Empowering school students

Courage to Care extends across Victoria

"We are at a pivotal point in history ... we have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of young people,” said Courage to Care CEO Mike Zervos.

Courage to Care increases its reach in Victoria.
Courage to Care increases its reach in Victoria.

In the face of escalating hate speech and discrimination, Courage to Care launches an ambitious aim to educate and empower an additional 20,000 students across Victoria.

The not-for-profit organisation recently announced its annual fundraising appeal and is looking to the community to help raise $100,000.

The education charity will build on visits to more than 120 schools across the state, ranging from Moe to Mildura, as it delivers on its mission to create a generation of upstanders against racism, antisemitism, discrimination and bullying.

“We are at a pivotal point in history, by reaching out to schools in every corner of Victoria, we have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of young people and shape a more inclusive future,” said Courage to Care CEO Mike Zervos.

The Courage to Care volunteers share their message at Spring Gully Primary School in Bendigo

“Over coming weeks our volunteers are committed to educating students in Red Hill, Essendon, Rowville, Aspendale, Prahran, Geelong, Kerang, Cohuna, Cranbourne and Traralgon.

“By going into schools right across the state, including regional and rural areas, we interact with students from all backgrounds and can make a real difference. Our volunteers will challenge students to consider their behaviour and language, emphasising the dangers of all forms of hate speech.

“Our goal is to empower our future leaders to speak out against injustice and become advocates for tolerance in their communities,” Zervos explained.

The result is tangible, with 86 per cent of students demonstrating an increase in upstander behaviour following their participation in Courage to Care’s upstander programs.

Teacher and student feedback also indicates that participants leave the sessions with valuable insights.

A year 8 teacher at McKinnon Secondary College described the program as providing “crucial learnings and actionable steps for our future leaders and upstanders”.

This sentiment was echoed by a year 8 student from Oberon High School, who noted, “If one voice has the courage to speak up, it can change the lives of many.”

Holocaust survivor and Courage to Care volunteer Peter Gasper shares his story of survival with students across the state. He said the Holocaust was the result of people standing by and not speaking up.

“The Holocaust didn’t start with gas chambers, murders and executions. It started with stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination and hate speech,” he said.

Racism and hate speech have surged to unprecedented levels in Australia, with reports of serious antisemitic incidents increasing by a staggering 738 per cent since October 7, and antisemitism on social media increasing at least five-fold.

For more information and to donate visit couragetocare.org.au/home

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