NGO Pesach dinner

April 12, 2011 by Community Editor
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100 leading non-government organizations and Jewish leaders came together at a special NGO Passover Dinner in Sydney.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins with former Burmese prisoner Sher Mu Law Wee pic: Ingrid Shakenovsky

Organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies NGO Committee, it was the fifth outreach Passover dinner which the Board of Deputies has held, following others with the union , interfaith, education and local government sectors in previous years.

It was funded by the JCA LotBen Fund in memory of Lotka and Bernard Ferster.

The proceedings were led by Board of Deputies education manager Lynda Ben-Menashe, with music provided by Judy Campbell and Jocelyn, Aaron, David and Shoshi Robuck.

Guest speaker was Catherine Branson QC, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, who invited guests “to reflect on what it means to be Australian. What do we mean when we invite newcomers to our country to adopt ‘Australian values’”?

She endorsed the Australian Values Statement  “respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, freedom of religion, commitment to the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, equality of men and women and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good. Australian society values equality of opportunity for individuals, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background”.

“It is my belief,” she said, “that respect for human rights can also be the cement that binds our increasingly diverse nation together as a free, just and peaceful community.

“Although there is no hierarchy of human rights, there is one right I would like to discuss. That is the right to freedom from fear and violence. Australian statistics in this area are gravely concerning. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that one in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.[ii] A few years ago, a study involving 38,000 Australian school-aged children showed that at least half of them had experienced bullying at school.

“Sadly, violence and harassment are all-too familiar for many in the Jewish community. This is revealed in disturbing detail by the comprehensive annual report published by Jeremy Jones AM on antisemitism in Australia.

“In 2011 the Commission will launch a new initiative to empower young people in particular to oppose bullying, especially cyber-bullying, with an emphasis on empowering bystanders to speak out against bullies and provide support to victims.

“Finally, I am pleased to be able to report that the process of appointing a standalone Race Discrimination Commissioner who will form part of the Australian Human Rights Commission has commenced. The funding for this initiative was announced by the Government immediately ahead of Australia’s Universal Periodic Review before the United Nations Human Rights Council. I feel confident that this welcome development came, at least in part, as a result of community advocacy, including by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.”



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