Project Description: While the council is not currently involved in any projects directly catering to the Muslim community, it has previously been involved in events to increase interaction between various ethnic groups. This included a weekly program of cultural awareness and harmony activities to increase participation by Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in which the Council funded Bankstown Area Multicultural network. Another similar event involved an interactive luncheon and workshop encouraging CALD women to come together to celebrate their diversity in which was funding was granted the organisers – the Lebanese Communities Council. Furthermore, the council also funded the production of a ‘Bankstown Council Harmony Day’ DVD which involved interviews with young people of diverse ethnic and religious communities, residing in Bankstown.
Project Description: Currently not actively involved in any Muslim specific projects. The Council actively supports refugee communities from many countries through our Blacktown Emerging Communities Action Plan programs - but these are not Muslim specific events. It also undertakes harmony day type events - but again are focussed on many communities
Successes and Challenges: N.A
What evaluation (if any) was conducted: N.A.
Initiative Title: The Interfaith Network
Organised by: City of Greater Dandenong
Contact Details: Michele Watts
PO Box 200 Dandenong, Victoria 3175
Ph: 03 9239 5100
Funded by: The Interfaith Network is a voluntary network with some funding provided by the City of Greater Dandenong and other funding bodies for specific projects.
Time Period of Initiative: Established in 1989; ongoing monthly meetings. Number of participants involved: Approximately 60 faith members & representatives.
Target Group: Leaders and members of various faith communities in the Springvale, Dandenong, Keysborough and Noble Park areas.
Project Description: While the council does not currently oversee any Muslim community-specific project, it has an active interfaith group which has its origins in 1989. The council has formed a close partnership with The Interfaith Network which is a group of diverse cultural and religious faiths, who have chosen to work with the City of Greater Dandenong Council to promote peace and harmony within the municipality. The network consists of leaders of the Baha’i, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh faiths and their communities as well as the spiritual organisations of the Sathya Sai and the Brahma Kumaris. Some of the activities of the Interfaith Network apart from their monthly planning meetings include:
An Annual Gathering of Faith Communities, held in October and an interfaith
Annual gathering of local schools including Islamic schools.
Monthly public tours and specially tailored tours for schools and other interested groups of the various places of worship within the City of Greater Dandenong
Previously known as The Faith Communities of the City of Springvale and of Dandenong, the Interfaith Network is an opportunity for dialogue and understanding between various religious groups, a way of living with mutual respect and tolerance, and a celebration of individuality and identity of each tradition. Although the network is not specific to Muslim groups, it forms an excellent avenue for leaders of Muslim groups to interact with those from other backgrounds and forge closer ties with the wider community.
Successes and Challenges: A major success of the Interfaith Network is the longevity of the Network and the commitment by its volunteers to work for peace, harmony, and understanding in the City of Greater Dandenong and beyond. The Network of faith leaders along with the City of Greater Dandenong have been in existence for 18 years now and continues to grow in response to community need. Other successes include the continual avenue of community education that the Network provides. This education is extended to adults and children through a number of events and initiatives.
What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Evaluation mechanisms included surveys at organised events as well as face to face feedback.
Initiative Title: Cramer Street Neighbourhood Project
Target Group: Ethnically diverse groups living in the Cramer Street neighbourhood
Project Description: The Cramer Street Neighbourhood Project was a partnership between the Darebin City Council and representatives from the Cramer Street neighbourhood. The central aim was to tackle racial tension amongst people from diverse backgrounds living in the project area. The project aimed to build understanding of diverse cultures through dialogue by bringing local people together in social settings. The overall aim was to develop resilient neighbour relations that can withstand external pressures such as potential negative media reporting of international crises.
The need for the project was identified to address heightened tension experienced by residents living near the Mosque and which is due to a number of reasons including:
Increased usage of the mosque on Fridays and during Holy day celebrations,
International events linked to terrorism that can contribute to backlash and violence against Arab and Muslim communities, and
Hostile media reporting of domestic events that involve Arab and Muslim communities.
The Cramer Street Neighbourhood Project set out to achieve the following:
Develop a neighbourhood focused program which creates opportunities for neighbours to socialise, mix and enjoy cultural, social and educational activities,
Reduce conflict in the neighbourhood due to intolerance of difference,
Increase understanding and appreciation of difference,
Promote the concept of inclusive neighbourhood whereby the Mosque, like the local church and the primary school is accepted as an integral part of the neighbourhood,
Bring key stakeholders together from the neighbourhood to lead the project’s process and outcomes.
It did so through a bundle of associated activities under the banner ‘Cramer Street Project’ including celebrations, Mosque open days, community BBQ’s and seminars. This gave participants the opportunity to learn about each other in a friendly environment and subsequently reduce previously held prejudices and misconceptions.
Successes and challenges: By concentrating attention on building neighbourly relations, together with communication and information and social events there has been an increased acceptance of the Mosque and its community and less complaints from neighbours. Darebin Council recorded an eighty per cent decrease in the level of complaints by neighbours during the month of Ramadan, which is one of the Mosque’s peak times for the year. There was also a fifty per cent decrease in the number of traffic infringement notices.
What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Evaluation was conducted through verbal feedback and questionaries, a random household survey and a Project Reference Group (PRG) was set up with representatives from the local school, church, mosque, TAFE College, local Police, community organisations and relevant Council Officers. Several residents from the project area gave positive feedback on the event and expressed interest in staying informed about the project. They also said it was important to facilitate interaction at festival displays and performances to actively engage participants in dialogue.