Organised by: Brisbane City Council
Contact: Sumathy Selvamanickam, 266 George Street, Brisbane Square QLD 4000
Tel: (07) 3403 4051
Funded by: Multicultural Affairs Queensland
Time period of the initiative: Five one-off sessions in five regions within the Council in 2007
Number of participants involved: Varied from 15-20 in some regions to larger crowds in others.
Target Group: Both Muslims and Non-Muslims.
Project Description: The Brisbane City Council Muslim community discussion forums grew out a number of smaller projects that were initiated after awareness of tensions between Muslim and Non-Muslim communities in wider Brisbane, especially in the aftermath of overseas terrorist attacks. Some of the earlier projects which informed the development of the current project are 'Coping in a New World', 'It’s not all Black and White: An African Story', and 'Getting to know Brisbane' all of which have aimed to help immigrants and refugees adjust to life in Brisbane.
Recently, a forum 'Islam Unveiled' was held, which was mainly a profile of Islamic women and aimed at encouraging open discussion. It had such a good response that the Council encouraged to apply for funding through Multicultural Affairs Queensland. They received $5000 and developed a 5-pronged approach project, with initiatives in the east, west, and north, central and south of Brisbane. All these projects were a 'one off' and was organised after discussions with key Muslim organisations in the region. Part of all these projects involved building relations with community leaders and groups. The discussion forums took various forms in different regions:
South: Women’s discussion group involving a local community centre and participants from both Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds. East: Morning tea between Muslim customers and Coles’ employees to encourage understanding between them, especially with regards to their wearing of the Hijab. West: Cross-cultural dialogue on Islam between high school girls from three schools in the Western suburbs. North: Organised a Muslim panel of speakers in conjunction with annual Harvest Festival. Central: Post-Eid festival celebration with Muslims and Christians also included a Muslim-Christian panel of speakers.
Successes and challenges: Very well received by the participants and public. Succeeded in changing prevalent stereotypes about Islam and Muslim among the participants. Some of the involved groups expressed interest to continue organising such events.
What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Feedback evaluation forms were given out at some of the events, all of which received overwhelmingly positive response. Many of the attendees also provided positive direct feedback immediately after the events.
Initiative Title: Moreland Interfaith Gathering/Network
Organised by: Moreland City Council
Contact: Eugenia Grammatikakis, Locked Bag 10, Moreland 3058
Ph: (03) 92401225
Funded by: Self-funded
Time period of the initiative: Bimonthly, 12 years in operation
Number of participants involved: On average, 10-15
Target Group: Key faith leaders in the community
Project Description: Moreland has a culturally and linguistically diverse population with more than 44% from a non-English speaking background. There is also a wide variety of religious groups including Catholics, various Christian groups, Bahais, Muslims, Hindus Buddhists and Sikhs. The Interfaith gathering seeks to bring together key religious leaders from all these groups on a bimonthly basis to discuss issues relevant to their communities and initiatives to strengthen ties between the various religious groups. The meeting generally takes place in the council venue and sometimes at other faith centres. The group is currently planning to do more outreach programmes which will involve members of the their communities, to ensure that Moreland has a tolerant and socially cohesive population.
Apart from the Interfaith Gathering, there is also a Moreland Multicultural Advisory Group which plays a key role in discussing issues affecting certain cultural groups and putting in place solutions to such problems. Moreland is also known as a ‘Refugee Welcome Zone’ and for the purposes of integrating these groups, the council organises a Refugee Day as well as Harmony Day annually.
The Council has been proactive in community development, working closely with the community leaders. Many among the 100 community groups organise activities in partnership with each other such as lunch or afternoon tea gatherings and the council gives out community grants to approved projects apart from offerings its facilities. The Migrant Resource Centre also plays an important tole in organising activities to bring communities together
Successes and challenges: Despite having a very diverse population, through the activities of the council and the various community groups, Moreland has managed to stitch together a socially cohesive population. Some of the challenges lie in continually promoting understanding between different cultural groups, engaging and developing relationships with isolated groups, and strengthening cultural awareness training within Council and the community sector.
What evaluation (if any) was conducted: A consultation process with external and internal stakeholders was conducted and this evaluation has substantially informed the development of the Moreland Multicultural Policy and Action Plan 2006-2010. Council consulted widely with a range of community organisations, ethnic community groups including new and emerging communities, agencies, service providers, Councillors and Council staff.