On Friday, 10 June, six Year 10 students were invited to attend a celebratory luncheon at State Parliament in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the organisation Women and the Australian Church (WATAC). Formed in 1986 as a national project of the religious women and men of Australia, WATAC aims to unite all facets of the church on an inter-faith basis, with a particular focus on the role of women within Christian society. People from all over Australia had come to attend this event, including old members of WATAC, representatives of parliament, and school students.
When we arrived we were guided to a large room and were seated at elegant tables with fine crockery, accompanied by a menu consisting of dishes such as goat’s cheese and gruyere souffle as well as scotch fillet and roasted congo. These exotic meals were shortly followed by speeches from Trish and Vin Hindmarsh, co-founders of WATAC, both of whom discussed the luncheon theme – Mahatma Gandhi’s global call to “be the change you want to see.” Opening insights into the role of women within the Catholic Church, these speakers expressed to the audience how they believe they have made effective influences on the teachings of the Christian community throughout the duration of their campaign, in addition to how we can tend the green bough within our hearts. Trish herself has written to the Pope and several Australian bishops on numerous occasions, and had received responses outlining their interest in her efforts.
To finish the luncheon, a forum was conducted, where students and adults alike had the opportunity to ask impromptu questions about any topic relating to either WATAC’s work or Trish and Vin’s speeches. During this seminar, there was much discussion about gender equality within the church, including an emphasis on its future with reference to the changes it has embraced over time. As the majority of the attendees were old members of WATAC, they were particularly excited about our attendance, viewing us as potential leaders of this issue in time to come. Trish and Vin concluded the event with a lovely prayer written by John Marsden titled A Prayer for the Twenty-First Century, which spoke of and prayed for current issues prevalent within today’s society.
All six of us enjoyed this day, to say the least. Through spending time with women and men devoted to their beliefs, we felt encouraged to be more active members in our local parish, and to pursue gender equality throughout the church. It was a truly spiritually uplifting and enhancing experience, and we look forward to seeing the progress of WATAC in future years to come.
Alicia, Eloise, Georgia, Laura, Monique and Tiana
Year 10 Students