By Elina Banerji & Charlotte Pelling
After a year full of hardships, the topics and themes of Social Justice are very prominent in our society.
We decided to interview the former and upcoming Social Justice Captains about their ideas, opinions, and perspectives in this modern world. Thank you for sharing your inspiring outlook- the new roles of these successful girls benefit our Loreto community majorly and they have taken the time out of their day to give us an insight into their previous and new roles.
What are their roles and how do they benefit our Loreto community?
All of their roles relate and go back to the environment and the world around us. Their roles are or were to support and provide resources and campaigns for causes nationwide and around the globe.
We hoped that by interviewing these leaders, we would be able to perceive their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and beliefs.
How have these girls previously been involved in Social Justice and Ecology?
These girls all have a passion for the ecosystem and the environment around us, they consider their roles to be an incredible opportunity to express their passions and to increase student voice so that social justice continues to be a strong and vital part of the school community. They are advocates. They are activists. They are change-makers. They are leaders.
What changes have they implemented into the school? What changes will they make in the future?
They hope to make a significant and positive impact on the school. Throughout this year with COVID it would have been hard to implement any vital and major changes to the school as it has been difficult. They have managed to do small and impactful things such as raising awareness about plastic use at the school spring fair by setting up a stall for eliminating plastic waste by selling reusable drink bottles and raising money for the green team. Overall both the previous and upcoming Social justice Captains have simply been trying to give girls across the school the opportunity to physically be involved with Social Justice to make Loreto a better place.
Why are their roles so important to them all?
They feel that with the power of these roles, it gives them the opportunity to not only express their own ideas but to share their role with others so that their opinions can be heard and shared as well. Their role consists of helping those in need, whether it be the disadvantaged or those who can’t speak up for their rights. At Loreto, we are in a position to create change in society and these girls feel that they can be the voice for people around the world and the nation. They can represent them. They can support them. They can be advocates. They can be activists. They can be leaders.
What motivated them to go for their positions?
Ever since their early years of their time at Loreto, they all have been a part of the Green team and JPIC as long as they can remember. From such a young age, with such inspirational leaders to guide them, this was what they aspired to be.
All of these girls are very inspirational, bright leaders, who will no doubt impact the world and the Loreto Community. All of them are keen to work together and use their voices as a school community, or as an advocate for Ecology or Social Justice to help combat the environmental issues they are tackling together, to spread awareness on how they can achieve justice for our environment and humanity. Thank you to all of you for providing insight and an outlook into your journey as upcoming or former leaders.
Upcoming Social Justice Captain - Molly Haymen:
What are you most looking forward to in this role?
I am most looking forward to being able to share my role with other girls who are passionate about social justice. I’m really excited to help others raise their voices about issues or topics that resonate with them or feel really strongly about and to turn their ideas into real positive action that we can take as a school towards social justice.
Why is this role important to you?
To me, this role is important because it gives me the opportunity to not only express my own ideas but to share my role with others so that their opinions can be heard and shared as well. I think that social justice is extremely important as it celebrates diversity and helps to achieve equity and justice between all people in our society, and this role enables me to emphasise this and communicate the ideas to all others in the community who are passionate about it.
What is the main part of this new role? In other words, what is your job?
So far, I have been working with other Year 11s and Ms Clancy to brainstorm specific issues, ideas, and topics we would like to focus on throughout the coming year and our ideas for JPIC meetings and other ways to communicate the importance of social justice throughout the school. Throughout the year, my job will include working closely with JPIC, Ms Clancy, the social justice leaders, and Leila Mangos, our Ecology Captain, and collaboratively discussing issues and organising events that will raise awareness and funds for people who are in need or are not treated equitably in our society.
How did you react to this achievement?
I was so excited to achieve this role!
What motivated you to go for this new position?
I have been involved with JPIC and Social Justice since I started at Loreto in Year 7 and it has been something that I have always been interested in and passionate about. I thought that this role would be an incredible opportunity to express my passions and to increase student voice so that social justice continues to be a strong and vital part of our school community.
Do you work with the new Ecology captain? If so, how do you feel about working with the new Captain?
Yes, I do work with Leila, our Ecology Captain, quite closely. Our roles are quite similar as we both focus on issues in our world, and how we can use our voices as a school community to help combat these issues and to spread awareness on how we can achieve justice for our environment and humanity. I am very excited for how we are going to collaborate throughout the coming year!
How do you think you will benefit from this experience?
I think this experience will be so beneficial as I will learn so much about social justice and build many long-lasting relationships with others in the school community. Already, just from listening to the Year 11s and their ideas and visions for Social Justice, I have learned about so many issues and facts about the reality of how some people in the world are being treated, which has really opened my eyes and given me some perspective. I am looking forward to doing the same with the rest of JPIC and those who are passionate about Social Justice!
What changes do you hope to implement in the school with your leadership role?
Whilst discussion is so important, I also hope to give girls across the school the opportunity to physically be involved with Social Justice, such as going outside and helping those in need in the community. I also hope to focus on issues that have little attention drawn to them and less media coverage, or issues that go ‘out of trend’ so that we as a school can make such a significant positive impact.
How will this role help your future?
I think this role will help me in the future as it will enable me to always be open-minded and conscious of those who are less fortunate or in need in the community. It has also built on my passion and interest for Social Justice and will help me further raise awareness and help others through actions such as community service beyond Loreto Normanhurst.
Former Social Justice Captain - Luka Swain:
What motivated you to go for the position of Social Justice Captain?
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be Social Justice Captain and receive the opportunity to lead the Green Team and JPIC while working towards bettering the school and the wider community. I always looked up to the older girls, particularly the Social Justice Captain and the house Social Justice leaders, and saw how hard they worked for social justice. I’ve been a member of Green Team and JPIC since year 7 so my passion for social justice issues and the environment has only grown and evolved over the years. I’ve also always been really involved with community service; the reward it gave (and continues to give to me) prompted me to apply for Social Justice captain – I’m so grateful I received the role.
How do you think this role is similar to Ecology Captain?
I’m really interested to see what the new Ecology Captain entails! Whilst future Social Justice captains and Ecology Captains will have very different roles and jobs around the school, they will still have to work very well together; if they can collaborate effectively, I think they’ll be able to achieve much. Really, you can’t be social justice captain without striving for climate change awareness or helping the environment as littering or being wasteful isn’t being socially just! And vice versa, an ecology captain can’t be passionate about the environment without being passionate about social justice… the two coincide.
What have been some of the notable achievements and contributions you have made as Social Justice Captain?
Although this year has been very difficult due to COVID and I haven’t achieved as much as I had hoped, I’m still so proud of all that myself and the house Social Justice captains were able to accomplish. In term 4, I ran (alongside Mrs Cranfield and other Loreto coordinators) Loreto’s first ‘sustainability stall’ at Spring Fair. At the fair, we were able to eliminate plastic waste by selling reusable drink bottles and raising money for the green team. Whilst COVID, unfortunately, put a halt on this initiative, in Term 4, I worked hard to implement the beginning of the school’s ‘green travel plan’- which hopefully Leila will be able to continue. I’ve also been fortunate enough to continue most of the initiatives of previous years (despite COVID) like the Vinnies Christmas Hampers and Shrove Tuesday. What I am most proud of is how the social justice team and I reimagined the Green Team and JPIC. As COVID, unfortunately, prevented some of our initiatives from going ahead, we changed the meetings from constantly brainstorming and working towards projects to learning about different issues and topics. Each week we’d have PowerPoints, workshops, discussions, and activities to engage the team and inform people about various issues. I thought this was a really great change as the main reason people attend Green Team and JPIC is to learn and share their passion, not always to organise events.
What was your favourite part of your role?
My favourite part of the role was definitely running the Green Team and JPIC each week. There is something so special and exciting about discussing and working towards Social Justice issues with others with the same passions and beliefs. It's refreshing being surrounded by other passionate individuals each week; I really hope I have been able to inspire the younger girls to continue striving for social justice.
What is your best experience as a part of this role?
As I said above, I really enjoyed running the teams and organising new initiatives for the school like the sustainability stall. It’s really enthusing looking at projects that you have put so much work into becoming a reality. The role also put me out of my comfort zone at times such as presenting the did you know at assembly (which can be nerve-wrecking). While at the time I didn’t like the stress and uneasiness of being out of my comfort zone, in hindsight it was the best thing for me.
What has this role taught you?
This role has reinforced how powerful and instrumental young people (especially young women) can be at making change and putting pressure on those in power. Loreto has given me a voice which I will now know how to use in the wider society.
Who and what inspired you to go for this role?
Growing up in Green Team and JPIC, I was always inspired by the older girls and their commitment to social justice. As I got older and became more passionate about worldly issues like climate change and animal rights, I was really inspired to apply for this role. I also look up to people I see on the news and on social media like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai as well as my teachers especially Mrs Cranfield and Mrs Clancy.
What would you say were the benefits of being Social Justice Captain?
Being Social Justice Captain has helped me in all areas of my life. It has taught me valuable skills like organisation, leadership and teamwork. I’ve learnt how to organise events, lead a team, and delegate tasks. My passion for social justice has also developed and has led me to pursue a future job (hopefully) with social justice.
With the experience of being Social Justice Captain, what does Social Justice mean to you, and why did you want to make an impact?
Social Justice to me, means helping those in need, whether it be the disadvantaged or those who can’t speak up for their rights. At Loreto, we are in a position to create change for the voiceless in society. As someone who is privileged enough to have this voice, I believe that is my responsibility to do what I can for these people.
What advice would you give future Social Justice & Captains?
My main piece of advice for future captains would be to create realistic goals. Year 12 can be a very busy year so I would encourage them to ensure that they find a balance between schoolwork, Social Justice work and maintaining a healthy and social lifestyle. When you first take on the role you’ll have so much you want to achieve but make sure that your goals aren’t overwhelming and out of reach. Working for social justice should be enjoyable and inspiring not a burden. Make sure that if you are feeling overwhelmed, you talk to a teacher and delegate your workload to others (especially the house social justice leaders). Finally, remain passionate about social justice as the younger girls recognise this enthusiasm and become inspired themselves.
Have you ever regretted your decision of being Social Justice captain?
Although the role has been very difficult at times particularly when juggling schoolwork and with COVID, I have never regretted the role. I feel very grateful and honoured to have been given this opportunity and I have loved every single moment of it, even the hard times.
Is this role difficult to keep up with?
When applying for and accepting this role I definitely underestimated the amount of work and the time commitment of this role. The previous Social Justice captains always made it look very easy and simple when in reality there is a lot of work behind the scenes. I encourage everyone who goes for this role to consider whether they will whole-heartedly commit and take on the role. At times, particularly around exam periods, it's been hard to juggle my school work and assessments while still running the green team, JPIC and other initiatives. I usually put aside around 1 or 2 hours per week (though this can be more during busy social justice periods) to organise the teams or upcoming events, communicate and send/ respond to emails. COVID was also difficult as I had to reimagine aspects of the role such as how I was going to run the meetings with separated year groups.
After holding this position, what are some of the virtues and things that you have learnt that you will carry with you in the future?
Throughout my time as Social Justice Captain, I’ve learnt many valuable skills such as organisation, teamwork, and leadership. However, most importantly, I’ve reinforced my love for working towards social justice. This passion has encouraged me to look at jobs either centred around Social Justice or with aspects of social justice. Whatever I end up doing, I know that I always want to continue to strive for unjust issues in society and use my voice to speak up for what is wrong. I’ve realised that every little thing helps; even volunteering once a week can impact the lives of many. Overall, I am eternally grateful and blessed to have been Social Justice captain for the past year and I hope that I have been able to make some impact on the school and the community.