ACRATH’s Successful Visit to Federal Parliament

Deputy Speaker, Anna Burke, with Sr Noelene Simmons sm and Sr Joan Kennedy pbvm

Following on from their very successful visit to Federal Parliament ACRATH have released a Newsletter giving details of their visit.   The Newsletter includes references to ACRATH being acknowledged in Hansard during the lead up to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012 passing through the House of Representatives.

Download a copy of the Newsletter here.

Speaking for the Human Rights of Trafficked People

A group of women religious from around Australia, including a Marist Sister, will make their sixth annual pilgrimage to Canberra next week in a bid to influence policies affecting people trafficked into Australia.

The fifteen women, Catholic sisters and their colleagues, are all members of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH). They will spend a week (August 19-24) in Canberra speaking to Members of Parliament, Advisors, Embassy staff, departmental officials and Church leaders in their continuing endeavours to ensure trafficked people access their human rights.

For more information about their requests to Government click here.

Ministry with the Homeless

Srs Celina & Cathy

After completing their Novitiate Formation in the Philippines Srs Cathy and Celina made their First Profession as Marist Sisters in November 2011.  They are now continuing their formation in Australia.

As part of their ministry each week they spend time at two centres for the homeless.  In describing their experience at one of these centre Sr Celina writes: “One centre is mainly a drop-in centre. They also have a few rooms to cater for people who could be on medication or requiring counselling.  We go to this centre on a Thursday.  On this day a delicious dinner is served for everyone who comes including the volunteers.  After dinner Mass is celebrated by the priest who happens to be rostered for that week.  Our ministry is mainly being a presence among the people by being part of the community.  The ministry is challenging but it also brings us joy and is a very good experience for us as we continue our formation as young Marist Sisters.”

Sr Cathy describes their time at the second facility they visit.  “On Sundays we attend Mass with the men who are the clients at the centre. Then we serve morning tea and have conversations with the men over our cuppa. In the afternoon it is general Pastoral Care. This is a time when the men do whatever they want to –  computing, table tennis, Bingo, music, reading, sleeping, etc. We just keep an eye on them, over see things and if anyone wants to talk to us then we are there to listen. We find this ministry very challenging but also rewarding.”

Human Trafficking Awareness

Srs Noelene (Marist) & Genny (Ursuline)

Marist College Canberra held a Service Expo  in April.  Sr Noelene joined with another member of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) to set up an ACRATH stall at the Expo.  During the day over 1,000 students passed through the Expo.  A good number visited the ACRATH stall and engaged in conversation about the various forms of human trafficking taking place here in Australia.  Many of the students took postcards to send to chocolate companies to seek an end to child slavery in the cocoa industry in West Africa.

Against Trafficking in Humans

Sr Noelene

Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) recently held their Annual Conference and AGM in Melbourne. At this conference the Marist Sisters were represented by Sr Noelene Simmons. During the Conference participants reflected on the issues of human trafficking and how this can be combated in our world today.


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Child & Family Health Care

Sr Ruth with a Group of Arabic Women

Sr Ruth has spent many years working as a nurse in areas from midwifery through to aged care. Presently she works in the Child and Family Health area at CatholicCare in Campbelltown which is situated in the south west region of Sydney. Part of the mission of CatholicCare is to bring hope, justice and professional care to those on the margins. This fits very well with the mission of Marist Sisters. Ruth believes that as a Marist Sister what she does at work and the support she gives in her local area is very much doing the work of Mary.
In her daily work she meets families who, for various reasons, are having difficulties in caring for or relating to their children and in building a safe and happy family life. A number of the parents she works with have a mental illness, are struggling with drug and alcohol issues, have an intellectual disability, are dealing with the grief of having their children in foster care and the process of regaining custody, are separated or just find coping with the pressures of family life and caring for their children difficult.

Her work includes running in-service days on managing challenging behaviours and discipline strategies for foster carers and early childhood staff. As a Certified Instructor she teach Mental Health First Aid to professionals from government and non government organisations and to high school teachers in the area. Mental Health First Aid teaches a person to identify emerging mental health problems, informs them of available resources and suggests strategies for dealing with a mental health crisis.

As a Marist Sister, she lives in a community with two other sisters. The community tries to support families in the public housing estates in their local area, many of whom have mental health problems. These people are often isolated and alone and so the sisters offer a listening ear and refer them to other avenues of support where necessary.

Refugee support

Sr Grace at the House of Welcome

The House of Welcome in Carramar, a project of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council, supports refugees and asylum seekers during their time of transition into life in the Australian community. A number of Marist Sisters have offered their services at this centre over the years. In the photo at right Sr Grace can be seen with some refugee women from Kenya and Uganda during a recent visit to the House of Welcome from Jason Clare, Federal Member for Blaxland.

Sr Grace attends the ACRATH National Conference

On 11th – 13th February, Sr Grace attended the National Conference of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans). It was held at Holy Cross Centre in Templestowe, Victoria. Marist Sisters in the Sector of Australia have been involved in ACRATH over the last few years with a number of sisters taking part in forums and meetings in Sydney. The Sector has also contributed financially to ACRATH and the UTS Anti-Slavery Project, a group that works very closely with ACRATH. About twenty people participated in the National Conference, the majority being religious women. A new Executive Committee was elected. See ACRATH website: