Abraham Conference 2016

21ST August 2016

Affinity Intercultural Foundation together with their partners the Jewish Board of Deputies, Uniting Church of Australia and Columban Mission Institute co-hosted the 2016 Abraham Conference: Hate Speech and Violence at the Parramatta Mission Fellowship Hall on Sunday 21 August 2016.

Affinity together with its partners was pleased to welcome over 100 guests from across the business sector, education sector and the wider community. Some notable attendees are MPs Jihad Dib and Julie Owen and the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed.

We were honoured to have Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton deliver the keynote address on how hate speech and violence are intricately linked and the damages they can cause communities.

Following Dr Elton’s address, we were pleased to hear from our esteemed panellists Ari Lander, Dr Ghena Krayem, Fr Claude Mostowik, Julie Nathan, Rev. Tara Curlewis and Shk Haisam Farache on a range of topics including the effect of hate speech on their individual communities and the solutions presented to curb hate speech. At the conclusion of the program there was definitely a wider understanding of each other and the problems faced by all represented communities.

The proceedings were moderated seamlessly by David Knoll, A.M and it was a wonderful program enjoyed by all. Thank you to Kati, Briana and Manas for their efforts in organising the event and to everyone who attended.


In Conversation : Religious Freedom In A Secular & Multicultural Society

St James Institue and Affinity Intercultural Foundation co-host a discussion between Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, a Christian and a Muslim.


Keynote Speaker : Human Rights Commissioner, Mr Tim Wilson

 Guest Speaker : Assoc Prof Mehmet Ozalp

Guest Speaker : Rt Rev’d Prof Stephen Pickard

In Conversation Religious Freedom In A Secular & Multicultural Society – Q&A

Highlights from the night :


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Keynote Speaker : Human Rights Commissioner, Mr Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson was appointed Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner in Tim-WilsonFebruary 2014.

Dubbed the “Freedom Commissioner”, Tim is a proud and passionate defender of universal, individual human rights. As Commissioner he is focused on promoting and advancing traditional human rights and freedoms, including free speech, freedom of association, worship and movement and property rights.

Prior to his appointment Tim was a public policy analyst and a policy director at the world’s oldest free market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. He has also worked in trade and communication consulting, international aid and development, as well politics. He has served as a Board member of Monash University’s Council and on the Victorian Board of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

He has extensive experience in public debate and has had many regular radio and television commitments, with both commercial and public broadcasters. The Australian newspaper recognised Tim as one of the ten emerging leaders of Australian society. He has written extensively for newspapers, journals and books. He recently co-edited the book Turning Left or Right: Values in Modern Politics.

Tim graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Policy) and a Masters of Diplomacy and Trade (International Trade) from Monash University. He has also completed Executive Education at Geneva’s Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales et du Développement and the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Worldwide Academy.

Guest Speaker : Rt Rev’d Prof Stephen Pickard

Bishop-Stephen-Pickard-WEBIn September 2013 the Rt Rev’d Professor Stephen Pickard took has been Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. Professor Pickard was Head of CSU’s school of Theology from 1998 to 2006. Since then he has served as a bishop in the diocese of Adelaide and as a professorial fellow at Ripon college, Cuddesdon, Oxford. He is currently an Assistant Bishop in the Canberra-Goulburn Diocese. Professor Pickard is the author of several books, most recently Seeking the Church: an Introduction to Ecclesiology (SCM, 2012) and In-Between God: Theology, Community and Discipleship(ATF, 2011).



Guest Speaker : Assoc Prof Mehmet Ozalp

mehmet-ozalpAssociate Professor Mehmet Ozalp is an Islamic theologian, intellectual and community leader. He is the Founder and the President of ISRA Australia – Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia. In 2009, Mehmet established the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation at Charles Sturt University, Australia. Under his leadership the centre pioneered undergraduate and postgraduate Islamic studies programs. Mehmet lectures in theology, Islamic history and contemporary issues on Islam and Muslims. Mehmet also serves as the Muslim Chaplain at the University of Sydney and the Macquarie University. Mehmet is a prolific speaker on Islam and Muslims in Australia. He was awarded Australian Muslim Role Model of the year in 2012.


Guest Moderator : Associate Professor Michael Horsburgh AM

Assoc-Prof-Michael-Horsburgh-WebMichael Horsburgh taught social policy in the School of Social Work at the University of New South Wales in 1971 and in the Social Work and Arts programs at the University of Sydney from 1972 to 1999. His principal academic interests were in the history of social policy in Australia, social security and child welfare policy and the influence of Christianity on social policy. Following his retirement he served as chair of the Academic Board of the Sydney College of Divinity, which, in 2005, awarded him the degree of Doctor of Theology honoris causa. In 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medal and in 2009 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the community through the Anglican Church and through theological and social work education. He is a parishioner of St James’ King Street, and a Diocesan Reader.