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President Report (2016-2017) - Cecilia Mitra
Saturday, 18 November 2017 13:20
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Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC) President’s Report 2017

L-R: B. Ashen (VIC), B. Webster (NSW), C Mitra (WA), K. Dickson (WA), S Amoore (ACT), B. White (NSW)

I would like to start by thanking the following: -

2016/17 FABC Committee especially Mr Brian Ashen (VP), Mr Kevin Dickson (Secretary) and Mr Benjamin Webster (Treasurer);
The ASA especially Ajahn Brahm for his invaluable guidance and support;
Mr Dennis Sheppard, Coordinator of our Religious Marriage Celebrants;
Dr. Jake Mitra for IT & AV support and advice; and
Mrs Mohini Gunesekera, Bhante Sujato and Mr Stuart Amoore.

As incoming President, I had two broad objectives: -
1.    For FABC as peak body to be consulted on current social issues by government and media; and
2.    Access to Donations to be able to carry out our long term goals.

Vesak 2017 Celebrated at Federal Parliament House, Canberra

On 10 May 2017, Vesak was for the first time celebrated at Federal Parliament House in Canberra - a Joint Celebration by the Government, the ASA and the FABC.

This created the opportunity for the Committees of the FABC and the ASA and friends of the FABC in Canberra to meet and chat with our Federal Parliamentarians. The Hon. Mr. Turnbull’s Vesak message was read by Senator Seselja. Senator Seselja also gave a speech, Ajahn Brahm gave a speech on behalf of the ASA and I gave a speech on behalf of the FABC.

YouTube video:
Vesak Day recognised at Federal Parliament


Attended the 2017 Federal Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast in Canberra

On 9 August 17, I represented the FABC at the Federal Interfaith Parliamentary breakfast hosted by the ACU at the National Press Club, Canberra. Guests included 30 federal Parliamentarians. Speeches were given by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens Leader Richard Di Natale.

Of the 65 Religions leaders invited, only 5 of us were asked to share a reading from our various faiths. I was honoured to be able to share the Buddha’s teachings on the Ten Principles of Good Governance to our Federal Parliamentarians and other Leaders at the breakfast.
2017 Federal Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast


APRO Meetings

Represented FABC in several meetings between the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisation (APRO) and Federal Ministers, Senators and their Policy Advisors on 10 August

On 10 August, I represented the FABC in meetings organized by APRO with several Federal Politicians and government Officials in Canberra. These meetings were with the following: -
-Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
-the Hon Mark Dreyfus MP QC, Shadow Attorney General,
-Senator Pat Dodson, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,
-Multicultural Policy Section, Multicultural and Communities Branch, Department of Social Services, -adviser to Senator Penny Wong, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
-agent Scott Howard, Australian Federal Police; and
-Senator Zed Seselja, Asst. Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs

Appointment by New WA Museum

In October 2016, I was formally appointed to work with the New Western Australia (WA) Museum’s team developing Buddhist content for the New WA Museum. I have nominated Mr Boon Tan, President of the Buddhist Council WA and Dr. Jake Mitra (immediate past President of FABC) to be part of the team.

Participated in the Defence Symposium in Sydney

In June 2017, the FABC was invited to participate in a Defence Symposium organized by the Australian Defence Force. Mr Brian Ashen, Mr Dennis Sheppard and I represented the FABC at this symposium in Sydney. The purpose of the symposium was to discuss the need for a multi-faith Army Chaplaincy rather than the current Judeo-Christian based Chaplaincy.

The FABC was subsequently contacted by the Navy to recommend a Buddhist Chaplain for the Australian Naval Forces. Buddhist Chaplaincy in the Defence Forces is still in discussion.

Buddhism in primary schools and the SRE program


Mr Brian White and I were interviewed by the ABC radio to discuss this topic.

Audio: High demand for Buddhism scripture classes (ABC News)

Rohingya Peace Rally at WA Parliament House

On behalf of the FABC, Mr Kevin Dickson and I together with Mr Boon Tan (President BCWA) attended the Rally. A few hours before the Rally, it was noted that although there were planned speeches by other religious leaders, Parliamentarians and human rights groups, no Buddhist speaker was on the program. In view of the importance of the matter, I requested to speak on behalf of the FABC. Our attendance and my speech was well received by the Organisers and our Muslim friends at the rally.

Please click below to watch the YouTube video of the speech on behalf of the FABC

FABC Donation to the Rohingya Orphans in Bangladesh

On 8 Oct. 17, a donation of $6000 was made to the displaced Rohingya orphans in Bangladesh living in refugee Camps. This donation was raised by the Perth Buddhist community and facilitated by Ajahn Brahm at Bodhinyana Monastery in Serpentine.

The YouTube video of this presentation had a phenomenal response on social media. We had more than 54,000 views in less than 10 days. 144,321 people reached
54k Views (18 Oct 17)

Human Rights Commission Religious Freedom Roundtable meeting in Sydney

Human Rights Commission Religious Freedom Roundtable meeting in Sydney-    Human Rights Commission Religious Freedom Roundtable meeting in Sydney was attended by Mr Benjamin Webster (Treasurer FABC and Director, Board NSW BC)
-    APRO’s National Faith Forum 22 Feb 17
Attended by Mr Benjamin Webster on behalf of the FABC
-The 200th Anniversary of the Baha’i faith in Sydney on 15 Oct
was also attended Benjamin Webster on behalf of the FABC.
Meeting with Department of Social Services, WA
Following the meeting with DSS Canberra, DSS WA contacted me for a meeting. On 17 Oct. 17, Mr Kevin Dickson and myself represented FABC and Mr Boon Tan represented the BCWA at this meeting.

FABC issued several important Public Statements 2016/17

-Paris Interfaith Climate Change Statement 2016 COP 22 I was part of the Committee who made the Climate Change Statement 2016.
More information can be found at www.interfaithstatement2016.org
Climate Change Statement

FABC Statements on Marriage Equality

Sep 2016 The Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils made a Statement opposing the Plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage
-    Feb 2017 
Senate Inquiry Submission:
The Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils made a Senate Inquiry Submission in support
of the Bill introducing Civil Marriage Equality in Australia.

-    Dec 2016 FABC made two Statements on s.18C;
-    Feb 2017 FABC made a Foreign Policy White Paper Submission to DFAT
-    Oct 2016 - Condolence Message on the passing of
-    His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadei
-    Oct 2017 – Statement condemning the violence in Myanmar.

Donations to FABC

It is to be noted that unless the FABC obtains DGR status, it would be difficult to get donations.

-August 17 Round- table meeting
with ACNC Commissioner, Ms Susana Pascoe and charitable organisation in WA
Attended the round table meeting in Perth to discuss obligations for charities;
-12 Sept 17 Meeting with Ms Pascoe
This meeting was attended by Ajahn Brahm, Mr. Stephen Mayers on behalf of the ASA and
Myself on behalf of the FABC.
From the meetings, it should be noted that it is possible for the FABC to qualify for DGR status if
we can show that we do benevolent work. Upon our discussions, it could be seen that
Buddhist organisations do much benevolent work.
We were advised to seek advice from a Consultant to put our case to the ACNC.
This should be followed up by the next Committee.

Cecilia Mitra - President

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 November 2017 14:52