Shepparton, Australia: UN World Day of Tolerance 2016

UN World Day of Tolerance is celebrated worldwide each year on 16 November. The Shepparton Interfaith Network, in collaboration with Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District conducted an observance of Tolerance Day at the Senior Citizens Centre, Welsford St, Shepparton.


Dimensions of Tolerance

In the iterations of the day, tolerance was found to have individual, social and national dimensions. A person is never an actor alone but is always influence by their social codes, prevailing attitudes and history.

The inner dimension of tolerance recognises the humanity of the other and has the capacity to step out of the box and feel the experience of the other. This feeling leads to understanding (we stand under an event, real or imagined and allow it to shed its light upon us), and expanding our boundaries to include the other. One does not abuse nor disrepect the other for the other is one’s own self. This is compassion.

There was reference to the social dimension of tolerance, wherein the tolerance an institution confers in the community may have postive outcomes many years later, producing a stronger, more resilient communnity. Examples were given where community leaders put tolerance into action (tolerance as a value which guides behaviour) and postive outcomes are seen further down the track.

Dr Frank Purcell spoke about national values and the notion of a ‘fair go’. Australians are inclined to be tolerant and accepting of newcomers into the community and to give them opportunities to be creatively involved in sharing their wealth of experience with the wealth of the community. One benefits from the farming skills and practices brought from another culture which produce arable and viable farming in what would otherwise be unproductive land.

Chris Hazelman, Manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District addressed the puposes of the International UN Day of Tolerance. The United Nations is committed to strengthening tolerance by fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples. This, along with the UN Charter of Human rights, is becoming more and more important in an era of rising and violent extremism.

Chris Hazelman went on to explore the the meaning of tolerance and explored tolerance as a passive activity, and acceptance as more inclusive term. Shepparton is often cited as this model for successful settlement. While there are no performance measures for this, there is no disagreement. Shepparton, Mr Hazelman concluded, is recognised not only for unique demographics for a regional city, but because we go further than tolerance and are truly accepting.






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