Fair Trade accreditation places Flinders among Australia’s most ethical universities

Flinders Fair Trade Collective member Naomi Crosby with Gourav Chopra, owner of Cafe Bon Voyage at Flinders University.

Flinders University has become one of just nine Australian universities to receive Fair Trade accreditation from the Fair Trade Communities program.

The announcement comes after the program was identified by students as a key opportunity for Flinders to demonstrate its support of sustainable food and beverage.

The Flinders Fair Trade Collective (FFTC) worked in collaboration with Flinders’ Buildings and Property Division to submit an application, which was accepted and confirmed following the passing of a Flinders University Council motion supporting Fair Trade.

Fairtrade coffee is offered in a majority of on-campus retail outlets along with a number of other product lines, including Fairtrade chocolate.

All tea purchased centrally by the University and stocked in kitchenettes and staff rooms is Fairtrade, and a coffee option is currently being investigated.

The Flinders Fair Trade Collective has been driving awareness and support of Fair Trade on campus through fortnightly events and promotions, including a stall at O-week and Open Day, and other activities in Fair Trade fortnight (May) and Anti-poverty Week (October). The group has also been promoting Fair Trade through social media.

FFTC member Naomi Crosby said the accreditation showed that the Fair Trade movement was growing, and that the move acknowledged its important role in striving for global equality.

“It is about acknowledging we have many privileges in Australia and about nurturing people in other countries who are not so privileged by supporting and celebrating their talents and hard work,” said Ms Crosby.

FFTC founding member Will Mezner said Flinders was leading by example and standing in solidarity with some of the world’s poorest communities.

“It’s not enough to teach ethical practice to students,” said Mr Mezner. “A socially conscious university like Flinders has to lead by example.

“By listening to staff and students and embracing Fair Trade accreditation, Flinders University shows it is a leading Australian university not afraid to stand in solidarity with some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“Flinders University’s ethical leadership sets it apart as not just a world-class university, but a genuine leader in Australian education.”

Flinders University Student Association’s Environment Officer, Ali Roush, said the accreditation was a “logical step in the University’s ethical responsibility”.

Momentum towards an all of university Fair Trade accreditation has been building steadily since Flinders’ Student Council passed a resolution in support of the move in June 2016.

Since the inception of the Fair Trade Communities program, eight Australian Universities have been accredited, including the University of Adelaide, RMIT University, the University of Western Australia, the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, Monash University, Macquarie University, and Deakin University.

To maintain Fair Trade accreditation, Flinders must submit an annual report to the Fair Trade association, continue to hold awareness events on campus and pay an annual fee.

Development of governance arrangements for Fair Trade accreditation will be jointly managed by Flinders Fair Trade Collective and Buildings and Property, under the umbrella of the University’s Environmental Sustainability program.

Flinders University’s Sustainability Officer, Mathew Jeffrey, said University Council had enthusiastically embraced the initiative and that the University was excited to confirm its place among Australia’s most ethical universities.

“Through Flinders University’s commitment to Fair Trade and our work with FFTC and FUSA on the accreditation process, we have shown that we are engaged with and supportive of issues that our students care about,” said Mr Jeffrey.

“This accreditation, in Flinders’ 50th year, demonstrates we remain as committed to working towards equality of opportunity for communities not just in Australia, but also worldwide.”

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