PWR | STANDING | With the Sri Lankan Victims & Our Christian Family Around the World | Tuesday 23 April 2019

[Edited extract from public address]

The Parliament of the World’s Religions extends its deepest condolences to the victims of the bombing attacks that occurred this past Easter in Sri Lanka. Churches offering Easter services and a number of hotels were targeted in the attacks.

We condemn these and all acts of violence against all peoples.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions is committed to a culture of non-violence and respect for life, as agreed upon on our signature document Towards A Global Ethic. The violation of life committed in these attacks is abhorrent and we call upon peoples of faith and conscience to come together and stand with the Christian community and all victims of these heinous attacks in Sri Lanka and around the world.
“To be authentically human in the spirit of our great religious and ethical traditions means that in public as well as in private life we must be concerned for others and ready to help. We must never be ruthless and brutal. Every people, every race, every religion must show tolerance and respect–indeed high appreciation–for every other.”
Towards A Global Ethic: A Declaration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
How You Can Help:
  • Donate blood at your local hospital through the Sri Lanka National Blood Transfusion - Find the closest donation site here.
  • Donate to the Red Cross, Asia Pacific Red Cross members and Sri Lanka Red Cross members are assisting during the crisis.
  • Consider volunteering with Volunteer Sri Lanka, which sends international volunteers to help teach at local schools, to care for the elderly, work at the teaching hospital, at the Nurses Training School, and to help rebuilding efforts.
Read Statements from Interfaith Partners:
From URI - Standing with Sri Lanka
From Religions for Peace - Religions for Peace Statement on the Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka
From OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership - A Statement on the Easter Attacks Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka
From The Elijah Interfaith Institute - Sri Lanka Newsblast
From FEZANA - Statement Condemning Attacks in Sri Lanka

Parliament of the World's Religions
Address: 70 East Lake Street, Suite 320, Chicago, IL 60601 USA

VTMH | TALK | LGBTIQ Intersect, a new online resource | Wednesday 17 April 2019 | Arrive 2.45pm for 3-4pm

[Edited extract from public address]

VTMH led the co-design and co-production of the LGBTIQ Intersect website.  Join speakers Silvana Izzo and Lotus Ye (Victorian Transcultural Mental Health, St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne) share this innovative resource designed for community members and practitioners alike.

Start conversations and develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ), multicultural, and/or multifaith. The resource includes key concepts for culturally responsive practice, learning modules, and stories of lived experience.

Silvana and Lotus will explain the process so far and discuss future education and networking opportunities.

Considerations: Registrations from 2.45pm. Light refreshments

Where: Conference Room, Level 1 Bolte Wing (Building F), 14 Nicholson St, St Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy VIC 3065

Bookings: Essential, spaces are limited. Online through Trybooking

Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH)

RFP | ADDRESSED | Religion and Human Rights in Australia | Tuesday 5 February 2019

[Edited extract from public address]

Former head of Australia’s Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, gave an address on Religious Freedom in celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2019 – at Melbourne University on 5 February 2019 to an audience of 400 interested persons.

As an international lawyer with an interest in human rights law, I have only rarely been asked to speak about religious freedoms… I say rarely because, unlike so many other human rights in Australia, religious freedoms are not threatened in practice…

or so it has seemed to me, that is, until I travelled a few years ago to Gosford on the NSW Central Coast to speak at the Gosford Anglican Church of St Mary. This historic church was built in 1858 in East Gosford and later moved, stone by stone, to its current spot. Its priest, Father Rod Bower, is thoroughly modern, a rebel known for his advocacy for the most vulnerable in the community. (He is I believe, now standing as an independent in the next election). He had long provided humorous support for the Australian Human Rights Commission’s work for asylum seekers on the church’s weekly message board—including one that read #We Stand for Gillian Triggs.

Professor Triggs went on to say, inter-alia,
Most protections for religious expression are indeed only by way of exception. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 provides an example of the drafting technique. The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sex, among other protected attributes, in public life including employment, education, the provision of goods and services, accommodation or membership of licenced clubs. However, it also contains an article that provides exceptions for the ordination or appointment of priests, ministers of religion or members of any religious order; the training or education of those seeking such ordination or appointment; the selection or appointment of persons to perform functions for any religious observance; or any other act or practice of a religious body that:
‘conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of that religion or is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion.’
If Australian law enables religious bodies to avoid the legal obligations normally binding on all others in the community on the exceptionally wide ground that the act or practice of a religious body conforms to its beliefs or is necessary to avoid injury to religious susceptibilities, then this exception is generous and wide ranging.

International Law
Firstly, how does international law protect freedom of religion?

Article 18 of the ICCPR protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This freedom comprises two elements:
  • the right to adopt a religion or belief of one’s choice
  • the right to manifest that religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching in public or private.
These two aspects of freedom of religion may be subject to limitations only if they are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental freedoms of others.

Nations such as Australia that have become parties to the Covenant - and are bound by it in international law - must also ensure the ability of parents to provide the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their convictions. Manifestation may not include advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that incites to discrimination, hostility or violence. Finally, the right is so special, a nation cannot derogate from it, even in times of public emergency.

There are some important points to observe from this legal obligation:
  • the right to freedom of religion is not absolute but is to be exercised with respect to the freedoms of others;
  • the right is expressed by reference to individuals, rather than institutions,
  • it may be manifested in both private and public spheres
  • extends to conscience and thought as well as to religious belief.
Professor Triggs, in discussing Australian Law, said,
Australia has not fully protected freedom of religion as required by the Covenant, a point that is sadly true with respect to most of the human rights protected by the treaty.
Professor Triggs went on to consider Anti discrimination laws and exceptions; the Sex Discrimination Act where it relates to Educational institutions established for religious purposes. Also discussed were the exception to anti-sex discrimination laws where public funds are involved. Marriage Equality and the amendments to the Marriage Act passed were considered along with state and territoey laws, and the Ruddock Report. Professor Triggs then went on to reflect on a Federal Legislated Charter of Rights as recommended by the Law Council of Australia and scholars and commentators.

These have been tumultuous times. Marriage equality is finally a reality in Australia. Now we can progress to considering better ways to protect the right to religious expression while ensuring no one suffers discrimination, whether they are caring for elderly people or baking cakes for wedding celebrations.
For a more nuanced approach to striking a balance among rights we need to articulate guidelines. We need to ask and answer questions about what measures are reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances. For transparency and predictability, we also need closer scrutiny of claims to an exception by religious bodies. None of this is impossible. We can and should do it.
Irony: while the government hoped that the review would protect religious freedoms it has exposed in the public arena the unnecessarily wide exemptions that may well now be more restrictive.

A collaboration between University of Melbourne Chaplaincy and Religions for Peace Victoria Branch. Professor Emeritus Gillian Triggs was President of the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2012 – 2017.

Click for a full version of this address with introduction and question-and-answers

Religions for Peace Victoria Branch

GEIFN | MEDIA | Mix | April 2019


Best wishes for less Suffering, more Happiness with Good Health and Time to Enjoy it. Welcome to Armenian calendar 1468.

Forgive the intrusion, this month's Grabs for personal consideration.

Let’s begin by sharing an insight:
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." Benjamin Franklin
Discuss with sincerity. Deny that untrue. Dismiss when unuseful. Accept now useful. Adapt to change. Adopt least effort most benefit. Adept with sharing. Enjoy throughout. As each case may be. Round. And again. Or not.

-- Media Words
-- TED Talks
-- Guest Sings
-- Street Jives
-- Wisdom Reconciles
-- Challenge Reflects

Approx 5 min reads

Melanie Kembrey explores increasing opportunity, access and visibility for women’s’ voices, celebrating reasons why “Stella Prize 2019 shortlist includes youngest ever finalist” via The Age

Pauline Nguyen shares her experience of difficult upbringing, reconciling the Anger and liberating oneself from personal, familial and generational Suffering “After running away at 17, I finally decided to face my father” via The Age

Jim Palmer explores mental health, caring, hospitality and “Minding the gap between hopelessness and faith” via The Sydney Morning Herald

Kim Dunphy reviews an exploration of identity, society and belonging in this multilayered expressive “Cycles of darkness and light in Karul Projects' Dance Massive work Co_Ex_En” via The Age

Anna Prytz explores how transforming disrepaired school environment into open, connected and collaborative spaces raises learning standards, revealing secrets of “Schools that Excel: tearing down the rusty fence and raising the bar” via The Canberra Times

Maureen Matthews explores a time proven constructive way to overcoming difficulties in relationships, recommending to “About Last Night: Be prepared to listen, without firing up” via The Sydney Morning Herald

Henrietta Cook explores Australia’s freedom of assembly, right to strike and permitted voicing of dissent in public places to decision makers, as “Thousands of students skip school for climate change protests” via The Age

Tony Wright explores overcoming challenges for disinterested disengaged students, reporting “Cash push for acclaimed scheme that keeps at-risk students in school” via The Age

Charlotte Grieve explores the time-worn role of art to transform misfortune, tragedy and disgrace into understanding, forgiveness and redemption, shining a spotlight on “Abbotsford Convent Magdalen Laundries to open doors for first time since 1975” via The Age

Hannie Rayson explores poverty, domestic violence and helping hand of strangers, walking the streets through discussion with “Author Mark Brandi on crime, poverty and the burden of family violence” via The Age

Royce Millar and Ben Schneider explore changing attitudes over supportive environments for returning service personnel as “Young veterans' reform group presses for a pokie-free RSL” via The Age

Maureen Matthews explores acknowledging lived experience, present trigger buttons and adaptive mind fields in “About Last Night: How to handle the laws of emotion” via The Canberra Times

Carolyn Webb explores seeing opportunity, minimizing waste and more sustainable living, awakening to “Restock and roll: It's a food truck, but not as you know it” via The Age

Richard Cornish takes a trip to the past for sustainable land management, shining a spotlight behind “The Eel Dinner: Discovering food secrets of our past” via GoodFood

Paul Byrnes explores the importance of introducing fresh faces to overcoming present environmental challenges, reviewing a documentary revealing “Inventing Tomorrow: Forget Marvel, these kids are the real superheroes” via The Age

Anna Prytz explores developments to improve equity and access to meaningful reproductive health education, reporting “Breaking the period talk taboo” via The Age

Jewel Topsfield explores how cultivating self responsibility, student centering and supportive environments improves learning outcomes, reasons “Schools that Excel: How the west was won” via The Sydney Morning Herald

Kim Dunphy explores performances acting as a medium for constructive and dynamic engagement with historical inequity, reviewing “Struggles for survival embodied in dance” via The Age

Emma Koehn explores examples of individuals taking responsibility for taking unsustainable practices to the big end of town and reasoning for change, reporting “How a crafty potter's petition got a promise from Australia Post CEO” via The Canberra Times

James Massola and Veena Thoopkrajae explore personal identity, civic responsibility and providing positive role models for a brighter shared future “'It's not about being famous': Meet Thailand's first transgender PM candidate” via The Brisbane Times

Jamila Rizvi salutes qualities of inspiring leadership: wisdom, compassion, consistency, sincerity and importantly in the time of need, citing how “Jacinda Ardern just proved typically 'feminine' behaviour is powerful” via The Age

10-20min presentations

Alex Edmans: What to trust in a "post-truth” world (18 mins)
Dawn Bennett-Alexander: Practical diversity: taking inclusion from theory to practice (17 mins)
Simon Tam: How to Talk with a White Supremacist (13 mins)
Helen Turnbull: Inclusion, Exclusion, Illusion and Collusion (13 mins)
Christoph Niemann: You are fluent in this language (and don't even know it) (13 mins)

Approx 5 min presentation

Te Vaka with Orchestra - We Know the Way

Approx 2 min presentation

Sesame Street and Sarah Michelle Gellar: Disappointed

Approx 20 min presentation

David Suzuki - For Thought: Hope for the Planet (25 mins)
Scientist, broadcaster, author, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and Grandpa and Elder. He is Companion to the Order of Canada and a recipient of UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for science, the United Nations Environment Program medal, the 2012 Inamori Ethics Prize, the 2009 Right Livelihood Award, and UNEP's Global 500. Dr. Suzuki is Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and holds 29 honorary degrees from universities around the world. He is familiar to television audiences as host of the CBC science and natural history television series The Nature of Things

Approx 30 min presentation + reflection times

If desired, a short selection of publicly available material on a chosen theme for personal reflection.

For best results, sit comfortably with a straight back, have headphones in a shared space, after each clicked link, allow a little reflection with your personally-held view before clicking on the next link.

Get ready to Reflect!
Choose your playing level:
Be introduced at 1.
Be soothed at 2-4.
Be shocked at 5.
Be inspired at 6.
Fuller illumination 1-6.
And yes, its a repeat of an oldie and a goodie. Or not. You be the judge.

Cryptic Clue:
What is a strategy to overcoming hurdles, facing distant horizons and dealing with uncertainty?

1. Inspire
2. Perspire
3. Collaborate
4. Engage: Test for personal circumstances, if useful keep, if unuseful discard, if exceeds needs, share mindfully
5. Endure: Adapt for present times without sacrificing intent
6. Endear: (Inspiring Others To Tend the Flame) live/ demonstrate/ inspire/ teach experience with others

late Middle English; via Old French des- ; from Latin comprising
dis- = negation, reversal or absence of an action or state, removal of something, separation, expulsion, completeness or intensification of an unpleasant or unattractive action;
+ apointer = from a point ‘to a point’, assignation of a job or role to (someone), determine or decide on (a time or a place), Law Determination of the disposition of (property of which one is not the owner) under powers granted by the owner
+ -mentum = means or result of an action

a) Feeling of sadness or displeasure because someone or something has failed to fulfil one's hopes or expectations. Ie, I'm disappointed in you. Ie, thousands of disappointed customers were kept waiting.
b) Result of hopes or expectations prevented from being realized. Ie, the rising was a revolution of disappointed hopes.

Old English forgiefan, of Germanic origin, related to Dutch vergeven and German vergeben, comprising
for- = prohibiting, abstention from, neglecting, or renunciating, used as an intensifier
+ give = transferrance of possessions of some thing from one to another, cause or allow (someone or something) to have or experience (something); carry out or perform (a specified action); yield as a product or result; concede (something) as valid or deserved in respect of (someone); state or put forward (information or argument); alter in shape under pressure rather than resist or break

a) stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake. Ie, I'll never forgive David for the way he treated her.
b) no longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake). Ie, I was willing to forgive all her faults for the sake of our friendship; Ie, sometimes it is advanced understanding why to forgive and forget.
c) cancel (a debt). Ie, he proposed that their debts should be forgiven due to hardship provisions.
d) used in polite expressions as a request to excuse one's foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness. Ie, you will have to forgive my suspicious mind.

Old English forgietan, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vergeten and German vergessen, comprising
for- = prohibiting, abstention from, neglecting, or renunciating, used as an intensifier
+ get = Middle English from Old Norse geta = obtain, beget, guess; related to Old English gietan (in begietan = beget, forgietan = forget), from an Indo-European root shared by Latin praeda = booty, prey, praehendere = get hold of, seize, and Greek khandanein = hold, contain, be able.

a) fail to remember. Ie, he had forgotten his lines; Ie, she had completely forgotten how hungry she was.
b) inadvertently neglect to do, bring, or mention something. Ie, I forgot my raincoat; Ie, she forgot to lock her door; Ie, I'm sorry, I just forgot.
c) deliberately cease to think of. Ie, forget all this romantic stuff; Ie, after the break up she chose to forget about him.
d) neglect to behave in an appropriate way. Ie, ‘I'm sorry, Cassie. I forget myself’.


-- Chant Buddha Mantrastyle

One strategy of transforming disappointment is to forgive and forget with all, some or sum of the above meanings. Or not. As the case may be.

This is universal basis of re:lig:ion (again:uniting:energy). Here in this email, we'll hear it as countless sounds: of thoughts, words and actions wishing, causing and receiving less Suffering and more Happiness. For benefit initially of the individual increasing in beneficiaries until it includes all across all times and directions.

It is not personal, it just the way things are.