Canberra: International Day of Tolerance

cifInternational Day for Tolerance was observed in the ACT on 16 November 2015 at the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre, Canberra. This event was organised by the Canberra Interfaith Forum and supported by the ACT Government.


  • Welcome and Introduction – Mr Dean Sahu Khan, Chair of Canberra Interfaith Forum (CIF)
  • Acknowledgement of Country – Mr Rod Little, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
  • Keynote Address – Dr Helen Watchirs, ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner
  • Presentations by Faith representatives
  • Mr Jason Court – Bahá’í representative
  • Venerable Tenpa Bejanke – Buddhist representative
  • Rev Chris Lockley– Christian representative
  • Mr Arvind Gupta – Hindu representative
  • Mrs Saleha Sahu Khan – Muslim representative
  • Mr Harry Oppermann – Jewish representative
  • Ms Doreen Cope – Quakers representative
  • Mr Taranjot Singh – Sikh representative
  • Mr Paul Taylor – Sukyo Mahikari representative
  • Vote of Thanks – Ms Jayanti Gupta, Media/Publicity Secretary, CIF
Chair of Canberra Interfaith Forum, Dean Sahu Khan, opens the proceedings
Chair of Canberra Interfaith Forum, Dean Sahu Khan, opens the proceedings

Extract from Keynote Talk by Dr Helen Watchirs, ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner

Today on this very important UN International Day of Tolerance the Human Rights Commission (of the ACT) launched Diversity Goes with Our Territory – it is timely with the horrific recent mass murders in Paris and Beirut, and a small scale tragedy at home in Parramatta. It actually felt useful that we had a helpful contribution to influence Canberra’s positive reaction to global terrorism. Diversity Goes with Our Territory is an exciting new social media campaign about ‘accepting and respecting each other’s differences, and in doing so, creating a supportive community’ (in the words of our Muslim sports champion Bianca Elmir). It’s a tool to help stop racism and religious prejudice, which are not common occurrences in our vibrant multicultural community. Canberra is an inclusive, compassionate and harmonious community with a proud human rights culture – we have an above average level of education and there is no excuse to be racist out of ignorance, or intolerant about multiculturalism and different faiths. However, we cannot be complacent and our strength in diversity needs to be affirmed and celebrated through vigilance and not submitting to terrorism (Canberra is better than that). I want people to be empowered to stand up against racism and intolerance – we don’t want to see the Canberra Islamic Centre attacked again like last year, but heartened that community pulled together and helped clean up.

Download the transcript of proceedings, International Day of Tolerance