IFFACT Background


The Interfaith Forum in the ACT sprang out of the global interfaith movement which first met in Chicago, USA, in 1893. The global movement celebrated its centenary with a second global meeting of some 10 000 persons in Chicago in 1993. A group of twelve Canberrans from various spiritual traditions participated in that meeting; upon their return they continued to meet and build fellowship together, and have met almost every month ever since. The meetings were mostly held in the Brahma Kumaris Centre, 38 Wisdom Street, Hughes from 4 to 6 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month.


From March 2010 the composition of the group was broadened, comprising 12 or more different spiritual traditions; the place of meeting is now mostly at the Theodore Notaras Multicultural Centre, Canberra City, and the time of meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. on the Third Sunday of each month. A Committee was elected comprising Chair Person, Secretary and Treasurer, and 3(?) other members. The name was changed to Canberra Interfaith Forum, and it was decided that we become formally a Subcommittee of the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum (CMCF) which is based in the Multicultural Centre.


Past activities have regularly included hosting speakers from various spiritual traditions on their own traditions or other subjects of public interest; visiting each other’s places of worship, discussions and social activities. There have been yearly interfaith services of worship and participation in the ACT Multicultural Festival.



To see people living and working in harmony, respecting all cultures, races, and spiritual traditions.



To enable and facilitate open interchange, dialogue and co-operation between people of various spiritual traditions within the ACT.




1. To promote open conversation between individuals of various spiritual traditions based on equality and mutual respect.

2. To deepen knowledge, understanding and appreciation of various spiritual traditions.

3. To demonstrate loving and effective relationships between people of various spiritual traditions.

4. To share deeper spiritual insights and values in the community.

5. To uphold and respect the right of all human beings to maintain and practise in harmony the
spiritual traditions of their choice.

6. To promote cooperative action involving the participating spiritual traditions in the ACT.

7. To participate appropriately in community events such as the ACT Multicultural Festival and multifaith worship and fora.

8. To disseminate information on multifaith and relevant activities


How IFFACT endeavoured to achieve the above objectives

1. Conversation. Individuals met regularly with members of other spiritual traditions and shared friendship, celebrations, condolences and common concerns.


2. Knowledge. Various members presented summaries and stories and scriptures of their respective traditions and courses or meetings were attended locally or interstate at which there was extensive exchange of information about one or more spiritual traditions; several members shared in the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne, December 2009.Members helped each other in exploring more meaningfully the sacred scriptures of traditions other than their own.


3. Relationships. Over the years these exchanges have resulted in deeper levels of friendship, trust and mutual sharing. For the last 6 years there has been an annual end-of year public multifaith worship session in which each tradition shared its scriptural or other insights into a common theme selected for that year, e.g. Peace, Light, Harmony, Service, Environment, the Golden Rule.


4. Values. Various workshops were organized e.g. on values in school education; on short-, medium- and long-term values held in common; and on teachings on morality. Brahma Kumaris have done notable work in this area in many Australian schools.


5. Harmony. This was fostered for instance by making joint visits to the respective places of worship of each spiritual tradition and learning about their specific spiritual insights and customs; organising joint reflections at times of crisis in the world, participating in prayers e.g. for those who suffered in war-time or natural disasters.


6. Co-operative action. Following a series of presentations and discussion of the perceptions of various spiritual traditions on environmental issues, climate cgange, sustainable living etc, it was resolved to try to establish an environment garden in each of our faith groups enmbodying our commitment to protection of creation/nature. It was resolved also to work together as faith groups to promote environment-preserving action. To this end it was also decided to ask the ACT government to allocate a small piece of public land for an Environment Meditation and Healing Garden. It was considered beneficial to implement this project as far as possible on a mutual-help basis. A Multicultural Grant has been applied for to support the project, which is to be implemented with the cooperation of the United Ngunnawal Elders Council ,the ACT Hospice and Little Company of Mary, the ACT Palliative Care Society, the Mental Health Community Coalition and the Mental Health Foundation.


7. Participation in Community Activities. There has been annual participation in the ACT Multicultural Festival, with sessions of song, dance, dramas, scriptural readings, multifaith concerts; posters depicting the Golden Rule as seen in each spiritual tradition; projection of films such as ‘Chasing God’, ‘On Common Ground’, Journey of Promise’, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.


8. Dissemination of multifaith information. Many books and other documents have been donated by faith communities to the extensive library at the Canberra Islamic Centre in Monash. Seminars and discussions have been held on the specific traditions, writings, beliefs and activities of the various spiritual traditions.



Program for
‘Concept and Relevance

of Spirituality’
Hosted by The Canberra

Interfaith Forum
Sunday 26 September 2010