Edmund Rice Young School Leaders Vision the Future Together 

Young School Leaders from across the country recently gathered on Wadawurrung Country, at St Patrick’s College Ballarat, as part of the Edmund Rice Education Australia’s (EREA) Young Leaders’ Conference. Over 50 young people from 40 schools in almost every state and territory across Australia participated in the conference.

The theme of Conference was Voice and Agency. The Young Leaders explored an understanding of leadership from a Gospel and Edmund Rice perspective, and the importance of justice, Reconciliation, advocacy, service and global engagement.  They networked together as they reflected on their own personal journey of leadership and how to look after their own and their peers’ wellbeing. The delegates also had the opportunity to be the first group consulted as part of the mission direction and strategy for EREA going forward.  Throughout the gathering they engaged communally in prayer, liturgy and reflection.

The Young Leaders were also joined online by past Edmund Rice young leaders from South Africa and India, who shared their own experience of leading in their nation’s context. The Australian Young Leaders were invited to collaborate globally this year with other young leaders from across the 20 Countries where Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition operate.

The Young Leaders were also joined by Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird on Friday night, who shared both Grace and story with the delegates throughout the evening.

At the conclusion of the conference, the Young Leaders shared some of the following reflections:

“The relationships formed were invaluable, and it is incredible to meet so many people from around Australia just like myself.”

“The idea of serving others to create a better environment within my community.”

“The uniqueness of every student and the wide array of gifts, experiences and opportunities that they bring to the table is truly promising for the future that we will forge together.”

Andy Kuppe, EREA Victorian Schools CEO, shared, “The EREA Young Leaders Conference was a great opportunity for student leaders from every state and territory in Australia to gather and learn about leadership in a Catholic School. It was an inspiring experience of Catholic Social Teaching in action as they shared justice strategies, what current initiatives are working well in each school, hopes for the future and areas of challenge.”

Dr Liam Smith, EREA National Executive Director, shared, “These gatherings are at the heart of the EREA family of schools, as they give the opportunity for our people to reflect together about the heart of our educational mission – our spirituality and Charism. I am so proud of our young leaders and the vision and action that they have will bring to their school communities throughout 2024. We are in very good hands with their leadership this year. Thankyou to St Patrick’s College, Ballarat, EREA Victoria Schools, EREA staff and all our schools for their organisation and creativity in enabling this gathering to occur.”

EREA is a network of 55 schools in every state and territory of Australia. EREA schools are very diverse, comprising of flexible learning, primary and secondary, co-educational, boys, regional/rural, boarding and early learning centres.

EREA schools offer a Catholic education guided by the Charter for Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition.