Catholic schools called to embrace fair trade

Thursday 14 February 2019

Media and Communications Office 
A call to action was made last week for Catholic schools around Melbourne to consider purchasing fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate.
Catholic Education Melbourne Director Dr Paul Sharkey along with the team from ACRATH made the decision to focus on a few initiatives to begin with to ensure a quality campaign.
‘It is easy to think of slavery as a remote issue, either not much to do with Australia or not much to do with our time in history. In fact, the choices we make very much support or discourage slavery and so we need to become much more educated in this area, ‘Paul said of the inception of the campaign.

‘The campaign around purchasing fair trade tea and coffee seemed like a good place to start as did the campaign to buy slavery-free chocolate for Easter Eggs,’ Paul said.
‘Chocolate and coffee both get people’s attention so it seemed like a good place to start raising people’s awareness in this area.’
Paul has been putting his efforts into the Catholic leadership space for 4 years and in more recent months has been asked to focus more on the appointment and review of Principals, Catholic identity, religious education and governance.
 Paul Sharkey (pictured far right) at the Feast of St Bakhita's Vigil Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral with Sr Claire Griffin from ACRATH two local Catholic highschool students
‘We are starting with the people who are switched-on and motivated. Our plan would then be to show others how easy it is and how important it is.’
But the campaign will not be an entirely easy feat.
‘The first hurdle is for people to realise that slavery has many forms and that it is real and that we are involved in it, at least to some degree, by the clothes we buy, the chocolate we eat and so on,’ he explained.
‘The second hurdle is more practical: Which products should we buy? Are there issues around quality or price? We will be sharing our learning with the sector as we move into this campaign.’
Paul explains that there are schools that have already been on board, making the switch before Catholic Education Melbourne decided to show leadership in this area.
‘I know others have been encouraged to get on board because they have seen some merit in the position that we have put to them,’ he said.
‘My hope is that the campaign gathers good momentum in the coming months.’
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