Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Thoughts from John Pascoe AO CVO

When the Chief Federal Magistrate of Australia, Mr John Pascoe AO CVO, returned to Warrane a decade after his first visit, he encourage residents to spend their lives in the service of others.

Speaking on August 17, he paid tribute to Warrane and the first head of Opus Dei in Australia, Monsignor John Masso, who accompanied him on his first visit.

“I think Warrane is a great institution,” he said. “The first time I visited the College I was in the company of Fr John Masso. He was a truly great man, I think. He spent most of his life in the service of other people. He was the happiest and most contented of people – a fine example of those who spend a good part of their lives in the service of their fellow man.

“He always radiated joy and optimism and gave good advice, but was very demanding. He sought to find holiness and meaning in life at every moment of every day. It’s an attitude that I commend very strongly to you.”

Mr Pascoe who is head of the the largest federal court in Australia and former Deputy Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, said that one of the things he sees every day in court is the tendency to “trivialise our lives in entertainment and looking for things to do, rather than concentrating on what life is really about”.

Since he graduated from the Australian National University, Mr Pascoe’s professional experience has been extensive. He has held many senior positions in government and business, including Chairman and CEO of George Weston Foods, Chairman of Centrelink, Deputy Chairman of Aristocrat Leisure Limited and Managing Director of the Insurance and Risk Management Division of Phillips Fox. He has served on corporate boards, including Qantas, is a member of the board of directors of the International Award Association (which operates the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme), the New South Wales Cancer Council, The Sydney Opera House Trust, and The Royal Alexandria Hospital for Children.

During his talk, he gave residents an insight into the growing problem of people trafficking around the world. He said that although many people think that slavery has been abolished, it is “alive and well and going on around us every day”.

He said there was a particularly lucrative trade in unborn babies that were moved while still in their pregnant mothers’ wombs so that they could be trafficked after birth- a trade that was growing because traffickers realised that there was “less spoilage” involved. The going rate for male children in one trafficking ring was around $350,000 and $250,000 for females.

He said some of the children went to illegal adoption operations, others may be used in “snuff movies or for pornography and don’t live a long time”.

In cases where they were adopted out, they tended to go to people who could not adopt by lawful means because they were either too old or considered unsuitable parents.

“There is no regulation,” he said, “so the children may end up in the hands of the highest bidder.”

There were many other forms of human trafficking, including the trade in able-bodied young men from Eastern Europe who were sold into “agricultural servitude”, and child sex trafficking, which was a major problem in Asia.

“These are really big issues,” he said.

Mr Pascoe said he was very concerned about the breakdown of marriage in countries like Australia and the high number of children who grow up in single parent households. Growing up for these children, he said, can be “really, really difficult.” The problem of social alienation compounded by the trend of “generations of families living on welfare”. Mr Pascoe told residents that they had the opportunity to achieve things that his generation had been “absolutely incapable of achieving”.

“The future of the world is yours…” he said. “Live your lives bravely, giving your life true meaning by spending time in the service of others.”

[Warrane College offers more than just accommodation to students at UNSW: Details of other guest speakers are available here]