The MercyCare Schools Program was implemented in 2014 and has seen the organisation establish strong relationships and partnerships with Catholic Colleges in Western Australia.
Members of our team, including our Schools Liaison Officer work in partnership with students, teachers, service coordinators and principals to assist students from year 10 through to tertiary education to develop an interest and commitment to service learning and social justice. This interest is developed when students complete service learning placements, which MercyCare offer at several of our sites across the metropolitan area.
It is through these placements that we as an organisation are able to develop a coordinated program of collaborative and mutually beneficial activities and partnerships between MercyCare and Catholic Colleges. In the next 12 months our focus will be on deepening our existing relationship with Catholic Colleges, implementing fundraising opportunities and helping young people develop an ongoing commitment to social justice.
What is Service Learning?
Service Learning is an opportunity to put your faith into action and serve the needs of others in the community. It lies at the heart of the work started by Catherine McAuley and the continuing Mercy tradition. This service experience enriches the lives of others and promotes a sense of social responsibility, equity and social justice. It is an opportunity to make a difference through the knowledge, skills and values you learn at school.
Here are some examples of recent service learning activities:
Link to the Curriculum
Not only can MercyCare assist in developing activities to align with the schools core curriculum, but we can also provide students with the necessary platforms to further enhance and develop in the seven general capabilities outlined in the Australian Curriculum. These capabilities incorporate knowledge, skills and behaviours that will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century. In particular, what we do at MercyCare would develop student’s ethical and intercultural understanding, allowing them to engage with more complex issues including human rights and responsibilities, environmental issues and global justice. These are all issues that students are likely to encounter in the future. Through completing a Service Learning placement at MercyCare, students are also allowing themselves the opportunity to build on and enhance their personal and social outlook on life and to develop an awareness of the influence that their values and behaviours have on others.
The Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) recognises that ethical understanding assists students to become ‘confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens’. It does this through fostering the development of ‘personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience, empathy and respect for others’, and the capacity to act with ethical integrity (MCEETYA, pp. 8–9).
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) recognises the fundamental role that education plays in building a society that is ‘cohesive and culturally diverse, and that values Australia’s Indigenous cultures’ (MCEETYA, p. 4). Intercultural understanding addresses this role, developing students who are active and informed citizens with an appreciation of Australia’s social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and the ability to relate to and communicate across cultures at local, regional and global levels.