A day of interfaith learning

Craig Laundy (third from left) and Jihad Dib (second from right) with students from Mount Sinai and Masada Colleges at the Youth Summit. Photo: Noel Kessel.

MORE than 112 students and teachers from Muslim, Christian and Jewish schools, both state and private,  attended Together For Humanity’s (TFH) inaugural Inclusive Communities Youth Summit at NSW Parliament House last month.

At the event, school delegates, hailing from across NSW, presented proposals for initiatives aimed at making our society more inclusive for minority groups and others.

Students discussed the merits and drawbacks of each proposal with delegates from other schools, and voted to elect the strongest proposal from each age group, with students ­suggesting improvements and amendments.

The schools with the elected proposals presented them to Members of Parliament including the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Craig Laundy, Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka, shadow minister for education Jihad Dib, shadow minister for multiculturalism Sophie Cotsis, and to religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths.

“Young people from different backgrounds need to interact meaningfully with each other and to take an active role in creating an inclusive Australia,” said Rabbi Zalman Kastel, national director of TFH.

Stating that a key aspect of countering prejudice is engagement, Rabbi Kastel said, “We can spout slogans all day about saying no to racism, but what happened at the Youth Summit is that young people got involved in the decisions about how to achieve inclusion.

“They really got into it together with kids from different backgrounds.”

Describing the energy in the room as “electric”, he added, “It was also great to have students from schools that have ongoing relationships, namely Masada College and Bass High School, as well as Arkana and Mount Sinai Colleges, working together on the day.”

Mount Sinai principal Phil Roberts told The AJN the school places a high priority on interfaith work.

“We have been involved in interfaith work for over eight years and our students placed a high priority on this particular day, solving social problems alongside boys and girls from different cultures and backgrounds,” he said.

The Youth Summit is funded by the Australian government’s Department of Social Services. It is a collaboration of TFH, the NSW Ecumenical Council and the United Muslim Women Association.

EVAN ZLATKIS