2022 ACU Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast

Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast - Ashley MidaliaSince 2014, Australian Catholic University has hosted six parliamentary interfaith breakfasts, bringing together parliamentarians and the leaders of many faith communities in a spirit of mutual respect and dialogue. The most recent breakfast was held on 24 November 2022 at the National Press Club in Canberra and featured addresses from the federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and renowned journalist Stan Grant.

Parliamentary interfaith or prayer breakfasts, involving both parliamentarians and leaders of faith communities, exist in a number of countries around the world. In the Australian context, the breakfasts also provide an opportunity for parliamentarians of all parties to meet the leaders of many different faiths, joining with them to celebrate Australia’s diversity and communal harmony, while highlighting the shared interests and values that are common to us all.

Although interfaith breakfasts have not previously been part of the Australian tradition, ACU’s parliamentary interfaith breakfasts are becoming a popular and regular fixture on the calendars of both parliamentarians and the leaders of faith communities. ACU publishes a program for each event, in which faith leaders are invited to offer a prayer or reading in support of wise deliberations and good government.

For ACU, the events provide a chance to demonstrate our mission in action, namely, to foster an appreciation of the sacred in life, and a commitment to serving the common good. It is an opportunity to not only embrace and better understand our diverse faiths, but also to reflect on the important role that faith plays in our everyday lives and in our calling to serve the community. 

2022 Federal Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast

Discussions about religious freedom in Australia should aim to unite the nation rather than divide it, guests at the Australian Catholic University’s sixth Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast have heard.

After a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, over 150 guests – including dozens of parliamentarians and leaders from a wide diversity of different faiths – gathered on 24 November 2022 at the National Press Club in Canberra.

The event heard addresses from federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and renowned journalist and academic Stan Grant.


Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast - Stan Grant

Professor Grant said love for neighbour, even in the midst of evil, had the power to unify all people no matter what their beliefs.

“All around the world I have seen the truth of love in the face of horror,” he said.

“Love is the first lesson I learned in the little mission church in Griffith where I was raised. I knew that I was hearing something that was going to stay with me for the rest of my life and I could feel in that little church, love.”


Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast - Mark Dreyfuss, Attorney General
Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus referred to the national debate on freedom of religion in Australia in his address.

“For many Australians, religious forms a central part of their personal identity and value system, and it helps guide how they want to raise their families,” Mr Dreyfus said.

‘This Government will always stand for a genuinely inclusive society in which everyone belongs and everyone can participate,” Mr Dreyfus said.

While previous debates about religious freedom had been “unnecessarily divisive”, Mr Dreyfus said a genuinely inclusive society could only be achieved by working together.


Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast - Peter Dutton
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said based on the growing faith communities in Australia, the nation was “far from being a godless country”. He cited the success of Australia’s migration policies, which had led to a sustained growth of many religious groups in the country.

“Australia has embraced people of many backgrounds, many faiths, and indeed those of no faith,” Mr Dutton said.

“Religious tolerance is therefore in our national DNA but it is being tested. We must call our religious intolerance wherever it manifests, regardless of the faith it is targeting.”

ACU Chancellor Martin Daubney emphasised that everyone in a society such as Australia’s has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

“The rights of everyone must be respected – be they people of faith or people of no faith,” he said.

“And by the same token, there must be respect for the rights of religious minorities to propose their beliefs to the community, to put them into action in their service to the community, and to run their organisations on the basis of their faith-inspired missions.”

Speaking at his first Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast as ACU Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Zlatko Skrbis said the university was one of the few higher education institutions where faith was at the core of its identity.

“This annual gathering serves as a unique opportunity to provide a space for open dialogue, where conversations can take place that concern our democracy, our community, our culture, and the role that faith plays in our everyday lives,” Professor Skrbis said.

Professor Skrbis said he agreed with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who on his recent visit said people from secularised Western societies had “lost the ability to disagree well”.

Five faith leaders from five religious communities and representative bodies closed the event by reading prayers from their respective traditions:

  • Venerable Tenpa Bejanke Dium, Chairperson, Australian Sangha Association
  • Ms Elizabeth Stone, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia
  • Sardar Vickram Singh Grewal, Vice-President, National Sikh Council of Australia
  • Mr Kazuhiro Fukui, Regional Director, Sukyo Mahikari
  • Most Reverend Mykola Bychok CSsR, Bishop & Eparch, Ukrainian Catholic Church in Australia and New Zealand

View photographs from the 2022 Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast

Download the program from the 2022 event (PDF, 11.5MB)

Watch full presentation of the 2022 event here



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