Dr amanda wise & dr jan ali commonwealth of Australia 2008

Australian Audit of Grass- roots & Local Government Initiatives

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10.Australian Audit of Grass- roots & Local Government Initiatives

Initiative Title: Living in Harmony in the Hills District

Organised by: The Hills District Muslim Society Inc.

Contact Details: Tarek Akkari, PO Box 8078 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153,
Ph 0400 484 882
Email: antpharm@tpg.com.au

Funded by: Self-funded through donations

Time Period of Initiative: February 2007-Present, Weekly prayer gatherings, Monthly picnics other functions on an intermittent basis.

Number of participants involved: Approximately 100 members

Target Group: Currently Muslims from various ethnic groups in the area and will expand to include non-Muslims.

Project Description: The Hills District Muslim Society is an independent organisation. It seeks to bring the Muslim community in the Hills closer together. Its aim is to support and protect the Muslim community in the Hills District and to be the best Muslims and Hills citizens. It draws guidance from Islamic scripture and attempts to bring about harmony and peace throughout Hills District community. This project aims to generate mutual understanding about cultural diversity in the Hills District. It is designed to assist different religious and cultural groups to live together as one community by offering advice and organising social functions.

Established in 2007, The Hills District Muslim Society is still a growing organisation which is currently raising funds to have their own place of worship. They have members from diverse ethnic groups including Bangladeshis, Indians, Pakistanis, Lebanese, Afghanis which has brought many of them closer together. In the future, they plan to reach out to non-Muslims in the community through organised group activities such as barbeques and similar events to break down any barriers between them. They foresee their events being open to the public, so that their neighbours and friends can also take part in their activities, creating a cohesive society.

Successes and Challenges: One of the successes has been in attracting members from diverse ethnic groups, making it one of the mostly ethnically diverse Muslim groups in Sydney, and getting all of them to sit together and have a common agenda to promote the cause of Islam in society. Challenges involve breaking down typical stereotypes and the initial ignorance barrier.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Feedback has been mostly in the form of direct comments from members and participants, which have been positive. The organisation also receives emails commending them on their programs.

Initiative Title: Sawt: Voices of Women – The National Conference of Australian Muslim Women

Organised by: Canberra Islamic Centre

Contact Details: Shakira Hussein, 221 Clive Steel Avenue (cnr Isabella Dr & Clive-Steele Ave), Monash ACT 2904
Ph (02) 6125 4522/ (02) 62920602
Email: Shakira.Hussein@anu.edu.au

Funded by: Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Time Period of Initiative: Annual, since 2006.

Number of participants involved: Approximately 120

Target Group: Muslim Women

Project Description: This annual National Conference of Australian Muslim Women brings together Muslim women from around Australia to promote their positive participation, representation and wellbeing both in their own communities and in the wider Australian society. Sawt provides Muslim women with an opportunity to have their say on the important issues affecting their lives at this critical time for Australian Muslims.

Planning for the conference includes consultation with internal and external stakeholders, service providers and decision makers. A national database of Muslim women’s organisations, service providers and individual mentors as well as web facilities identify issues to be addressed at the forum.

This year’s Sawt conference was launched by Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward. Speakers and participants included:

  • Sydney lawyer, author and academic, Jamila Hussein

  • Melbourne social researcher and manager of the Grassroots Muslim Youth Initiative, Susan Carland

  • Victorian constable of police, Maha Sukkar

  • Sydney author and lawyer, Randa Abdel Fattah

Successes and Challenges: Dynamic participation from Muslim women who discussed issues important to their identities and roles in society. The Conference also brought significant attention to the status of Muslim women and their active participation in society, helping challenge prevalent stereotypes.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Online and physical surveys were conducted with thoroughly positive response from participants.

Initiative Title: My dress, my image, my choice

Organised by: Eve Consulting in collaboration with Islamic Council of Victoria

Contact Details: Saara Sabbagh, 161 Victoria Parade, Collingwood, Vic 3066
Ph: 0433131667
Email: saara@eveconsulting.com.au

Funded by: Department of Immigration and Citizenship Time Period of Initiative: Over 50 shows since 2001. Number of participants involved: Approximately 200 each Target Group: Non-Muslim Women

Project Description: My dress, My image, My choice is a women only community education program, with the intention of bringing Muslim and non Muslim women together to increase harmony and understanding about Muslim women and Islam in general; necessary we believe in today's political climate. The ingredients of this program are what make it so successful… great food, conversation and of course fashion! The education process happens in a fun, comfortable and relaxed environment where women are able to engage in discussion, ask questions and as a result, break down barriers and any pre- conceived ideas they may have had about Muslim women and Islam in general.

The program began quite humbly in Women's Health Week March 2001 in the City of Manningham , Melbourne. My dress, my image, My choice has received overwhelming success both within Melbourne and across country Victoria. The program has been conducted across cities within Melbourne and regional Victoria, as well as Sydney and Adelaide this year and will move to Brisbane and Tasmania in 2008.

My dress My image My choice is a non profit project operating under EVE, a women's only community initiative aimed at initiating and promoting dialogue between women of different faiths and backgrounds to create a truly harmonious intercultural Australian society. The program has been conducted at girl's only schools as part of the cultural and religious studies syllabus.

Successes and Challenges: The project has done a lot to help non-Muslim-Australian women understand the culture and religion of Muslim women. It has broken down stereotypes and helped change people’s preconceived notions of Muslims, especially in country towns. One of the challenges has been in finding adequate funding for the project.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Surveys conducted showed 98% positive response from participants at the events.

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