Social Justice


Bishop Paul Bird CSsR, Jim Ryan (Parishioner), Jo Rix (Catholic Earthcare), Rachel Smith (Executive Member for CEO Ballarat), Noel Gregory (Parishioner), Sue Searls (Catholic Mission and Caritas, and parishioner), Sr. Helen Nolen (Sisters of Mercy), Tony Fitzgerald (CEO Centacare and parishioner), Anthea Hinchey (Secondary Education and parishioner), Stacey Atkins (Primary Education and parishioner), Andrew O’Flynn (St Vincent de Paul), Fiona Tonkin (minutes) and Felicity Liston.


Executive Member:
Rachel Smith

Phone: 03 5337 7135
Email: Social Justice Executive Member

Below is an explanation of the role of this commission.

The role of the BDSJC is to advise the Bishop of the Commissions address of social justice issues and spread the Gospel message to the local Church and wider community. The commission collaborates to promote joint action with the Church and other groups in favor of justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

BDSJC works to develop a Christian contribution to public debates on social issues especially in areas of local or regional impact. The commission promotes spirituality through liturgy, structures and agencies, giving prominence to right relationships, respect for life and creation, and the promotion of liberation from every form of oppression.

Report from the Ballarat Diocese Social Justice Commission meetings can be read below:

May 2017
September 2017
November 2017
June 2018
September 2018
October 2018
February 2019
April 2019
July 2019
November 2019



There are so many ways you can get involved in Social Justice in Ballarat.  Many groups and organisations want you to be involved and are ready to take your call.  Download our flyer below and check out the organisations you can contact. Download our contacts HERE

The Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission is hosting a zoom webinar for anyone who wants to know more about mental health in Australia and to empower participants to understand mental health, the supports available here in Australia and provide an opportunity to reach out, encourage hope and bring fullness of life to those we love and care for.
The Zoom webinar will be held on Sunday, October 4, 2020 from 2.00pm – 3.00pm.



  • Bishop Paul Bird will introduce the 2020-2021 Bishop’s Conference Social Justice Statement ‘To Live Life to the Full, Mental Health in Australia Today’. The statement offers information on how we can care for our most vulnerable during this time of pandemic. It encourages faith communities, governments and each one of us, to make mental health a priority.
  • Graeme Davy-Watts works as a mental health manager for Centacare. He has almost twenty years of experience in various clinical roles. He holds a specialist postgraduate qualification in low intensity interventions, an honours degree in psychology and has held various leadership positions. Graeme will talk to us about the current reality of mental health in Australia today, what we have to learn from developing countries around the world and what supports are available for preventing mental ill health in Australia.

Please register by sending your name and contact email to Dr. Rachel Smith at

Download the flyer here


The Commission also provides contact information of services to assist with mental health

Download contact information here


To access the statement and further resources, click here.


On Wednesday 11th September, Centare hosted a leadership and spirituality breakfast at Mecure, Ballarat.  Many local parishioners, community members, clinicians, health care workers, educators, social justice advocates and religious education leaders attended the event.  Bishop Paul Bird offered a prayer of grace before breakfast and Chief Executive Officer (Centacare) and BDSJC member Tony Fitzgerald introduced Chris Lowney to the group.

Chris Lowney was a Jesuit Priest and is an author and speaker on leadership and Ignatian spirituality.  ‘Everyone Leads’, Chris’ recent book on revitalisation of the Church, builds on the Ignatian principle that everyone exercises a leadership role.  In his presentation, Chris encouraged listeners to reflect on 2 key principles of leadership, which he argued is mainly a spiritual role.  He reflected on the need for a good leader to ‘do the laundry’ and to take ‘pit stops’.  Doing the laundry referred to the call for leaders to live and be with all those whom they lead, and to always serve others first.  Chris suggested leaders need to attend to the spiritual nourishment required to lead effectively and to do so by taking ‘pit stops’ – to take time daily, to reflect on one’s work and to review one’s leadership capabilities.

Chris promoted five ‘take home’ messages to his audience, who were able to ask complex questions throughout the session.  Chris’ messages were:

Feel called to lead because everyone is a leader
Serve a purpose that is greater than yourself
Treat others with dignity
View service as leadership
Reflect daily

As a community we thank Catholic Social Services for organising this valuable event.  You can find out more about Chris and access his publications by clicking here.


Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) is a multi faith network committed to action on climate change.  Click HERE for ARRCC


The mission of Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV) is to assist the Catholic Church in Victoria to fulfil the gospel imperatives to stand with and serve the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised; and work for a just, equitable and compassionate society.  Here is the link to their website.


In August two members of Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission attended the ACSJC Annual Social Justice Conference in Sydney.  Anthea Hinchey (Chair) and Rachel Smith (Executive Officer) attended the conference on behalf of BDSJC. The conference provided opportunities for the BDSJC members to network with other social justice groups and to learn from the presenters at the conference.  The conference was hosted by John Ferguson (ACSJC) and was held at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney. The conference focused on the statement ‘Making it Real: Genuine Human Encounter in our Digital World’. Presenters included Beth Doherty (musician, journalist and teacher), Matthew Howard (social media expert) and Sue Martin (Catholic Earthcare).

The 2019-2020 Bishop’s Conference Social Justice Statement acknowledges the valuable contribution digital technology has made to our lives and yet some elements of human engagement with social media has left us at odds with human solidarity.  Pope Francis suggests we must become confident citizens of the digital world and yet it is argued that we must identify the human issues that contribute to the misuse of social media.  The statement calls us to be good neighbours but to also be the loving, understanding, faithful and truthful co-constructors of the online world.

At the Sydney gathering, the 2018-2019 Social Justice statement was unpacked and reflected upon in the context of the parable of The Good Samaritan. The statement will be used to inspire and drive the work of the BDSJC in the coming months.  To access the statement click here.


This website contains a range of information and resources for information and prayer. Click here to read more.



In 2018 BDSJC joined forces with Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Sandhurst, Sale and Hobart, ACRATH, Office of Justice and Peace – Melbourne and ACU to stand against human trafficking and slavery.  The name of the group is ‘Vic-Tas Catholic Modern Slavery Taskforce’.  One of the group’s current aims to slavery proof our schools and staffrooms by purchasing fair trade products only.  Want to get involved?  Click here.


Mercy Works recruits volunteers to support students from a refugee/asylum seeker background in Ballarat schools through their Mercy Connect Project.  The project aims to provide mentoring for young people to optimize their literacy development, academic and social learning.

Mercy Connect volunteers work with students during school hours and the volunteer commitment is for approximately three hours per week.  Experience working in an educational setting is preferred, but volunteers receive on-going training and support.   Obtaining a current Working with Children Check is part of the Application Process.

For more information contact Donna Stewart, ph. 0417 624 330 or email:



Find out how you can take action to ensure your online interactions are genuine and promote the dignity of the human person.  Click here.


“For Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas: Justice for refugees and asylum seekers”, the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Statement 2015-16 confronted Australia’s current deterrence-based response and reminds us of the nearly 60 million people who are displaced around the world.

This number has increased.   By the end of 2017, according to a UNHCR report, there were 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world.

In February 2017, the Pope addressed the Sixth International Forum on Migration and Peace saying it is a “moral imperative” to protect migrant workers “and among these particularly men and women in irregular situations” as well as those “exiled and seeking asylum” or “victims of trafficking.”  He stated that “defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.”

Pope Francis says “What is needed is a change of attitude to overcome the indifference”.

A list of links to Australian organisations that work with refugees and asylum seekers:

Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council-

Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees-

Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA)-

Mercy Connect   (Mercy Works)-

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre-

Refugee Council of Australia-

Ballarat Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children (GADRC)

House of Welcome – Ballarat

Facebook :  House of Welcome, Ballarat

News updates can be accessed at

Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law

Daniel Webb -Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre

Julian Burnside – Lawyer, Author, Human Rights and Refugee Advocate

ACBC Statement 2015-16

Laudato Si’

Bread4Today– is a wonderful app anyone can use to access daily prayer and reflection.  You can find out more about it here.

All God’s Children

Our article titled ‘All God’s Children’ on page 13 and 14 of ‘Our Diocesan Community’ (Nov 2019) seeks to engage community members in support of refugees and those those seeking asylum.  Here are a number of contacts you may find helpful:

How to get involved:

Mercy Works: recruits volunteers to support students from a refugee/asylum seeker background in Ballarat Schools through their Mercy Connect Project.

The project aims to provide mentoring for young people to optimize their literacy development, academic and social learning.

Contact Donna Stewart on 0417 624 330 or email:

Saint Vincent de Paul: a lay Catholic organisation that assists people experiencing poverty and inequality and works to shape a more just and compassionate society.  Vinnies Conferences can be found throughout the Diocese.


Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council: works in partnership with other community organisations, Cultural Associations and members to actively promote multiculturalism, cultural diversity and the well-being of all migrant communities throughout the Region.


Ballarat Regional Asylum Seeker Support Network (BRASSN): is a subcommittee of the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council.  Its membership comprises representation from BRMC, GADRC, R.A.R. House of Welcome, Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), Ballarat Community Health, Ballarat City Council, ASRC, Uniting Church and the Ballarat Catholic Diocesan Social Justice Commission.  Members from this group facilitate fundraising events to raise funds to support the emergency needs of refugee families and much more.  The committee also promotes and facilitates events during Refugee Week.

Grandmothers against the Detention of Refugee Children (GADRC):  committed to achieving freedom for all refugee children held by or on behalf of the Australian Government.


Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR):   grassroot movement striving to return compassion and humanity to Australian’s treatment of asylum seekers. There are a number of GRADC chapters in our Diocese.  For contact details of a group in your region:

House of Welcome, Ballarat:  provides emergency accommodation, advocacy and support for asylum seeker families.  Donations of food, toiletries and vouchers can be made.  Call 0401175045 for details and a list of donations needed.

BDSJC Annual Report 2019 Annual Report 2019(1).pdf

HOST A FAIR TRADE MORNING TEA in your workplace or Community group on THURSDAY, 13TH FEBRUARY

Here’s your chance to make a difference!  Why? Because it is our very mission.

All people from our community can join in solidarity to raise awareness of human trafficking and forced labor in Australia, just by hosting a simple fair trade morning tea – It’s EASY!  To buy Fair Trade tea, coffee and chocolate, look for these certifications.

(Aldi have more than the major supermarkets). Who is St. Josephine Bakhita?  Email Rachel Smith to register your intent to participate and send a photo through for sharing on our website.  Together we can make a difference!