Interfaith Youth Forum Launch

6 March 2020

Al Siraat, in partnership with Whittlesea Interfaith Network and St. Monica’s College, hosted the interfaith Youth Forum Launch in the Fountain View Room of City of Whittlesea council on Wednesday, 4 March 2020.

The Interfaith Youth Forum is a grassroots projects to counter racial and religious discrimination and promote greater inclusion through visual media. The project is financially supported by Victoria Government’s Community Harmony grants and proudly supported by the City of Whittlesea and Victoria Police.

Our MC for the event was ASC Captain and Students Representative Council member Balaj Elahi, who did a fantastic job of coordinating the speakers.

Opening prayer and reflections on the importance of Interfaith dialogue was shared by Mufti Aasim Rashid. The founder of Whittlesea Interfaith Network and former mayor, Councillor Kris Pavlidis gave a wonderful speech about the importance of engaging young people in interfaith programs for greater inclusion in our communities stating “Our rituals may be different, but our values, those core values we have, are all the same.”

Students from St. Monica’s College and Al Siraat each shared some very inspiring projects that they have been working on over the past few months which were received by much applause. Ms Noori Ahmad, our SRC Coordinator, and Mr Denis Zucchet, Coordinator for St. Monica’s College were instrumental in ensuring the engagement of students at this event. This was reflected in the quality of the presentations made by each of the students involved.

Reverend Margaret Hartley, President of Whittlesea Interfaith Network (WIN), gave a heartfelt speech, drawing on the speech of Martin Luther King around inclusion and the need for engage more youth. She encouraged young people in the room to participate in future interfaith initiatives by registering with WIN.

Senior Constable Gerald Del Bono from Australian Federal Police shared a presentation on the roles and responsibilities of AFP in keeping us all safe and the opportunities and pathways to employment for any young people looking at a career with the AFP.

The final and most touching speech of the day was made by our Year 10 student Nur Naziihah Hafidi, who’s family have lived experience of losing a loved one at the Christchurch mosque attacks. Naziihah gave a very powerful presentation highlighting why these grassroots initiatives are necessary. She shared of her optimism in this project being able to empower young people with the knowledge and resources to driving change through social media. She shared the various workshops and events that are planned as a part of the Interfaith Youth Forum project moving forward.

The entire project is being covered by Cinespace Inc who will be supporting students in developing a final video which captures the project to be shared on various social media platforms.

This is a two year project and any schools or community groups in Victoria interested in participating in next year’s event are encouraged to contact the organisers.

Gulhan Eryegit Yoldas

Community Engagement Facilitator