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Since 1993, the Parliament of the World’s Religions has convened every five years in a major international city (Chicago 1993, Cape Town 1999, Barcelona 2004). Sponsored by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the 2009 Parliament took place in Melbourne, Australia. A multi-religious, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural city, Melbourne offered an ideal location for the 2009 Parliament. Culturally vibrant and global in vision, Melbourne and Victoria are home to indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities as well as the major world religions – Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism among others. Over 10,000 participants came to Melbourne for the Parliament. The 2009 Parliament turned worldwide attention to Melbourne as a destination city with international appeal. The Parliament continued for seven days with approximately 450 events including keynote addresses, seminars, conferences, debates, performances, concerts and exhibitions.

Parliament participants worked with others and within their own traditions to craft faithful responses to:

  • indigenous reconciliation

  • global poverty and global warming

  • environmental care and degradation

  • education of the young and the challenges of social disengagement

  • voluntary and forced migration

  • artistic expression and spirituality and

  • the value of sports

In today’s world, understanding between people of different traditions is not optional. It is essential. The 2009 Parliament gave people of faith, spirit and goodwill new reason to say that peace is still possible.

The Australian Context

Melbourne has demonstrated collaboration among its religious communities through inter-religious councils, school programs, and solidarity in times of stress and crisis. Melbourne has formed a council that works to ensure ongoing collaboration between religious leaders and police

An active and multi-dimensional city nexus includes government initiatives to support inter-religious engagement and organizations at the community level. Melbourne’s social policy model fosters cohesion and harmony in a multicultural and multi-religious society. The 2009 Parliament showcased Melbourne’s practices and policies designed to assist in integrating immigrants and refugees.

Within Australia, aboriginal reconciliation issues are pressing. The Parliament provided the opportunity to engage these issues within a larger context. Those gathered had the opportunity to explore new approaches to aboriginal reconciliation through dialogue with indigenous peoples from other countries. Participants at the 2009 Parliament, also had the opportunity to explore the themes of sustainability and global climate change through the lens of indigenous spirituality.

More on Australia

Australia is a vast country of nearly three million square kilometers, stretching from the tip of tropical Cape York Peninsula in the Coral Sea down to the cold wilderness at South East Cape in Tasmania, from the beautiful beaches and semi-tropical forests of Cape Byron to the arid Steep Point in Western Australia by the Indian Ocean. For more than 60,000 years over 250 distinct Aboriginal groups lived in a sophisticated society harmoniously connected to every parcel of their sacred land. Today, most Australians live on the coastline of Australia, between the forests and the beaches, where the climate is warm in the summer and temperate in the winters. In the interior Australia is a vast desert, home to the ‘Red Centre' and some of the most dramatic and barren country on Earth.

Australia became known as the ‘lucky country’ during the twentieth century owing to seemingly endless supply of natural resources including iron ore, copper, gold and natural gas together with cattle and sheep that were so numerous that people said Australia moved forward “on the sheep’s back!” The excellent educational opportunities in Australia has ensured Australia’s success in scientific and cultural achievements, boasting Nobel Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, Academy Award recipients and everything in between.

The accommodating weather and striking landscapes has made Australia a favorite destination for international and domestic holiday-makers, ensuring Australia’s tourism industry is a vital part of the local economy. The fine weather and high standard of living is also responsible for Australia’s love affair with sports of all kinds.

If you have never visited Australia, this conference provides you with the perfect opportunity. Be sure to set aside at least a few weeks to see some of our wonderful country. From the magic of the city of Sydney and its Opera House and Harbor Bridge, to the spiritual heartland of native Australia at Uluru and the Olgas in the ‘Red Centre’. From the Tuscan-like hills and vineyards of Victoria, to the cultural, entertainment and gastronomic capital of Melbourne. From the breathtaking beauty of the wilds of Kakadu in the north, to the pristine white sands of the surf beaches of the central and northern coasts of Australia, the Whitsunday Islands and the famous Great Barrier Reef. There is too much of Australia to enjoy on a single visit, so we encourage you to start your love affair with our country now!

About Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Australia has a rich diversity of cultures, languages and religions. There are more than 180 languages spoken in and around the city, with 10 percent of the population speaking a language other than English at home. More than 100 different religions and faiths are practised by Melbourne residents.

There is always something exciting happening in and around Melbourne, be it a festival of one of the world’s faiths, special days of religious significance, a world-renowned sporting event, an exciting arts festival or a conference of leading thinkers.

Melbourne is the events capital of Australia, matching world-class facilities and unique experiences with a warm and cosmopolitan community. Within an hour’s drive of the city you’ll find landscapes of immense natural beauty including pristine beaches and mountains, historic towns and boutique wineries.