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A voice for the voiceless

A voice for the voiceless

25 September 2016

Sydney Hirt, from the Freedom Partnership, is passionate about fighting for justice in the world.

By Simone Worthing

Today is The Salvation Army’s International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking. Sydney Hirt, the Social Media Officer for The Salvation Army’s Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery, shares why she is passionate about this devastating global scourge and, as a follower of Jesus, what drives her to continue striving for justice in the world.

“I am passionate about social justice and following the call of Jesus,” Sydney said. “I strongly believe that as the Church, as disciples and followers of Christ, we are called to be on the side of the poor, oppressed and marginalised. We are called to be abolitionists, agents of redemption and to set the captives free. This message is at the heart of the gospel and speaks to me deeply. Such a big part of who I am is to work for justice in the world.”

The horror of slavery, and its global scale and prevalence as one of the largest and fastest-growing human rights abuses, impacted Sydney, compelling her to want to make a difference in this area. This motivation is a driving force behind her work, ministry and lifestyle. “I want people to know that slavery and trafficking is still a huge problem today and it’s happening in Australia,” she said. “It can affect everyone, but what speaks to me though, is that trafficking and slavery primarily target vulnerable people.”

Sydney sees her work as a vocation, a calling. “For me, it’s like Frederick Buechner’s definition of vocation – a place where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest needs.”

Volunteering with different anti-trafficking organisations in the Red Light District of Amsterdam, and in Northern Thailand, is part of Sydney’s background, as well as working in the Australian anti-slavery space since 2011. She now leads the development of the Freedom Partnership team’s social media strategy and ensures that the work of the Partnership is effectively shared online to inspire the community’s support. “I love being part of such a passionate, experienced and professional team,” she said. “The Partnership is about activism, advocacy, awareness-raising, and bringing change.”

Sydney at work for the Freedom Partnership, taking photos on her phone for social media at the recent Salvation Army Aged Care Plus Walkathon. 

Sydney grew up in the Uniting Church and today is part of the Leichhardt Uniting Church. “This vibrant community love, support and nourish me in day-to-day life and keep me accountable,” she said. “We carry each other, as part of the Body of Christ. This helps sustain me when times are tough. I am passionate about building the Church – not just taking from it, but building it, so that people will come to know God’s love for them and the whole the world.”

Sydney is also passionate that the Church be at the forefront of issues where the vulnerable are exploited and systematically unable to access their basic human rights. “We should be advocating for the neediest in the world, holding our politicians accountable,” she said. “We should be speaking out and offering sanctuary to people in need. It’s important for the Church to work together to make a difference in the world.

“If not us, then who? If we take our discipleship seriously we should feel compelled to speak out about injustice – including the exploited and enslaved. It’s just too easy to get caught up in looking out for ourselves.

“My hope is that the Church increases its activities in these issues and increases its advocacy on behalf of those who don’t have a voice. This is staying true to the costly path of discipleship.”

Sydney is looking forward to affecting greater change through the Freedom Partnership into the future. And every person can help play a part in this whether it’s through making a donation, volunteering or raising awareness in their own communities. Together, we can make a difference.

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