Dr amanda wise & dr jan ali commonwealth of Australia 2008

Initiative Title: Campus Conversations

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Initiative Title: Campus Conversations

Organised by: Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations (FAIR)

Contact Details: Kuranda Seyit
PO BOX 1013, Strawberry Hills, NSW
Ph: 0412 318 045
Email: info@fair.org.au

Funded by: Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Time Period of Initiative: Since 2006, six programs have been conducted.

Number of participants involved: 30-40

Target Group: Muslim and non-Muslim students in universities in Sydney and Melbourne, academics, journalists

Project Description: FAIR is a community organisation made up of young Australians working to enhance the position of Muslims and to promote a positive image of the grassroots Islamic community in Australia through advocacy, public relations and by engaging the media. This particular project involves lectures in universities in New South Wales and Victoria for tertiary students and the general public. The lectures aim to break down misunderstanding and stereotypes generated by the media, and to make accessible ‘Australian Muslims’. They will focus on current issues facing the community and promote critical understanding of Islam and Australian Muslims.

Through Campus Conversations, FAIR tries to educate the community about the differences and similarities between various religious communities and to eradicate ignorance and intolerance towards any one religious group, promote inclusiveness and participation between various inter-religious and ethnic groups, and engage effectively and successfully with the media at all levels pro-actively and responsively. The project has also helped inter-community and inter-faith dialogue and mutual understanding between various groups.

Successes and Challenges: The successes has been in having a strong presence on tertiary campuses and stimulating active intellectual discussions between students and academics, which was also picked up by the media. Through such events, there has been a wonderful opportunity to correct misconceptions about Islam and Muslims among the general public.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Feedback has been almost completely positive with many universities expressing interest in such events on their campus.

Initiative Title: Youth Leadership and Mentoring Program

Organised by: Youth Fusion (division of Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations)

Contact Details: Kuranda Seyit
PO BOX 1013, Strawberry Hills, NSW
Ph: 0412 318 045
Email: info@fair.org.au

Funded by: Self-funded

Time Period of Initiative: 2006; Ongoing on intermittent basis Number of participants involved: Approximately 100 at each event Target Group: Young Muslims

Project Description: Youth Leadership and Mentoring Program (under the guidance of internationally esteemed scholar Sidi Naeem Abdul Wali (from the USA) is a series of short certificate courses on Islam including In the Footsteps of our prophet, History of the Hijab, Arabic morphology, Media for Muslims, Resolving conflicts the fun way, Muslim awareness about Drugs and Alcohol, An overview of Islamic history, Introduction to Islam and more.

Islamic Youth camps and weekend Deen Intensives/retreats are also conducted. The aim is to preserve the civil liberties and protect religious and social rights of Muslims, reduce religious bigotry and ignorance about Islam, simultaneously promoting involvement and active participation of Muslim-Australians within the broader spectrum of Australian society. The Youth Leadership and Mentoring program is also designed to empower young Muslims, to provide them with the skills and knowledge to integrate into mainstream society, and leadership capabilities which will eventually see them working effectively with other Australians in all fields.

Youthfusion is about self-reassertion and free expression self-identity. It is about self- confidence and comfort in knowing that youths are valued members of society. It is about securing a safe and stable future for youths and ensuring the inculcation of mutual respect in the community regardless of faith or ethnicity. It has a FITRA centre which is open to youth and adults alike. It also has an internet cafe, Islamic library, games area, all within 3 minutes walk from Auburn station.

Successes and Challenges: People who have gone through the programme developed a sense of direction, as well as began to understand the qualities of being an empowered Muslim in Australia. Programs such as these have a strong potential to bring about positive change in the Muslim community. Challenges include breaking the mould of people’s perception of Islam and making them understand the forward looking and empowering aspects of the religion.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Positive feedback from participation; via surveys, direct feedback and by email.

Initiative Title: WimSWIM – Women only swimming program

Organised by: Mission of Hope - Muslim Community Solutions for Health and Well-Being

Contact Details: Manal Nasreddine
PO.Box 675 Lakemba, NSW 2195
Ph: (02) 9703 1580
Email: womenshealth@missionofhope.org.au

Funded by: NSW Sport and Recreation

Time Period of Initiative: In place since May 2006; continuous batches throughout the year.

Number of participants involved: 150 enrolled in various levels

Target Group: Women and young girls from both Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds.

Project Description: The WimSwim initiative is a culturally appropriate program for women to continue to keep themselves healthy through swimming either as a sport or leisure activity. The initiative also welcomes non-Muslim women to participate so that there can be more interaction between Muslim and non-Muslim women and the community can benefit from this relationship.

Mission of Hope which organises the program, aims to keep Muslim women healthy through their participation in this women’s only swimming initiative for both leisure and sports. WimSWIM has also received a commendation at the highly prestigious NSW Water Safety Awards announced by the Minister for Tourism and Sport and Recreation, Sandra Nori. The commendation was received under the Patron’s award for the most significant contribution to water safety, with a focus on an under represented group.

WimSWIM recognises that there are many cultures and religions where it is not appropriate for men and women to swim together. The response to the programs has been fantastic wit h157 women and girls enrolled in the programs, participating weekly and learning the basics of swimming and developing their skills.

Successes and Challenges: The award received for the initiative is a reflection of the success of the program which has provided opportunities for women and girls to learn to swim and enjoy leisure swimming time in an all female environment.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: The turn-out as well as surveys among participants indicate a wonderfully positive response from the community.

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