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ACTIVITIES

The following major national events were held prior to the formation of the Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria (SICV):


The New Millennium Dawn Prayer at the Treasury Gardens on January 1, 2000.

A Sense of Place - Victoria’s Multi-faith Religious Celebration for Australia’s Centennial in May 2001.

Multi-faith Prayer Ceremony held at Rod Laver Arena for Sept 11, 2001 victims of the World Trade Centre tragedy in New York.

The successful participation in the above events and the desire to promote interfaith and multicultural harmony within the State of Victoria provided the motivation to form SICV in September 2002. Since then its activities have increased significantly. The visibility of the Sikh community through membership of other networks has also improved.


INTERFAITH NETWORKS

There are a large number of Interfaith Networks in the Metropolitan Melbourne area and SICV is represented on many of these. Our representation depends on availability and settlement of our people within the locality where the network is formed. We try and reach as many areas as possible. Besides the local Council Interfaith Networks, we are also represented in the following key multi-faith groups.



We are happy to engage in the activities of the networks because all are concerned with promoting respect, harmony, and understanding. Our presence enables us to present the Sikh point of view and if need be make representations about the Sikh faith Activities are varied from offering a prayer, singing a Shabd (hymn), sharing a meal, discussing local issues, making a presentation, attending a forum, a festival or hosting a tour of place of worship.


Our Association with the Police through the Victoria-Police Multi-faith Council has enabled us to provide cross-cultural training to all police recruits. The police recruits used to visit the Gurduara for a presentation and conversation with members of the community. However since September of 2009 the program has been modified to “Community Encounters” and has been centered at the Police Academy We spend about two and a half hours with more than 50 recruits each time The recruits conduct interviews with Sikh community members to gain a better understanding of the community’s profile and discuss faith and cultural issues. This way the recruits learn about policing through the eyes of the community. Since the program commenced in September of 2009 we have been visiting the Police Academy on a regular basis once every fortnight.

PARTICIPATION IN MAJOR COMMUNITY EVENTS

SICV proudly participated in the following major events:



PUBLIC FORUMS AND SUBMISSIONS

SICV represented the Sikh Community at major public forums such as:



PUBLICATIONS

SICV has contributed to publications on matters affecting the Sikh faith, such as:


Gurduara TOURS

Visiting a place of worship of ‘Other’ faith is getting recognition in the Community. Visitors entre another world and have a unique experience. Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria has always welcomed visitors to our Gurduaras. This enables us to share information with the Australian community about our religious beliefs and practices. Any group whether from a school, university, multi-faith network, security agency, or any other individual or group interested in obtaining some knowledge of Sikh religion and culture is given a guided tour of the Gurduara. Visitors are usually informed of our practices of sangat (congregation prayer) and pangat (sharing in langar). We often receive positive comments from visitors from their experience in the Gurduara as noted below:



Another visitor wrote the following:


“We were completely taken aback by our welcome and the generous hospitality you all offered.  How wonderful to have such an experience with a different faith community. Our visit was a unique example of what humans can be for one another. We can live and worship in our own cultures and live and operate in a wider community without compromising our beliefs.


Our group had a profound experience being with you all. Your worship gave a sense of peace and tranquility and the gift of food gave us the chance to meet all of you who were assisting in the work of your temple.”


In November 2008 a visiting group from U3A wrote: “ The members of the Casey U3A group studying the Great Religions of the World who visited the Sikh Gurduara yesterday have asked me to record their most sincere appreciation for your kindness and the depth of the briefing you gave us.


It is one thing to study a religion in an academic way, even when approached sympathetically. It is an experience of totally different order when one is able to ‘feel’ the religion through devotion such as yours and the atmosphere that was so apparent in your temple. We were particularly impressed with the reverence with which the Guru Granth Sahib was approached. This is truly holy ground.


Our only regret was that we had so little time with you.


A local church group visiting the Gurduara wrote in to say “We admire the work you are doing through the langar. It is a good thing for your community to eat together and also to provide food to others who join you. You are a very generous people. We enjoyed the food you shared with us and thank you for it. “June 2008.

PRESENTATIONS

It is usual to make a short presentation to visiting groups at the commencement of the tour. SICV responds to the specific projects of student groups at the same time ensuring some basic beliefs and practices of Sikh Faith are covered. Presentations are also made at interfaith groups, forums, schools and Church groups.

SIKH RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTIONS

SICV has been recognized by Religions for Peace - Australia as the accredited body for providing religious instruction in Victorian State Schools. Sikh volunteer teachers have been registered with the Department of Education and SICV. .We commenced classes in a small number of schools. Classes are held weekly for thirty minutes in each of the Primary schools we have accepted into. The extent and scope of our work is limited by the number of volunteer teachers.

CHAPLAINCY AND PASTORAL CARE SERVICES

SICV is well represented at hospitals in the South-Eastern Health Care Network. We visit patients on a needs basis. SICV was involved in the consultation process in transforming the chapels at Dandenong, Kingston, and Frankston Hospitals into Sacred Spaces for use by all communities.


Recently we were able to nominate and appoint a Sikh Chaplain for Police Victoria.


SICV also made presentations to hospital staff concerning the needs of Sikh patients at hospitals and provided written information when requested. SICV publication “Sikh Patients in Hospitals” is a good guide to hospital staff.