The event was a great success and included:
- Colourful multifaith & multicultural concert in Melbourne's beautiful Town Hall
- Free vegetarian meal prepared by the Sikh community
- Inspiring addresses by national leaders on reconciliation and climate change
Over 700 people gathered at Melbourne Town Hall on the afternoon and evening of Sunday February 8 for a vibrant celebration of Melbourne’s religious and spiritual diversity.
Melbourne: Making a Difference was a major preparatory event for the Parliament of the Worlds Religions, the world’s largest global interfaith gathering, to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 3-9 December, 2009.
Occurring just a day after the tragic Victorian bushfires, the event began with prayers from different spiritual traditions for the fire victims. Attendees also raised $2300 for the Red Cross Bushfire appeal.
The event highlighted two of the major issues to be addressed at the Parliament in December – reconciliation and climate change. Tom Calma, Aboriginal Elder and Australian Human Rights Commissioner addressed the issue of reconciliation between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians while Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Don Henry discussed the challenge of climate change with a panel made of members from the Jewish, Buddhist and Christian communities who are working actively in this area.
Mr Laurie Ferguson, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, spoke about the important contribution made by volunteers to events such as the Parliament. He particularly welcomed the Parliament’s Community Outreach Presenters, volunteers from a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds, who have been chosen by their communities to act as “ambassadors” for the Parliament.
Another important contribution to the event was made by Melbourne’s Sikh community, who provided a delicious traditional vegetarian meal for all the participants in the City Square, who returned to the Town Hall for an evening of Indigenous and world music hosted by Azmeena and Nazeem Hussain of “Salam Cafe” fame.