On Sunday March 27th 2022, approximately 220 people gathered at Encore Events Centre in Hoppers Crossing, for the 2021 Victorian Interfaith Networks Festival. The event was hosted by Melton Interfaith Network, Wyndham Interfaith Network, City of Melton, City of Wyndham and Wyndham Community & Education Centre, in partnership with the Faith Communities Council of Victoria.

encore events centreVenue of 2021 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference: Encore Events Centre, Hoppers Crossing

The day commenced with various faith and community stands on display (see below), a delicious lunch and an opportunity for people to network.

vinf standsFaith & Community Stands: Baha'i Community (left) & Indigenous Community (right)

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Faith Stands: Karen Buddhist Association (left) & 'Try on a Turban' Sikh community (right)

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Faith Stands: Religions for Peace Australia (left) & Interfaith table (right)

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Faith Stands: Ancestory (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) (left) & Islamic Community (right)

Proceedings began with a 'Welcome to Country' given by Uncle Shane Clarke from the Bunurong Land Council. This was followed by dignitary speeches from Councillor Peter Maynard (Mayor of City of Wyndham), Councillor Goran Kesic (Mayor of City of Melton), and Abiola Akinbiyi (Victorian Multicultural Commissioner). To view individual speeches, see video links below. A special thank you to Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, who managed to attend the earlier part of the day.

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 Abiola Akinbiyi, Victorian Multicultural Commission (left); Uncle Shane Clarke, Bunurong Land Council (right)
Councillor Peter Maynard, City of Wyndham(left); Councillor Goran Kesic, City of Melton (right)

This year’s keynote speech was deliverd by Dr Mario Peucker, Senior Research Fellow @ Victoria University, on the topic 'Social cohesion in a diversifying society'. Dr Peucker said: “Our neighbourhoods in Victoria are becoming increasingly diverse. These developments change our communities and the way we interact, bringing both new opportunities as well as potential conflicts. How can we all work together to manage these conflicts, embrace diversity and contribute to a cohesive society?”

A heart-felt response to the keynote speech was given by the Hon. Ms Joanne Ryan MP, ALP federal member for Lalor.

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Dr Mario Peucker, Victoria University (left); Hon Ms Joanne Ryan MP, ALP (right)

Upon the conclusion of dignitary speeches, an interactive workshop on gambling harm was conducted. This workshop focused on the high level of gambling activity among multicultural communities in the Western regions of Victoria, and what role people of faith can play in preventing or reducing gambling harm.

The festival included two outstanding performances from (i) the Tongan Christian choir from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and (ii) a Karen People Cultural Performance from the Karen Buddhist Community & AKP Cultural Association.

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Tongan Christian choir from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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 Karen People Cultural Performance: Karen Buddhist Community & AKP Cultural Association Inc.

In the closing ceremony, the chair of the Faith Communities Council of Victoria, Reverend Bhakta Dasa, thanked the City of Melton and the City of Wyndham for hosting this year's event, and announced the City of Boroondara as the 2022 hosts. Emma Wilkinson (City of Boroondara) and Dilnaz Billimoria (Boroondara Interfaith Network) were invited on to the stage, where they in turn invited all attendees to attend the 2022 Victorian Interfaith Networks Festival, which will be held on November 13th 2022 @ Swinburne University. Before closing proceedings, Reverend Bhakta Dasa thanked the Master of Ceremonies, Monica Raizada, for conducting an outstanding job.

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Rev Bhakta Dasa, Chair of Faith Communities Council of Victoria, thanks 2021 hosts - City of Melton & City of Wyndham (left);
Rev Bhakta Dasa congratulates 2022 hosts - City of Boroondara and Boroondara Interfaith Network (right)


Further Information on the 2021 Victorian Interfaith Networks Festival



Highlights from the 2021 Victorian Interfaith Networks Festival


Keynote Speaker Dr Mario Peucker: Social Cohesion in Diverse Communities


Performance by Tongan Choir: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints


 Click here to view speeches by: Abiola Akinbiyi, Councillor Peter Maynard, Councillor Goran Kesic

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