On Sunday November 13th, over 300 people gathered at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre in Preston for the 2016 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference, hosted by the City of Darebin and Darebin Interfaith Council in association with the Faith Communities Council of Victoria.

This year’s keynote speech was on the topic of ‘Faith and Social Inclusion’ – can a faith community justify exclusion? Can a faith community hold opposing beliefs in tension but still foster a sense of belonging? Are factions and community divisions the only way forward?

Keynote speaker was Reverend Matt Glover, Executive Officer of Spiritual Care Australia and Director of MGA Counselling. Matt spoke of his own experience of discrimination against people of the LGBTIQ community and the harm it causes to those caught in the middle of these debates.

Statement concerning People with Disability was read by Susan Stork-Finlay recognising the importance of people with disabilities having equal opportunity to participate in the life of Victorian faith communities. And that such participation encourages people’s gifts and presence to be welcomed in a spirit of mutuality and embrace.

A wonderful Welcome to Country was given by Senior Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson followed by short dignitary speeches from Murray Davies, Chairperson of the Faith Communities Council of Victoria; Katrina Knox, Director of Community Development, City of Darebin; and Mimmie Claudine Ngum Chi Watts, Victorian Multicultural Commissioner. MC for the day was Judeline Wadhwani, member of the Darebin Interfaith Council.

dignitaries(left to right) Senior Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson; Reverend Matt Glover, Executive Officer of Spiritual Care Australia; Mimmie Claudine Ngum Chi Watts, Victorian Multicultural Commissioner.

theatre(left ro right) MC Judeline Wadhwani, Darebin Interfaith Council; Katrina Knox, Director of Community Development, City of Darebin; Sukhjit Khalsa, spoken word poetry; Susan Stork-Finlay, Uniting Church Synod of Vic and Tas; Murray Davies, Chairperson of the Faith Communities Council of Victoria

The day included faith and community stands, art exhibitions, delicious multicultural food provided by the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre Catering, spoken word poetry, and a number of workshops people could attend and participate in.

conference-stands2

faith-stands1

faith-stands2

community-stands-vinc

Workshops offered were:
1.    Faith, Compassion and Justice
2.    Voice of Youth: Faith, Interfaith and Multiculturalism
3.    Faith, Sexuality and Gender Diversity
4.    ‘Say NO to Racism’ Bystander Training

workshop1Workshop 1 Panellists: Faith, Compassion and Justice

 

workshop2-panellistsWorkshop 2 Panellists: Voices of Youth - Faith, Interfaith and Multiculturalism

 

workshop3Workshop 3 Panellists: Faith, Sexuality and Gender Diversity

At the conclusion of the day, honourary recognitions were given to Sheikh Fehmi Imam and Revererend Ian Smith for their contribution to interfaith dialogue and community harmony within the City of Darebin and surrounding areas.

Finally, the City of Greater Bendigo was announced as the host of the 2017 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference, with Monsignor Frank Marriott (chair of Bendigo Interfaith Council) inviting people to spend a weekend in the City of Bendigo around the 12th of November 2017.

For further information on the 2016 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference (photos, program booklet, organisations represented, survey-results) see summary below.

Sandy Kouroupidis
Faith Communities Council of Victoria | Multifaith Officer

FCCV would like to acknowledge the following event sponsors: City of Darebin, Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) and Northern Interfaith Intercultural Network (NIIN).

 

Further information on the 2016 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference

  Click on video below to view photo gallery (photos taken by Alfred Zahra)

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