Who Should Go First?

The news this week about a possible vaccine for the Coronavirus was welcomed and brought hope that there is some light through this global pandemic. The sheer logistics of making this vaccine available to every Australian is enormous let alone every person on this planet and, in my view, raises questions about who may have access to the vaccine first and how. Australians value a society which is based on equity. It means that despite your background, personal or economic circumstances, people have access to total health support and care. I believe Australia has a world-class medical system, but it has its challenges and I am not confident how this vaccine might be available.

There is no question that during the last six months we have seen more and more people disenfranchised due to the consequences of this pandemic. Our Catholic Church has challenged our community to follow some basic principles of what we as Catholic communities stand for. The preferential option for the poor is one of our basic tenets of Catholic social action and social doctrine which guides us to build a healing world and a better future for all. The lived experience of how a community is visibly engaged with positive actions which support those who are disenfranchised or marginalised is critical.

Last week Pope Francis said: “Church teaching on giving priority to the wellbeing of the poor and marginalised is not a political or ideological choice; it lies at the very heart of the Gospel.” In addition, he said: “On the one hand, it is essential to find a cure for this terrible virus, which brought the world to its knees. On the other hand, we must also cure another virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalisation and the lack of protection for the weakest.”

In reflecting on these issues, these are the key take away messages for me. At a time when we are experiencing the effects of a global pandemic, it is critical to focus on the basic tenet of looking after the most vulnerable, the most marginalised and the poor. So who are these people who walk amongst us in the community? Despite the personal challenges I might have, I would place those of others ahead of my own. A well-known speaker on leadership Simon Sinek said: “Leaders eat last” referring to those in leadership showing an example that others may go first. I would say that we should all consider who should go first!

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

1 comment on “Who Should Go First?

  1. Wayne McGough

    We have become aware of those small communities along our borders that we treat a whistlestops but have an interrelated vibrancy of their own regardless of artificial lines on a map. South Australia is very dear to us and our premier who was quoted out of context by media to stir up a headline . The upside with continuing bans on overseas travel , is that Australians will explore their own country they take for granted . So from My Gsmbier to the Riverland to the Southern bales to the Hills which suffered so badly with the fires to Kangaroo Island , Adelaide Or Pirie , Augusta and Ceduna as welas Flinders Ranges the car is full of petrol waiting to come back because we are one country not 6 .
    Wayne McGough CCA


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