Creating Social Cohesion in Village and City
For those who live, work and raise families in urban environments, the need for stable, respectful, harmonious relationships among people of diverse ethnicities, races, cultural values and religious traditions is clear. But not always easy to achieve. Given the worldwide movement of populations, the issue of gaining the full participation of migrants into new countries — without prejudice or discrimination – can be especially challenging. The 2009 Parliament offered an impressive group of speakers and presentations that address the multiple challenges to creative social cohesion – with insight into how social harmony can be transformed from an ideal into a reality.
A sampling of programs includes:
Religious Leaders Response to the Victorian Bush Fires
The Victorian bush fires of early 2009 were among the most devastating natural disasters Australia has seen in decades. Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim, a Buddhist Nun and an eyewitness to these events, dialoged with other religious leaders to explore the most appropriate response to the calamity. She shared how these leaders went beyond the limitations of their respective religious organizations to meet the humanitarian needs of a their congregations through tales of acts of kindness in the midst of loss.
Chi Kwang Sunim
Feeding a plan of action for the UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace
Lasting peace, with social justice and economic equity, is only possible if enough people envision such a world. The UN Decade of Interreligious Cooperation for Peace is creating this vision, and this session allowed attendees to participate in the process. Presentations focused on development, human rights, and resolving religiously motivated conflicts, including questions and comments from the floor, will inform the Plan of Action for this vital UN initiative.
Policing with Multicultural and Multifaith Communities: The Experience of the Victoria Police
The recent arrest of an African-American Harvard professor in his own home highlighted the issue of policing in diverse communities. Australia’s Victoria Police have responded to this challenge head-on – through crafting written policies for law enforcement in multicultural communities and by creating a Multicultural Liaison Unit. In this program, members of the Victoria Police shared their department’s initiative to engage diverse communities, in order to build trust and develop a cohesive and harmonious society.
Commander Ashley Dickinson, Inspector Kerryn Hynan
Moving from “them” to “us”
Must diversity be a “problem?” Increasingly in cities around the globe, one's neighbors seem to be the “other” with different cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds. Worldwide, over 200 million people currently live outside their country of birth, 5 million of whom live in Australia alone. In addition, an estimated 43 percent of Australian residents were born overseas or are the children of those who were.
The 2009 Parliament explored social cohesion in the context of migration, transnational communities and the formation of multicultural societies and offer strategies and solutions from the grassroots activists to government policymakers. Out of our stories of success emerged new strategies for success.