Caritas Australia was in Bendigo to raise awareness about Project Compassion on Pancake Day

The smell of freshly cooked pancakes wafted through Hargreaves Mall on Tuesday morning.

Caritas Australia was in Bendigo flipping pancakes to promote the public launch of its 2018 Project Compassion, which this year focuses on the future for youth around the world.

Caritas Australia coordinator north/north east Victoria Kerry Stone said cooking pancakes on Shrove Tuesday in Hargreaves Mall had become a tradition in Bendigo.

“Project Compassion runs for six weeks and each week we highlight a story about a young person who wouldn’t have had much hope for the future except for the program they’re now a part of with us,” Ms Stone said.

“We had nine schools attending the event with lots of students, so it gave us a great crowd, it is fantastic.”

“Because it is a tradition now, everyone knows to come down to the mall for pancakes.”

There was a cooking station set-up for hungry kids to get stuck into pancakes as well as senior students roving around Hargreaves Mall dishing them out to passers-by.

The event was attended by multiple schools from Bendigo and was welcomed by Caritas Australia Sandhurst director Fr Rom Hayes and Cr Andrea Metcalf from the City of Greater Bendigo.

The entertainment for the launch was provided by multiple school choirs, each singing a different song for the crowd. 

“All the songs they chose to sing reflected the message of the day, a message through song is really powerful,” Ms Stone said.

Caritas Australia choose pancakes because they relate to the Shrove Tuesday tradition of using up rich foods such as flour, milk, eggs and sugar before fasting begins for Lent.

“We want people to have their awareness raised about the work we do and how life-changing it is,” Ms Stone said.

“We would also like to thank the council. The COGB has the best council in Australia based on the support they provide us with.” 

“They provide us with the staging, the gazebos for shade, they can’t do enough for us. They are extraordinarily supportive, the staff also helped us pack up, they’re amazing.”

The project raised $11 million nationwide in 2017 and the north/north eastern Victoria region raised $535,000.

“Last year was a record and we can only hope to beat it this year,” Ms Stone said.

“When we all contribute together, what an amazing thing we do to support people that are less privileged."

Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion is the country’s largest fundraising event for aid & development and is held each year during Lent, the fasting period before Easter.