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 "We are not all born equal. Circumstances not of our own making factor heavily in the opportunity and quality of life we lead" argued Joe Zabar, Director of Strategic Operations and Economic Policy at Catholic Social Services Australia. Joe led a discussion at the recent national Catholic social services conference, Hearing Healing Hope, held in Melbourne from 21-23 February on the topic 'Economics for a Flourishing Society'.
The final day of Hearing, Healing, Hope commenced early on the Friday (23 February) with a working breakfast to discuss Australia's upcoming Plenary 2020 Council with facilitator Lana Turvey Collins. This was followed by a plenary on responding to abuse, and ensuring safety and dedication to service led by Maria Harries AM, Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia's board, Robert Fitzgerald (who was one of the Commissioners on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for five years) and Sheree Limbrick, the recently appointed Chief Executive Office of Catholic Standards Ltd. To close, Frank Brennan SJ AO led a masterclass on Pope Francis and Human Rights: Moving Justice and Solidarity from the dictionary to the workshop of Catholic social services.
On the first full day of the national Catholic social services conference, Hearing Healing Hope, more than 200 participants joined in an afternoon series of workshops addressing the National Disability Insurance Scheme, governance issues, protection of vulnerable clients, preventing family violence, increasing support for asylum seekers and recently arrived communities, social housing, parish engagement, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander empowerment and effective advocacy of public policy. This was followed by the conference Mass and dinner, with eminent Australian broadcaster and journalist, Geraldine Doogue, presenting the Mary MacKillop Oration. In her address, Geraldine challenged and inspired us to reflect on how, and where we can find hope during difficult times.
 
 
More than 200 Catholic and community leaders gathered in East Melbourne on Thursday 22 February for an opening keynote address by Phil Glendenning AM to launch the first day of the Catholic Social Services national conference, 'Hearing, Healing and Hope'. This was followed by a forum addressing the topic, 'Economics for a Flourishing Society'. View all the photos, here.
The 2018 national Catholic social services conference, Hearing Healing Hope, was very fortunate to start with a team of experts encouraging us to consider what it would mean have a healthy earth and a flourishing society. Former director of Catholic Earthcare Australia Jacqui Remond unpacked the heart of the message of Pope Francis' Laudato Si saying, "We can no longer look after the social and think someone else is looking after the ecological."
Social service organisations are an outstanding example of the Catholic church in action in Australia. However, as necessary as their services are, the challenges our Catholic Social Service agencies are facing are building writes Denis Fitzgerald, executive director of Catholic Social Services Victoria.
The Council of Catholic Social Services Victoria recently reviewed our strategic plan and identified priorities for the coming year. These include policy and advocacy to advance outcomes for people who are disadvantaged and vulnerable, and prevention and responding to child abuse within the Catholic Church and member organisations.
Read the strategic plan (2017-2019), here.
The final report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, is now being absorbed. 

As a sector in the service of the Gospel imperatives of loving service and work for justice, our response must include renewed commitment to victims, to protection of children and vulnerable people, and to the promotion of human flourishing in all the darker corners of our society.
Catholic Social Services Victoria recently hosted a day of reflection and engagement with the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching in the light of Laudato Si by Pope Francis. Eighteen participants from as far as Brisbane, Bairnsdale, Warrnambool and Wangaratta joined Melbourne colleagues at St. Joseph’s By The Sea, Williamstown on Tuesday 27 November for this final Catholic Social Teaching workshop for 2017.
 Victoria’s strong economy provides an opportunity to invest in services that help to build a community that is safe, equitable and compassionate; where all Victorians share in the State’s prosperity.  

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