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A clear highlight of Friday morning’s sessions at the national Catholic social services conference, Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion, held in Melbourne from 26-28 February, was the panel of young leaders of Catholic organisations who gave a fresh perspective to the notion of a ‘way forward in mission’.
The roll-out of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards for the protection of children, as presented by CEO of Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL) Sheree Limbrick at the Friday morning session of Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion, a national conference for those working in Catholic social services, was an interesting and topical subject. 
"Taking the side of impoverished and disenfranchised people is not an option for Gospel-inspired organisations. It is a mainstay of the mission," said Francis Sullivan, former CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council for the opening keynote address of the biennial Catholic Social Services national conference, ‘Serving communities with courage and compassion’.

More than 200 community leaders gathered for the three-day conference at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne, which seeks to discuss a range of key issues facing society and the Catholic service sector, and explore new ways for the sector to address social challenges and create a more just society.

The Australian community is facing the challenge of recovering from a summer of natural disasters ― fires, floods and drought. Many Catholic agencies have been involved in providing relief to affected communities. At the same time, the Australian Catholic Bishops ConferenceCatholic Religious AustraliaCatholic Social Services Australia and the National Catholic Education Commission have moved to establish a new national collaboration called Catholic Emergency Relief Australia (CERA). It will serve as a coordination point for Catholic agencies responding to natural disasters now and in the future. Other Catholic organisations are expected to join the collaboration soon.

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