In its tenth year the Australia-Thailand Institute’s flagship Next Generation Community Leaders’ program brought emerging leaders from the southern border provinces of Thailand to meet multicultural communities in Australia and to learn about Australian approaches to democracy and human rights.
The visit from 22-28 February 2015 provided seven emerging leaders of differing faiths the opportunity to learn about the richness and complexity of Australian society. Highlights included a lecture by RMIT’s Dr Nattavud Pimpa on Australia’s approach to multiculturalism and education, a visit and round table discussion on community outreach at SBS Radio, and meetings with Islamic, Greek Orthodox, Buddhist and Christian communities in the Dandenong area, one of Melbourne’s fastest growing and most ethnically diverse regions.
The group visited the Islamic Museum of Australia in Melbourne to learn about the contribution of Islamic communities to Australian culture and society over the last two centuries. The group also met the Victorian Electoral Commission and senior state and local government representatives. A meeting with NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mr Nick Kaldas APM provided insight into how the police work to establish trust and good relationships within the multicultural community of Sydney. Councillor Angela Long of Greater Dandenong Council talked about the role of local government in bringing diverse communities together in Victoria.
These visits promote awareness in Thailand of Australia’s multiculturalism and interfaith practices. The visits provide opportunities for closer people-to-people links and ongoing collaboration between organisations and broader communities.