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An open letter to the Community of Victoria

An open letter to the Community of Victoria

23 September 2014

We, the members of the Victoria Police Multi-Faith Council, are writing to the Victorian community to affirm our rejection of all violence, particularly that which is based on sectarianism.

The terrible scenes that have appeared on the internet and on our TV screens over the last few months are abhorrent to all fair minded Victorians. These events have caused many of us to reassess how we live our lives and how we relate to each other across our wonderful multifaith and multicultural community.

We need to protect what we have built as a community.  Together, we can keep each other safe.

Our Prime Minister has raised the public alert levels from Medium to High. In this context, we believe the best way to face potential threats is to work together, inclusively. This approach has served Victorians well for decades.

We must remember the things which have made this state great, our commitment to law and order, a history of working and cooperating with each other, and strong support for those in need, no matter what our religion or race.

During this difficult time, we need to be culturally sensitive, respectful and understanding.  Whilst recognising differences we also need to embrace and celebrate our similarities.

All of us have the right to worship and practice our faith. The strength of our multiculturalism and faith diversity has provided a strong foundation to face challenges in a positive and peaceful way.

The security of the Victorian community is everyone’s responsibility and we are asking and encouraging all faith communities to work with us to keep Victoria safe.

At a local level, we are asking the leaders of our faith groupings to encourage and remind their communities that:

  • the security changes are about criminal activity occurring both nationally and internationally;
  • suspicious activities should be reported to the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400 or 000;
  • any acts of religious or racial vilification should be reported immediately to Triple Zero (000); and
  • liaison with local police is encouraged to strengthen safety and community connections.

Faith leaders also have a role to encourage community members to pursue their values and beliefs while simultaneously responding and reporting discrimination or other illegal activity.

Victoria Police have undertaken to respond to any complaints in a fair and unbiased manner using human rights principles.

The Council stands united with Victoria Police in its belief that the cohesion and harmony which exists across our State will be our greatest asset in keeping each other safe so that we can continue enjoying one of the most successful multicultural and multifaith societies in the world.

The Victoria Police Multifaith Council is a long established grouping of faith leaders which provides advice to the Chief Commissioner.

Following the elevation of the National Terrorism Public Alert Level to 'High', the Council met with the Chief Commissioner and agreed to encourage all members of the community to work together in the interests of public safety.

  • Ken Lay, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner
  • Commander Sue Clark, Victoria Police Co-Chair Multi-Faith Council
  • Dr Hass Dellal, Co-Chair Victoria Police Multi-Faith Council, Executive Director Australian Multifaith Foundation
  • Andrew Tongue, Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • Protodeacon Alexander Abramoff, Russian Orthodox Church
  • Nail Aykan, Islamic Council of Victoria
  • Prof Gary Bouma AM, UNESCO Chair in Interreligious & Intercultural Relations – Asia-Pacific
  • Rev Dr John Broughton, Senior Police Chaplain, Victoria Police
  • Prof Desmond Cahill OAM, Religions for Peace Australia
  • Denis Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Catholic School Services of Victoria
  • Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, Rabbinical Council of Victoria
  • David Marlow, Executive Director, Jewish Community Council of Victoria
  • Eddie Micallef, Chairperson, Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria
  • Archdeacon Philip Newman OAM, Faith Communities Council of Victoria
  • Ahmat Polat, Executive Director, Australian Intercultural Society
  • Jagdeep Singh Shergill, Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria
  • Dr Arvind Shrivastava, Hindu Foundation & Patron – Sankat Mochan Samiti
  • Rev Samani Sila JP, Somoan Christian Churches Victoria
  • Yasser Soliman, Former President, Islamic Council of Victoria
  • Michael Wells, Honorary Victoria Police Chaplain, Buddhist Council of Victoria

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