• it comes but once a year…

     

    Hello from the InterAction Board! Let me tell you, we’re much bigger fans of getting in there and doing the work in community activation and change making, that we love –  but sometimes you’ve got to tend to the admin!

     

    It probably doesn’t sound that interesting, but we have put the highlights together to make it really easy to update yourself!  – First off, we want to let you know that our esteemed GM, Zachary Wheeler after almost two years with us at InterAction will stepping into a new role with our partners The Father Bob Foundation, working on some exciting new projects!

     

    Zach came to InterAction from his great work with the Oaktree Foundation and we wish him all the luck in the world as he continues to be a great role model for social changemakers out there! He won’t be too far away though, as he was voted onto the InterAction Board as our Vice President, to continue advising on our new directions.

     

    We are excited to announce that Nivy Balachandran, one of our Founding members has stepped off the Board to take a place in the team! Nivy brings fantastic experience having worked across various departments of State Government, in particular finding ways to support volunteering in Victoria.

     

    There are a few new (and not so new) faces on the InterAction board!

     

    Introducing the new InterAction President Patrick Carroll. Patrick is an ordained Interfaith Minister from the US who now lives in Melbourne working for the Brotherhood of St Lawrence.  With his combination of interfaith understanding and social service experience, Patrick brings the two worlds of InterAction together – our grounding in diverse faiths and our commitment to the common good. We’re very excited to have Patrick join us to deliver new strategic directions, in his humble hands-on manner.

     

    (For those of you confused by the terminology, don’t worry Freeman is still the CEO and will still be steering the InterAction ship, it’s just a little chain of command change!).

     

    Our new Secretary is Brodie Paparella. With a background in PR and admin, Brodie has served on Boards before and looks forward to also contributing as our Communications Manager! Catch us on Facebook and twitter under his steady hand!

     

    Now the role of Treasurer is important in any organisation, and we are so happy that community figurehead Mohammad El-Leissy will be taking on that role and finally getting into the InterAction action!! Mohammad has represented the Islamic community for quite some time here in Melbourne and brings to the table a great focus on community impacts and government relations.

     

    George Siosi Samuels returns for a second year to the board.  With his entrepreneurial skills, and a creative background in animation and digitial storytelling, he continues to bring great ideas to the table.

     

    Finally we welcome Dr. Anna Halafoff (who could be called the Big Sister of InterAction) having been there from the beginning as we got off the ground.  Anna brings expertise as an academic in interreligious relations, now working at the Deakin University Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation.

     

    The Fast Supper is still ploughing along, every Wednesday night.  We deliver hot food from the Hare Krishna’s and fresh fruit and vege to those living in the Park Towers housing commission.  In these cold winter months, the service we provide is appreciated more than ever.  There’s plenty of room for more volunteers, and we have a volunteers day for new people coming up on July 13th.

     

    We are less than 4 weeks away from the launch of our Multifaith Internship – our new flagship training program for young leaders.  The crown in the jewel is the 3 day camp our interns will go on from July 1st– 3rd which is going to be about as much fun you can possibly have standing up. There’s spots still available, so jump on the internship page and have a look.

     

    That’s it from us guys, hope you made it this far, and you’ll be hearing from us over the next few weeks!

     

    Posted on by Freeman Trebilcock

    About Freeman Trebilcock

    Freeman Trebilcock is the CEO of InterAction (www.InterAction.org.au), Australia's leading organisation for culturally and religiously diverse young people. In this role Freeman has gained extensive experience facilitating small groups to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their world. Freeman feels that his calling is to enact social change through helping others bring about their own personal transformation. With this in mind, Freeman co-founded Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth (www.LKPY.org), an international peace organisation which attempts to foster inner revolution & disarmament. View all posts by Freeman Trebilcock →
  • Q & A – more questions than answers

     

    Last weeks Q & A was on the theme of “faith & love”.  For regular watchers of the show it promised an interesting diversion from the weekly banter and one-up-manship of politicians taking swings at each other on national television.  But sadly while the theme and the 5 panelists (Buddhist nun, Catholic Archbishop, Muslim Imam, Secular Jew, Atheist Comedian) promised much, it did little to raise the tone of the debate.

     

    Of the 60 minute show, probably 55 minutes were spent circling around three issues: homosexuality, paedophilia & terrorism.  While these are clearly the hot button issues when the topic of religion is raised in the public square, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad.  In our increasingly cosmopolitan society is religion going to remain forever pigeon-holed as cause of discrimination, perversion & war? Of course something must be done to reform religious traditions, but if all we do is talk about the problems within them how will religious traditions ever come to enact their core purpose – reforming and transforming ourselves and our world?

     

    Our society faces some huge challenges: economic collapse, climate change & extreme poverty being just a few.  The root causes of these issues are things which religious traditions were once-upon-a-time tasked with addressing: selfishness, greed, lack of empathy, etc.  While the world’s faith traditions are ancient storehouses for tools needed when addressing the worlds issues, few people are looking into the vaults of the great faith traditions in search of an answer.  As long as the conversation remains fixated on the insane practices of those on the fringes of religious traditions (just as we saw on QandA), fewer and fewer people will look to religion as a legitimate source of inspiration.  If this is where we remain stuck, we will lose so much of humanities great wisdom.   While faith traditions certainly must shed some baggage of their own making, they posses so many assets of humanity that our world can’t afford to lose.  But how do we untangle what to keep and what is just baggage?  How do we live such ancient wisdom in a  modern way?  How can we change the conversation about religion?  And how do we bring both secular and religious communities along on this journey together?

     

    After last week’s show I’m left with more Q’s than A’s.  Changing the conversation about religion takes more than a one hour TV show.

     

    -F

    Posted on by Freeman Trebilcock

    About Freeman Trebilcock

    Freeman Trebilcock is the CEO of InterAction (www.InterAction.org.au), Australia's leading organisation for culturally and religiously diverse young people. In this role Freeman has gained extensive experience facilitating small groups to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their world. Freeman feels that his calling is to enact social change through helping others bring about their own personal transformation. With this in mind, Freeman co-founded Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth (www.LKPY.org), an international peace organisation which attempts to foster inner revolution & disarmament. View all posts by Freeman Trebilcock →
  • The census and religion

     

    A nation evolving

     

    So the results of the 2011 Census are out. The major talking points have been the change in Australia’s cultural and religious demographics since the 2006 Census.

     

    In a nutshell, we are significantly more diverse. ‘Multiculturalism has won the battle for Australia‘ proclaims The Age.

     

    As a youth interfaith organisation, what interests us is the change in religious identification since the last Census. There has been a slight drop in the percentage of those who identify as Christian (from 63.9% to 61.1%); Buddhism is the second largest religion in Australia with 2.5%; Hinduism is our fastest growing religion, and there has been a sizable increase in those who identify as having no religion (from 18.7% to 22.3%).

     

    Two big implications for interfaith

     

    The first is fairly obvious. Interfaith has struggled to engage with people who have no religion or do not believe in God. Whilst 40 years ago this dearth did not seem so apparent, today, people who identify as having no religion comprise almost a quarter of our population.

     

    For interfaith to stay relevant, we have to bring everyone to the table. This is what we at InterAction, Australia’s first ever youth run interfaith organisation, have focused on over the past year.

     

    At the end of 2011, we organised the Victorian Youth Interfaith Forum, which featured speakers from several interfaith and multicultural initiatives. One of the most profound speakers was a young man named Jason, an atheist who had participated in InterAction’s youth leadership program, iAct.

     

    At the forum, Jason said:

     

    “I’m a secular humanist, because I choose to identify myself in terms of what I believe rather than what I don’t believe.”

     

    Jason, by participating in iAct and then at the forum, put into motion the wheels that eventually saw InterAction partner with the Rationalist Society of Australia to fly out atheist interfaith activist Chris Stedman to speak at the Global Atheist Convention (GAC) in April 2012.

     

    The fringe event we organised – Some of my best friends are atheists – was at the coal face of the faith-atheist chasm. As it turns out, there isn’t much of a divide when a Buddhist talks to a bunch of atheists, actually!

     

    The second important finding of the 2011 Census will resonate with those who are familiar with the interfaith space in Australia. Without going into too much detail, interfaith in Australia, until recently, focused largely around all three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. People of other faiths were often a second thought, if they were included at all.

     

    The 2011 Census data shows us that non-Christian faiths in Australia are on the rise. Anyone who knows interfaith has known this for years. Now the Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, etc are brought to the table as equals.

     

    At InterAction, the religious diversity of Australia is not a new discovery to us. Our founding members were from the Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Baha’i and Christian traditions. Since InterAction began in 2009, people who identify as atheists, agnostics (seekers), and everything in between have volunteered with us. It has been an enriching and eye-opening journey for each and every one of us.

     

    Everyone’s welcome to help support the cause


    So whatever your background or belief – as a theist, an atheist, or an I-don’t-give–a-craptheist, InterAction welcomes you with open arms.

     

    If you’re interested in joining in the movement to interconnect, build and create a more compassionate society where our shared values motivate us to take social action, what are you waiting for?! If you weren’t already convinced we were on the right track, we now have Census data backing us up.

     

    Get on board – we want to hear from you.

     

    Written by Nivy Balchandran.

     

    Posted on by z.wheeler@interaction.org.au

    About z.wheeler@interaction.org.au

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  • Campfire Film Festival

     

    Recently I had the good fortune to receive (courtesy of Interaction) two free tickets to the Campfire Film Festival at Federation Square, on Saturday 12th May. The freebie was intended as a reward for the efforts of Interaction volunteers. In my case, this was completely undeserved, but naturally I was more than happy to accept the prize.

     

    A quote from the Campfire website (http://campfire.org.au/cff2012 ): ‘The Campfire Film Festival…celebrates short film as a means of provoking discussion and debate around meaningful issues.’

     

    ‘Short’ is a good description, as none of the films were longer than about 10 minutes, but what they showed is that being short in length doesn’t mean being short on drama, meaning, comedy or any of the other things we go to the movies for. The films shown covered the gamut of genres from documentaries to dramas to music videos. And, just as with ‘standard’ length films, the quality can be somewhat variable. Stand-outs for me were the Czech movie, Most and Rock and Roll is the Only Thing That Makes Me Feel Good (by the time you’ve said the title, the movie’s almost over).

     

    Most has a profound message about life, death and sacrifice, delivered in ways both shocking and subtle.

     

    Rock and Roll is the Only Thing That Makes Me Feel Good probably has as many interpretations as there are viewers, but for me it was about how we live our lives, and questions of how we get meaning or joy out of life. You could call it a music video, which would give some idea of its presentation, but would do its content a disservice.

     

    I found the panel discussion that took place in the cinema fascinating. Speakers included film makers young and old, a student, and those involved in teaching on the subject of film. There was much articulate discussion on the special power that film can have to convey messages, and how it can shape our views, and maybe even who we are. I was particularly impressed by Lucas Haynes, a film maker all of about 13 years old, who clearly has a sophisticated understanding of film beyond his years.

     

    So all I can say is thanks Interaction!

     

    Geoff Gaylard

     

    Posted on by Fast Supper

    About Fast Supper

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  • A new look! A new outlook

     

    For those of you who’ve been keeping an eye on InterAction for some time, you might have noticed some changes over the past couple of months.  Yes I’m talking about the new logo.  But not just that, there’s a whole new feel around the office, a new feeling about the future and a new direction.  Part of this is we’ve grown up as an organisation, and we’ve found what we’re really good at.

    The Fast Supper and iAct are where we want to go. Why?  Well it’s a combination of both head and heart.  The Fast Supper allows us to be out there doing the heart work of interfaith community building and action.  iAct allows us to develop the skills and the knowledge needed to be effective leaders for change.  This way we are building the interfaith youth movement here in Australia.

    If this sounds like your cup of tea, then I want you to know it’s not too late for you to get involved.  We are currently recruiting so check out the volunteer staff positions for ones you might like.

    big love >>> freeman

    Posted on by Freeman Trebilcock

    About Freeman Trebilcock

    Freeman Trebilcock is the CEO of InterAction (www.InterAction.org.au), Australia's leading organisation for culturally and religiously diverse young people. In this role Freeman has gained extensive experience facilitating small groups to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their world. Freeman feels that his calling is to enact social change through helping others bring about their own personal transformation. With this in mind, Freeman co-founded Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth (www.LKPY.org), an international peace organisation which attempts to foster inner revolution & disarmament. View all posts by Freeman Trebilcock →
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