Activism and Hope
Mary Cameron joined ACRATH’s Victorian group two years ago and already she has made her mark. She pulled together the 2019 Christmas raffle that raised $1000 for anti-trafficking work. Mary’s current project, along with a team of ACRATHers is to host a prayer/reflection zoom gathering on 10th December to end ACRATH’s 16 Days Campaign.
The United Nations 16 days of activism against gender-based violence begins on 25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on 10th December – Human Rights Day. Human trafficking, a $150 billion global industry, is one of the greatest examples of violence against women and girls. Millions of women and girls are forced to marry, or to work in terrible conditions for little, or no, pay and no chance of an education.
Mary retired in 2018 after a career that included five years as Co-ordinator of Ministry for Pastoral Associates in the Melbourne Archdiocese and pastoral associate at Padua College on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula for the past 17 years. Through her work, and as a parishioner and member of the social justice group at St Thomas More parish Mt Eliza she came to know a lot about human trafficking through the parish and school’s social justice activities.
“It was in joining ACRATH that I came to a deeper awareness of the extent of human trafficking,” she said.
The numbers of people convinced that human trafficking is a problem ‘somewhere else’ surprises Mary. She’s become passionate about the anti-trafficking work and trying to bring about change that will improve the lives of people affected by human trafficking, whether it is the mistreatment of seasonal workers, forced marriage, those trafficked into sex work or those forced to produce goods for our use in Australia.
“Once I started coming to meetings I felt like I had found my place. ACRATH is a community where I have fitted in because of the shared passion for the work. Retiring from work left a void, but that has been filled by my ACRATH work,” Mary said. “We have a big focus on raising awareness which is so important because a lot of people are surprised to think we in Australia have any involvement in human trafficking. But I heard a report recently that said most of us have seen, touched or bought a product that has been made by human trafficking.”
Prayer and reflection gathering
Mary, along with ACRATH members Bernie Dobson, Claire Griffin csb and Rosa Ranieri, want to give people an opportunity to stop and reflect on the issue and pray for change. They have organised an event at 1pm on 10th December for anyone who is interested in joining in.
“It is Advent and we are inviting people to reflect on what is going on around us. Take the time to look deeper, beyond the tinsel and Christmas wrapping and slow down and wait in hope. We are not waiting in despair,” Mary said.
The prayer and reflection zoom gathering will be held at 1.00 – 1.30pm (Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra time) on Thursday 10th December 2020. To register in advance, please click here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rdeCrrz8iGtz5dB4Lgu68idqhS0AtQG_q
For more 16 Days Against Gender-based Violence Campaign information and resources click here.