Dr Zeena Elton - Viva la ERC!

My story as an ERC staff member mainly concerns the first half of the Centre’s history. I have too many memories to recount here so I will just provide a snapshot of some of the poignant moments from my perspective. I have worn many hats at ERC, firstly as Co-ordinator of Research and later as Deputy Director, and also Acting Director (in 2007), before I left to undertake doctoral study. I have worked with amazing people in Australia and overseas as we forged relationships and partnerships with diverse communities, and together we travelled the long road of action for justice and human rights for people in Australia and across the globe.

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Aileen Crowe - The log fire

In those early days of the late 1990s the Edmund Rice Centre was like a log fire. The more it was stoked with ideas and actions the more alive it became. The more people involved, the warmer the atmosphere. I didn’t realise that this fire had only recently been lit when I first came to Sydney in 1996 and attended a Social Justice meeting at Balmain.

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Sajjad Versi - ERC and the Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency

Sajjad Versi, President, Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency

Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency, commonly known as HARDA, has a long and successful association with the Edmund Rice Centre since 2003.

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Trish and John Highfield - ERC, diversity be thy name

The impact of the Howard Liberal/National Government's decision to privatise operational control of Australian Immigration Detention facilities was becoming startinglingly obvious by the late 1990's. An American company – Wackenhut Corporation – through its Australian subsidary ACM was taking $100m a year as conditions for those in mandatory detention deteriorated. An ABC News report from Port Hedland showed the pitiful plight of very young detained children in the heat haze peering through razor wire.Trish, an early childhood professional, was appalled. Her inquiries to Government agencies led nowhere. Contact with social activist groups gave a better yield – she was guided to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney. There, Trish met traumatised children and their parents who had almost no contact from outside. Invited to a meeting at the Centre for Refugee Research at UNSW, she contributed to the roundtable discussion. Some good nuns passed on her observations to Sr Aileen Crowe and Zena Elton. Thus our association with the wonderful work of the ERC began. 

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Valda Dickinson - "Let's Talk"

The coming of a spiritual age must be preceded by the appearance of an increasing number of individuals who are no longer satisfied with the normal, intellectual, vital, and physical existence of the human race, but perceive that a greater revolution is the real goal of humanity and attempt to effect it in themselves and lead others to it.

- Teilhard de Chardin

It is almost as if Teilhard, when he wrote these words, had in mind the vision and work of the Edmund Rice Centre, its staff and wonderful group of volunteers and supporters.

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Ngareta Rossell - Happy twenty-first birthday

It would be a mistake to say that the Edmund Rice Centre and its colourful director Phil Glendenning choose to live dangerously. Yet, given Phil’s habit of turning up in some of the world’s trouble spots - Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and more latterly Kiribati and Tuvalu – it is self- evident that the down home tea and biscuits atmosphere of  Edmund Rice in Sydney’s West, belies the fierce sense of social justice that lies at the heart of its philosophy.

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John Falzon - Awareness, advocacy and action

I couldn’t tell you when I first met the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, sometime around the turn of the century I suspect. I feel like I’ve known Phil Glendenning and his comrades there since forever, the reason being that you instantly recognise the people who you could easily be fighting alongside in the trenches of our beautiful, collective struggle for a just society. 

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Colm Regan - A whispering in our hearts…

The image is wired to my brain.  October 1999, a group of five Australian Aboriginal leaders gather outside the gates of Buckingham Palace having just met with Queen Elizabeth to discuss the issue of rights and reconciliation.  In the lead up to the meeting, Patrick Dodson had invited youth representatives of ‘both sides’ in Northern Ireland (part of our Let’s Talk project) to join them at Buckingham Palace.  Nothing captures the relationship between our NGO 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World in Ireland and the Eddie Rice Centre in Australia better than that event.  

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