Shepparton Interfaith – Annual General Meeting 2016

The Annual General Meeting of Shepparton Interfaith Network was held at St Brendan’s Church, Shepparton on evening of 2 February 2017. Representatives of many faith communities attended the meeting which was addressed by Sam Birrell of the Committee for Greater Shepparton and Ms Liz Arcus of Picnic4Peace. A report was given accounting for the activities of the Interfaith Network for the 2015-2016 year.


Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Interfaith Network was conducted at St Brendan’s Church – at the Mgr Peter Jeffrey Centre behind the Church proper – on evening of Thursday 2 February at 7pm.

Representatives of many faith communities attended the meeting. President Frank Purcell gave an account of the work of the Interfaith Network during the 2015-2016 financial year.

President’s Report

The Shepparton Interfaith Network had a most eventful year during 2015-2016, including a number of partnerships and sponsorships. During the 2015-2016 year we sponsored a number of events:

    Women’s Alliance partnership, Refugee Week, sponsorship of movie, The Good Lie
    Shepparton Library partnership, multicultural storytelling, Refugee Week,
    Light the Dark Shepparton, Community Event, Donation for sound, lighting
    Shepparton Multicultural Film Festival, sponsorship,
    ANZAC Day Forum on Just War
    Understanding Islam Forum for Women
    Female Genital Mutilation Movie Night,
    Promotional Material, Afghani Community Centre and Mosque,
    Shepparton Places of Worship Booklets

Sponsorship of Refugee Week events both enables recognition of the plight of those who are refugees in our community and outreach to those parts of the community the Interfaith Network would not normally reach. These events had an attendance of approximately 300 people. Light the Dark was a community event attended by 400+ of the community at night, and was conducted by Afghani, Al-Kasem and Punjabi Youth groups – these are faith groups which we are now conducting activities on a regular basis. This was an excellent outcome for the small investment.

The Multicultural Film Festival nearly failed but for our donation; it had a significant outreach to the Philippines community, the Keralite and Hindu communities and Italian-Greek community. This was considered an important community building venture. The Anzac Day Just War Forum attracted members of other religions seeking to understand the collapse of the moral foundations for conducting war. There was attendance from Sikh and Muslim communities.

A particularly important sponsorship was the Understanding Islam Forum for Women, conducted by the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre – this was very well attended and received positive feedback. With regard to Female Genital Mutilation, there has been an ongoing project locally on this matter. The interfaith network supports this project fully, and the Professional Day was one of the best mornings we had ever spent in Shepparton.

The movie “Desert Flower” is about Female Genital Mutilation and we agreed to partner with City of Greater Shepparton and Ethnic Council in sponsoring the movie, and the discussion – Q&A that followed. Full house at the local Village Cinema with 189 seats filled.

In September, we partnered with several organisations and provided sponsorship for the first Picnic for Peace event at the Lake in Shepparton. This had an attendance of 400 peoples.

The Afghani Community had completed the construction of their community centre and mosque, and sought to present themselves to the community at Christmas. After some discussion – and agreement to conduct an interfaith event in the future at the Afghani Mosque, it was agreed to assist this community with durable promotional material focused on community welcome. There was an event to present this material, attended by 156 people.

There has been – and continues to be a strong demand for Tours of Places of Worship and a colour booklet was produced and distributed to the Visitors Centre and to organisations conducting tours. These have been utilised on many tours.

In the forthcoming year, we look to taking interfaith further beyond the bounds of Shepparton and we have been funded to conduct interfaith events in local regional townships of the Goulburn Valley. The Shepparton Interfaith Network continues to serve all the faith communities of the Goulburn Valley.

Ms. Liz Arcus presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the President, acknowledging the support of the Interfaith Network for Picnic4Peace. Liz gave an account of how Picnic4Peace came about and how it was responding to multiple events wherein peace was being reduced to pieces. It was rather amazing how so many different parts of the community came together to create this event, which had over 400 people attending. The event was repeated with similar success the following year and Picnic4Peace is evolving to multiple events in the local community. Liz Arcus’s talk highlighted how significant peace is in the hearts of the local community – of all backgrounds, cultures and faiths.

Sam Birrell gave an account of the work of the Committee for Greater Shepparton and an overview of issues currently confronting the region from connectivity, productivity, inclusivity and creativity points of view. This led to a question and answer session which focussed upon social capital, social inclusion and the needs of the region as expressed by various welfare agencies and service groups.

The Meeting closed at 8:30pm and was followed by supper.





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