The second Australian Hindu Conference with the theme ?Sustaining Australia through strengthening bonds amongst communities? was organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Australia. The conference was inaugurated by world renowned spiritual leader Swami Dayananda Saraswati by lighting the traditional lamp. The conference was held from April 11-12 at the University of Western Sydney, Parramatta campus. Uncle Max Harrison, the Aboriginal elder, blessed the occasion with an aboriginal blessing.
The conference brought together Hindus in Australia coming from different countries as well as guests from across Australia, religious groups of Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Aboriginal and Australian host community. There were over 250 attendees at the two-day conference. Shri Brij Pal Singh, president of VHP Australia, welcomed the delegates.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati said human conscience and values are universal. He emphasised the message from the Vedas. Ahimsa Paramo Dharma?that non-violence in thought, deed and action, is the highest and most basic of all values and all else are derivatives of this universal value.
Shri Cheenu Srinivasan made a presentation on ?Hindu Contribution to Australia? based on Australian Census 2006. Among the immigrant community, Hindu community is the third largest among non-Christians in Australia. Of the age distribution among Hindu community, a majority of Hindus are in the most productive age group (20-49 years). In education, it was highlighted that the number of post graduates and doctoral degree holders in Hindu community is at least 9 times compared to total Australian population, on a percentage scale.
Hindus are a major contributor to Australia'stalent pool in health services, teaching, research, IT services, public service, business services. A number of Hindus won national recognition with Order of Australia Medals, Prime Minister'sScience Award etc.
Federal Parliamentarians, Shri Philip Ruddock and Shri Laurie Ferguson (Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs) addressed the conference. Former Minister for Immigration Shri Philip Ruddock said Australia had benefited from diversity in its society and that managing it was not easy and requires a good deal of efforts with policies and programme. Shri Laurie Ferguson recalled the address of Swami Vivekananda at the World Conference of Religions in Chicago in 1893 and acknowledged Hindu ethos and values. He reaffirmed the Rudd Labor Governments? commitment to multiculturalism. Other dignitaries who attended the conference were Shri Ray Williams, MP representing the New South Wales, Leader of the Opposition Shri Dilip Chopra, Councilor of the Hormsby Shire Council and Professor Michael Adams, Head of the School of Law and Provost of UWS Parramatta.
The workshop organised on the occasion focused on issues, which were common to all Hindu organisations, and also to the wider community, such as Harnessing the dynamic spirit of youth, Providing social services to Hindu community and Networking among Hindu organisations, associations, temples and institutions.
Shri Brij Pal Singh said at a time of global financial crises and fears of a long recession, we must rediscover our spiritual roots and help each other to sustain us through these difficult times. ?VHP Australia looks forward to all Hindus and fellow religious traditions in Australia working in harmony with all sections of the wider Australian community and enriching our lives with our shared traditions.?
Smt Nalini Sankar, vice president of VHP Australia, thanked all the members of the organising committee for their hard work, the foreign and local delegates.
The first Australian Hindu Youth conference with the theme ?Dynamic Spirit of Youth? was announced to be held in April 2010, and third Australian Hindu Conference to be held in April 2011. Delegates expressed their appreciation at the way the conference was organised with a human and personal touch for looking after the needs of the delegates.
As a result of workshop deliberations, key issues of the Hindu community were identified. Four new divisions of VHP Australia (Vidya Vihar, Hindu Youth Australia, Hindu Elders Foundation and Hindu Social Services Foundation) were launched as the outcomes of this conference. Many youth, especially women, volunteered to actively participate and coordinate these programmes. This is indeed a good outcome and the conference has given enough confidence to the Hindu community in general, and youth and women in particular. Vidya Vihar is a holistic personality development educational programme. The weekly classes are for children and youth. Hindu Youth Australia was launched to strengthen and unite and to develop leadership among Hindu Youth. Hindu Elders Foundation will be run by the elders for the elders. VHP Australia will offer them the necessary infrastructure and support. The Hindu Social Services Foundation will work with the community and the government agencies to find solutions to the social issues of Hindu community.