On Sunday 22nd of November 2015, approximately 250 people from a diverse range of religious and spiritual backgrounds gathered at Kingston City Hall to participate in the 2015 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference (VINC). This annual conference aims to help build the capacity and sustainability of existing interfaith networks and to bring people up-to-date with current multifaith and interfaith matters.

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Conference began with a number of fun activities, including 'try on a turban', 'try on a hijab', a multifaith art exhibition, a multifaith book display, an interfaith globe, various arts & crafts from asylum seekers, and a delicious multicultural lunch.

Scott Harrison kicked off proceedings on the Wurlitzer theatre organ with two songs: 'Whole World in his hands' and 'Sweet Chariot'. This was followed by an acknoweldgement of country from Helen Barnards (Interfaith Centre of Melbourne) and a multifaith prayer from young adults.

Dignitary speeches followed from the Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Tamsin Beasley; the Victorian Multicultural Commissioner, Mr Chidambaram Srinivasan (Srini); the Chairperson of Faith Communities Council of Victoria, Murray Davies; and the Chairperson of Kingston Interfaith Council, Genevieve Marie.

Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference 2015(Left to right:) Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Tamsin Beasley - VMC Commissioner, Mr Chidambaram Srinivasan (Srini)
Chairperson of FCCV, Murray Davies - Chairperson of Kingston Interfaith Council, Genevieve Marie

Helen Heath OAM from the Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong presented an inspiring keynote speech on the 'The reality of living one's faith in today's Australian society'.

vinc2016-photo4(left) Scott Harrison on the Wurlitzer theatre organ; (right) Helen Heath OAM - Keynote Speaker

Four different workshops and plenary sessions were then held, with attendees participating in one of the following topics:

  • Mixed Identities, religious and civic - Can I be true to my religious identity and at the same time be a fair dinkum Australian?
  • Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Understanding the current debate and celebrating their courage and achievements
  • Understanding Head Coverings - Why women of faith wear scarves, wigs, hats and turbans
  • Skills for Conflict Resolution - Navigating your ways to resolve faith-based conflict

Each workshop ran approximately 80 minutes, with everyone regathering at the main hall to briefly discuss what took place in each workshop.

VINC 2015(left) Workshop 1: Mixed Identities, Religious and Civic; (right) Workshop 4: Skills for Conflict Resolution

VINC 2015(left) Workshop 2: Refugees and Asylum Seekers; (right) Workshop 3: Understanding Head Coverings

During the day people had the opportunity to view a multifaith art exhibition organised by the Kingston Interfaith Network. This annual exhibition, which encourages understanding and respect between peoples of all faith and cultures, this year reflected the theme of 'Reclaiming the Heart of Humanity'.

After some closing statements from Kingston Interfaith Network, the mantle (an indigenous welcome stick) was handed to Darebin Interfaith Council who will host next year's conference at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre on Sunday, November 13th.

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(left) Darebin Interfaith Committee members accept the message stick and to host the 2016 VINC;
(right) Multifaith Art Exhibition on the theme: Reclaiming the Heart of Humanity

The conference concluded with the a musical performance from the Zimbabwean Christian Choir with the cameo performance by the Kingston Interfaith Choir.

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Zimbabwean Christian Choir & Kingston Interfaith Choir sign: I am, You are, We are Australian

The conference presented an excellent opportunity for attendees to network with one another, and to be brought up-to-date with current multifaith and interfaith matters.

The Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference was organized by the Faith Communities Council of Victoria in association with City of Kingston and Kingston Interfaith Network, and support from the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

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