Wise Women Support ACRATH

Dr Eleanor Flynn

Women’s Wisdom in the Church (*WWITCH ), a group of Catholic and Anglican women founded by Dr Claire Renkin and Dr Eleanor Flynn in 2018, is an ACRATH donor. Eleanor, the group’s media officer, explained why WWITCH supports ACRATH’s work.

  • When did you first learn about the work of ACRATH?
    Women’s Wisdom in the Church (WWITCH) is a group of mainly Catholic women who meet regularly to discuss women’s place in the Church. Many of our members had heard about ACRATH from various sources but particularly those in the Brunswick and Moreland community were aware of Sister Therese Power rsm and her work in ACRATH so we invited her to come and talk to us about ACRATH and its mission.
  • Your organisation has donated money recently to ACRATH. There must be many demands on your resources, what motivated your organisation to make this donation to ACRATH?
    After Sister Therese’s presentation we were much more aware of the work of ACRATH and the need for funds to continue the work. We don’t have a regular source of funds, but we were able to provide a donation because of money remaining from our evening presenting Sister Joan Chittister osb in May 2022.
  • Catholic organisations and women religious have worked to combat human trafficking globally in areas where they live and work. Do you think here in Australia we have a sense of the presence of human trafficking?
    Sadly, I don’t think many Australians are aware of the magnitude of human trafficking or the suffering it causes, particularly for vulnerable women. We know that many Catholic organisations, especially women religious, are working to combat human trafficking in Australia and across the world. I am aware that the ambassadors to the Vatican have also been involved in this work for many years, especially those from Australia.
  • Your work must have taken you far and wide; have you encountered people affected by human trafficking?
    I remember a conversation with an English friend last year about the possibility that the young woman who had recently done her nails might have been trafficked. My friend who is a police chaplain considered the woman’s story was very concerning and she seemed traumatised by her experiences. I’m also aware of the issue of forced marriages and dowries in some cultural groups in the world including Australia, as a previous colleague works in that area.  I haven’t personally been aware that someone I’ve been in contact with might have been trafficked. Since our discussion about ACRATH at our WWITCH meeting I have been considering the possibility much more.
  • Human trafficking is hidden in plain sight – forced marriage, forced labour, tainted supply chains – it can sometimes seem hopeless – how do you find hope in the face of suffering?
    Like all Christians I find hope in the love of God for all God’s people, and in the knowledge that many of God’s people are working hard to combat the suffering and trauma of trafficking. All of us can support those working in the area as well as raising awareness of the issue with the wider public. We need to remind our politicians that there are actions they could take to help stamp out trafficking in all its forms.
  • What would you say to other people considering making a donation to ACRATH?
    I would commend ACRATH to anyone thinking of donating to a group which not only raises awareness of the problem but seeks in many practical ways to assist vulnerable people caught up in trafficking. ACRATH provides clear information about the types of trafficking, the size of the problem, and what they are doing to combat the issue and to support the victims.

*Dr Eleanor Flynn said WWITCH “came together because we were appalled at the very poor response of the Australian Bishops to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  We provided submissions to the Plenary Council, the Synod on Synodality and collaborated with other members of ACCCR (Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform) in webinars. In 2022 we organised the visit of Joan Chittister osb to Australia. We are organising an ecumenical evensong liturgy at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Sunday September 3, 2023 at 4 pm to celebrate the feast of St Phoebe, the first deacon.