Religious groups have united to form a new peak body, representing their common interests at all levels of government.
Premier Chris Minns joined more than 200 faith leaders and community members at a gala dinner on Tuesday night, October 3, to celebrate the launch of Faith NSW, an ecumenical coalition of faith groups across the state.
The coalition - comprised of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist communities - aims to build stronger relationships between the faith communities, and foster greater engagement with the NSW Government on common issues and areas of need, such as religious freedoms and religious education.
Also present at the launch were the NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, Minister for Multiculturalism Steve Kamper, and Lakemba MP Jihad Dib.
The event, held at Sydney Olympic Park, saw a special Faith Award presented to Mr Mookhey and Mr Dib for their unwavering support and friendship to faith communities in recent years. Also presented on the night was a Churchill Fellowship Report on best practice in religious education, by Faith NSW CEO Murray Norman.
Premier Chris Minns said he was honoured to attend the night, saying that “New South Wales is enriched by our vibrant multi-faith communities.”
Faith NSW co-chairs Darren Bark and Surinder Jain thanked the NSW Government for their support. They added that NSW was one of the most multicultural states in the world, and that Faith NSW “will continue to work together to ensure all people of faith have the freedom to practice that faith, and live safely and securely in our cohesive, multicultural society.”
Faith NSW, also known as Better Balanced Futures, works to represent the united faith communities across Australia and NSW, to foster mutually respectful relationships between the faith communities, and to engage with all levels of government to address common causes and interests.
CEO of Christian Media and Arts Australia, Nathan Brown says, “It is refreshing to see the NSW Government recognise what faith communities contribute to our society and culture in launching Faith NSW. Faith NSW provides a valuable forum for Christians, and other faith leaders to work with government on areas and concerns we have in common, including things like freedom of speech or employing Christian teachers in Christian Schools or Jewish teachers in Jewish schools for instance. Already the combined work of Better Balanced Futures has enabled bipartisan support for Scripture in Schools (SRE) in NSW. This is a welcome next step in our ability to work with Government to ensure faith is valued and advanced in NSW.”
The organisation strives to “build a more socially cohesive society that celebrates and upholds a rich freedom of religious belief and practice.”