At the NCCA
AUSTRALIAN PARTNERSHIP OF RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS
The idea of this partnership was first discussed in February 2003 at a meeting convened by the Council for Multicultural Australia (CMA) in Sydney. The context of this meeting was both the current review of the CMA’s role as well as war with Iraq. The CMA wanted to ascertain if there was a role for it to broker the establishment of a body, or to undertake the task itself, of promoting community harmony at a time when there is a climate of conflict.
Following this meeting Abd Malak, the then Chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic and Community Councils of Australia (FECCA) convened a meeting (on 4 March 2003) that included a number of members of faith and ethnic communities. The meeting discussed the value of establishing a partnership of the communities with the purpose of:
- providing advice to government at the national level (both ministers, the public service but also to members of parliament not in the government),
- promoting and advocating for community harmony, inter-ethnic and inter-faith acceptance,
- exchanging information about issues of importance,
- issuing joint statements relating to shared values, and
- reporting on discriminatory behaviours, providing support, assisting communities at risk (possibly through the development of services and/or resources) as and when possible.
The partnership was initially called the Australian Partnership of Ethnic and Religious Organisations (APERO).
The partnership’s role and activities may be expanded in the future. There was consensus of view that it may well be beneficial to maintain the partnership into the future because issues of community harmony and productive diversity will remain significant no matter the circumstances.
The partnership’s role will also depend upon such issues as the changing views of members regarding the ongoing viability of the group, the current domestic and international environment and the availability of resources to undertake specific communication or promotional activities.
In July 2006, the partnership changed its name to the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO).
STATEMENT OF VALUES
The organisations, and the communities that they represent, are committed to and promote:
- an Australia of ethnically and religiously diverse peoples that is their home;
- the practices and principles of social justice (this encompasses the equality of access to political and legal rights, the right to full social and economic participation through the reduction of material disadvantage);
- Australian Multiculturalism as a core value that defines what it means to be an Australian in the 21st century and that encompasses respect and celebration of our diversity; and
- Australia that:
- is democratic,
- adheres to the rule of law,
- promotes and protects freedom of speech, freedom of religious belief, freedom of assembly and movement, freedom of association, freedom of expression (including the freedom to dress as an expression of cultural identity) and freedom of thought,
- condemns any form of abuse or discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, age (or any other grounds) by either individuals or organisations,
- actively supports equal access to opportunity, services and information, and
- treats individuals and communities with acceptance and respect without regard to their ethnicity or religion.
Additionally, the organisations:
- uphold the right of all Australians to live without the fear of violence in any form,
- respect the rights of all Australians no matter their ethnicity, religion or beliefs,
- undertake to work together, in mutual respect, to promote these values in practical ways,
- undertake to work together to minimise community disharmony, inter and intra-faith, ethnically and/or nationality-based tensions within Australian society, and
- will promote Australian Multiculturalism, and the principles it enshrines, as a good-practice model of social harmony and community participation to diverse communities within Australia as well as to the rest of the world.
- National Council of Churches in Australia
- Australian Federation of Islamic Councils
- Executive Council of Australian Jewry
- Baha’i community
- Australian Sangha Association
- Sikh community
- Hindu community
- Buddhist community:
- Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia
- Australian Multicultural Foundation
- Adult Multicultural Education Services
- Federation of African Communities Councils
- Australian Indigenous Community
- Arabic Community
- National Council of Migrant Resource Centres and Migrant Support Agencies
- Community representative - Mr Benjamin Chow
World Conference on Religion & Peace
- UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations, Asia Pacific
- Abd-Elmasih Malak
- Sharon Ride, Mark Kulasingham - FECCA Secretariat