News & Events

To Live Life to the Full: Mental health in Australia today

Social Justice Sunday will be celebrated on Sunday, 30 August 2020.

In the Social Justice Statement 
To Live Life to the Full: Mental health in Australia today, the Bishops welcome the deinstitutionalisation of mental health care in Australia. However, without adequately funded community mental health services, there is a gap in the system through which people continue to fall. Social determinants including poverty, living conditions, and personal security are significant contributors to mental ill-health. The Statement highlights the experience of First Nations people and communities, asylum seekers and refugees, people who are homeless and those who are in prison.

Yasmine Alwakal achieves 10th place in the World Individual and Public Speaking Competition

Yasmine Alwakal, Year 11 student and Head Girl at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta has taken the world by storm in the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Competition (WIDPSC) finishing in 10th place overall.

Performing in the Grand Finals last weekend via Zoom, Yasmine has achieved a remarkable result - the best result ever achieved by an OLMC student!

The Championships were due to be held in Shanghai, China in April, however, COVID-19 prevented the event from going ahead. Fortunately, the titles were rescheduled through Zoom from the 14-24 August.

Yasmine competed against approximately 60 of the best students from every corner the world that all qualified through the National Titles.

‘Considering the circumstances, this competition has been an extremely insightful experience that has enabled me the opportunity to challenge myself and compete in such a unique forum. In a time when so many competitions have come to a halt, I feel privileged to have the resources and opportunities to compete online. The competition enabled me to form friendships and connections with speakers from all around the world and strengthen my own public speaking abilities.’ said Yasmine.

WIDPSC requires students to interact and collaborate with like-minded peers from diverse and different schools, cultural backgrounds and countries. Each participant must compete in four different events: Debate, Impromptu Speaking, Persuasive or After Dinner Speaking and Interpretive Reading.

In her 10-minute Persuasive speech, Yasmine explored the unreliable nature of evidence.

An excerpt from the novel ‘Night Rainbow’, was chosen by Yasmine for her Interpretive reading. This focussed on the nature of grieving.

Two debates were live on Zoom, the first one about whether private schools should be forced to subsidise those students in need in their local area and the second about whether we should have a four-day working week.

For her first live impromptu speech, Yasmine chose ‘Outrage’ and looked at how we need to change the Australian image. The topic of ‘You’ll be caught’ was chosen for her second impromptu about the importance of monitoring the idea of truth in media.

Principal (Acting) Marie Wood of Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, said the College community is proud of the outstanding achievement of Yasmine. ‘Yasmine’s results can be attributed to her hard work, dedication and motivation. This event provided an avenue for Yasmine, not only to practise and test her oratorical skills, but to value the importance of the art of expression. Her results are a testament to Public Speaking and Debating at OLMC.’

Media Inquiries:
Allison McNally
Communications Officer
OLMC Parramatta 
Tel: (02)- 8838 1241

Mercy Works: Mercy Connect Perth Opening Up

This year, Mercy Connect Perth began the year like any other. Supporting 22 schools located mostly in Perth’s north-eastern and south-eastern suburbs. 62 volunteers were gearing up again to walk back through school gates to mentor refugee and asylum seeker students both new and old.

It was as the month of March was coming to an end, that Mercy Connect did too. The rapid onset on the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown volunteering across Australia.

In line with other states, Western Australia implemented strict measures to restrict movement in an aim to suppress the spread of COVID-19. This meant the closure of schools and the temporary closure of the Mercy Connect program in Perth.

Gradual improvements in the state’s level of virus transmission, gave the WA Department of Education the results needed to once again allow visitors into schools.

Volunteers have been able to enter schools since the 8th of June, however, many of them have made their own decisions about when they will return. Some chose to go back immediately while others have decided to wait until they are ready.

They were continually informed about the situation giving them the facts to make an educated decision, keeping their own safety their number one priority.

Volunteers have expressed their gratitude to our Coordinator, Jennifer Davies, who stayed in contact throughout these difficult times. They have shared statements of support and excitement as they begin again mentoring the students they had suddenly left behind back in March.

‘It’s wonderful to be back in the classroom. I missed the children a lot and they were all so excited and pleased to see me again.’ – Geraldine

‘I would love to resume as soon as my school would like to do so.’ – Janine

‘We have decided to start fresh in Term 3 giving time for the Principal to organise my assistance in the classroom.’ - Rose

Mercy Connect doesn’t only consist of in-school mentoring but also adult English Language classes for parents who are also refugees and asylum seekers. These classes are held at Koondoola Primary School where up to 15 parents attend sessions. They are assisted by three volunteers and our Coordinator, Jennifer, to improve their English language skills in weekly classes.

Now that these classes have resumed, Mercy Connect Perth is back up and running as it was before the sudden lockdown. While nothing is the same, it is comforting to know that
essential support services are able to continue assisting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

The Maritime World: Pope's Prayer Intention for August 2020

We are all invited to join with Pope Francis and his worldwide prayer network in praying this month's intention: The Maritime World

Let us pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.

The life of sailors or fishermen and their families is very difficult.
Sometimes they are victims of forced labor or are left behind in distant ports.
The competition of industrial fishing and the problem of pollution make their work even more complicated.
Without the people of the sea, many parts of the world would starve.
Let us pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.
—Pope Francis, August 2020

We invite you to post a prayer or reflection in our prayer space

Refugee Emergency in Papua New Guinea

Surrounded by escalating violence and civil unrest, many West Papuans fearing for their lives in November last year were forced to flee Indonesia and cross the Fly River into Papua New Guinea.

A makeshift refugee camp was built on Monfort Catholic Mission ground when these refugees began arriving. Some were resettled into the village of Iowara before the State of Emergency was declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

There still remains, however 140 people living in poor conditions with basic shelter and little access to clean water or sanitation. Steven Dude, Mercy Works Coordinator in Kiunga, aware of their plight, visited the camp in early June to talk with the community and listen to their needs.

Steven found the situation in the camp to be dire. Families described how they fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and were in desperate need of basic assistance. The risk of infection and disease is high and there is barely enough food to survive.

Mercy Works has responded with emergency funding for food and clothing. In addition, working tools have been provided to grow vegetables to feed themselves and as a means of growing produce to sell.