A certified Fair Trade university
The University of Melbourne has been certified Fair Trade, which means it will now stock Fair Trade tea, coffee, chocolate and clothing, all developed within ethical guidelines. The system works in partnership with farmers to provide fairer prices, better terms of trade and additional funds for business and community development.
The development is thanks to the work of two students - the presidents of the University’s student World Vision and Oxfam groups, Hamish McKenzie and Kerrie Haria Adams.
World Vision Chief Executive Tim Costello and Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director Andrew Hewett helped launch the University’s accreditation by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ).
Mr Costello congratulated Melbourne. “Fair Trade empowers consumers to make choices that change lives for the better.
“It gives millions of people in poor communities the opportunity to participate in the global economy on just terms. For all of us, it underlines the fact that in our everyday lives, we have the power to make ethical decisions,” he said.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis says the accreditation signalled the University community’s fair trade commitment, which fitted with its broader actions in learning and teaching, research and engagement.
“Our community is following the lead of several of our students in supporting this initiative. Led by that passion for improvement, we are proud to be called a Fair Trade university.”
Haria Adams says fair trade certification was an obvious way Melbourne could do something good for society.
“Universities are known for enacting and encouraging societal change. Fair Trade certification is a way Melbourne can encourage its staff and students to become informed world citizens.”
Ms Adams is a co-founder and former President of the University’s Oxfam group, and a final-year Bachelor of Arts student, completing a double major in Sociology and Politics and International Studies.
She says she became interested in volunteering for organisations with a strong social justice focus because both her parents were involved in social justice issues, though in different ways.
“I don’t want the next generation to face discrimination, something my parents’ generation was forced to deal with. It’s only through active involvement in anti-discrimination that you can hope to achieve this.
“My own diverse background and my exposure to absolute poverty through travel have given me invaluable insight into how inequality affects people.
“Being a mixed-race woman in a world often dominated by white men has personally exposed me to some forms of discrimination and forced me to stand up for what I believe.
“I want to make sure everyone is given this same opportunity, to ensure those in a position to change the status quo are aware of what they can do, and why it’s imperative they act.”
Hamish McKenzie is President of the University’s chapter of World Vision. He is completing his Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology and Social Theory; Politics and International Studies) and Diploma in Languages (French). He plans to undertake post-graduate study in Anthropology.
Mr McKenzie says young people could be powerful agents of change. “We can be destructive when we don’t know what we’re doing. That’s why the expertise, experience and support of the world’s leading development and advocacy practitioners is so central for me.”
Mr McKenzie said being involved in the University’s Fair Trade certification helped him work out where his passions lie and where he could be the most effective.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that to solve the massive and interlinked crises which loom in areas like the environment, population control, and food security, cross-cultural communication is going to be paramount.
“If I can play a part in that process, well that’d be just great.”