” she said.
“I believe this is a real opportunity for our parishes to connect with our First Australians. The statement begins this conversation, but it would be wonderful for everyone to really embrace this message…