The ‘Journeys of Culture and Faith, Stories of Us’ forum coincides with Cultural Diversity Week, which runs from 18-26 March. It will be held at Darebin Intercultural Centre and is organised by the synod’s Uniting through Faiths unit, in partnership with Darebin Council, the Ethnic Communities Council and Victoria Police.
Larry Marshall, Uniting through Faiths project manager, said the event aims to create a space for young people to share their experiences.
“It is important that we privilege young people in the telling of their stories of various faiths and cultures,” he said.
“Their journeys are different – individual and fascinating. These energetic and inquiring voices of youth will open our hearts and our minds.”
According to the most recent Census, 67.7 per cent of Victorians follow a religion. More than 135 different faiths are practiced throughout the state.
“Some people are born into a culture or a faith whilst others are drawn to a faith later in life. Yet others may have chosen to leave a faith and remain outside religious traditions,” Mr Marshall said.
“So, in our secular multicultural society, how do people practice their own faith and traditions and at the same time engage with and come to know the other?”
The panel of young speakers come from Victoria’s Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities.
Abuzar Mazoori is an Afghan Muslim who came to Australia as a refugee in late 2015. He studied a bachelor’s degree in law in Afghanistan and is currently completing two courses at RMIT on justice and interpreting.
Semisi Kailahi is a second generation Australian who recently moved to Melbourne from Sydney. He is a Uniting Church member and the son of a Tongan minister. Before he moved to Melbourne, he was the communications and resource officer for the Uniting Church Assembly and worked in interfaith and cross-cultural ministry.
Rebecca Fiala grew up in Melbourne as part of the local Jewish community. She was head of the progressive Zionist youth movement, Netzer, where she led weekly activities and ran community building camps. She also served as the Vice President of UN Youth Australia and is now a Jewish studies teacher at the King David School.
Other speakers on the night include Mahad Aabdirahman, a Somali Muslim and local social worker, and Esther Cogger, a Christian with Anglo roots.
After the speeches, there will be time for attendees to break away into small groups and explore the concept of diversity and its relationship with community harmony. Participants will reflect on how they can learn from one another and what actions they can take to contribute to social cohesion.
The forum is free and runs from 6:30pm to 8pm, with light nibbles from 6pm.
Darebin Intercultural Centre is located on 59A Roseberry Avenue, Preston. For more information contact Larry Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org