Our speakers

Dr Brian Adams

Dr Brian J. Adams is the Director of the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue at Griffith University. As a former Rotary Peace Fellow, Brian is primarily focused on promoting respect and understanding across cultural, religious and organisational boundaries. Brian's 20+ years of work in Africa, Europe, North America and the Asia–Pacific bring a compelling international perspective to the ICD. His background in mediation, conflict management and dialogue facilitation strengthens the Centre's ability to address some of the great challenges facing the world today, while his fluency in English, French and Swahili allow him to expand the work of the ICD to marginalised groups in Australia and to troubled regions across the globe.

Brian is the founder and co-convenor of the G20 Interfaith Forum, which is an annual public dialogue platform to draw on interfaith insight and experience in developing recommendations on issues relevant to the G20 Leaders Summit. Brian is also the author of the CURe Program for Productive Diversity. This program helps create the mindset, develop the skills and establish an environment for people to value the traditions and perspectives of other and to contribute their own. It lays the foundation on which productive diversity is built.

Thomas Albrecht

Thomas Albrecht

Mr Thomas Albrecht is the Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra, with geographical responsibility for the region, which includes Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Thomas's role is to work with governments and other partners to ensure all persons of concern to UNHCR, including refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons, receive protection, assistance and durable solutions to their plight. He is also keen to promote long-term cooperation on the protection of persons of concern in the region, and to increase understanding and support for refugees worldwide.

Mr Albrecht joined UNHCR in 1987 and worked in refugee situations in the East and Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, the Americas as well as Eastern and Central Europe. These operations related to refugee protection, emergencies, capacity-building efforts as well as the advancement of durable solutions for refugees, with particular emphasis on people orientation, empowerment, gender equality, the sustainability of initiatives and results-based management. Thomas was also posted at UNHCR’s Headquarters in Geneva, where he worked in the Department of International Protection.

Carol Angir

Carol Angir

Carol is a feminist activist from Kenya with over 18 years’ experience working directly with diverse groups of women, communities on programs promoting gender equality, working on defining humanitarian action and more recently providing technical support for protection programming in crisis-both disasters and conflict. Her experience spans countries across Africa, the Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central and South Asia. Carol has been working on women’s rights advocacy, providing technical support for protection programming and women’s rights analysis in humanitarian emergencies and conflict at the local level, regional level as well as the international level.

Carol has previously worked at ActionAid Kenya and was also part of ActionAid’s International Emergencies and Conflict team where she provided leadership in starting the organisation’s first multi-country program on Responding to Violence against Women in humanitarian emergencies and conflict. She also worked for International Women’s rights funding organisations, including Mama Cash where she provided thematic lead for addressing women’s participation in leadership, governance and decision making, and supported women and girls to resist militarism and fundamentalisms. For the last five years, Carol has been the Program Manager for Women’s Rights and Emergencies for ActionAid Australia and provides technical support across the whole federation.

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Nisha Bagha

Nisha is a community mental health worker, passionate cultural dance teacher, dancer and is a member of the Kinetic Collective team.

Nisha grew up in the Queensland Gujarati community (Gujarati Association of Queensland—GAQ) and enjoys performing at community events. Her history of dance began as a Bharatnatyam Dancer (1998–2015) at the Nadanajali School of Dance under the guidance of my Guru Smt Chitra Yogi Shri Kanta.

As a dance teacher and performer for Dance Masala, Nisha has gained experience in assisting, creating and running workshops for various schools, community events and organisations such as Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma, Multicultural Development Association and Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Nisha also works as a community mental health worker for Brook RED (Recovery Empowerment and Development), a community mental health organisation.

'In my practice I use my knowledge of social work, biochemistry, cultural cooking and dance to assist in supporting the health and well-being of individuals and communities and am passionate about a creating voice for cultural Arts within the Western society.'

Nisha holds a combined Bachelor of Business (Management) and Bachelor of Applied Science (Biochemistry) and a Master of Social Work  from the Queensland University of Technology.

Keith Best

Keith Best

Dynamic, passionate, confident, enthusiastic, innovative and inspirational leader and teamworker; powerful advocate and profile raiser; accomplished speaker and networker; experienced organisational change manager; chief officer of four major not-for-profit charities assisting vulnerable groups and human rights; mature judgment and reliability; considerable voluntary work; named in Society Guardian as one of the 100 most influential people in public services in the United Kingdom.

Former Chief Executive of SurvivorsUK, Freedom from Torture, Immigration Advisory Service and Prisoners Abroad, Vice Chair of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles; served on the Foreign Secretary's Advisory Panel on Torture Prevention; barrister and MP; airborne and commando forces (Major). PPS to the Secretary of State for Wales. Currently Chairman of [1] Executive Committee of the World Federalist Movement [2] Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust [3] Charity 2020. Founder Chairman of the Association of Registered Immigration Advisers. Former Chair [1] Electoral Reform International Services [2] Electronic Immigration Network [3] Electoral Reform Society. Freeman of the City of London; author of several books and articles; keynote speeches in UK and abroad (e.g., Lyndon Johnson Memorial Lecture in Texas).

Keith speaks French, Welsh; married with two daughters; ran the London Marathon 1982; abseiled down highest hospital tower in world (Guy’s) 2009 for charity.

Conference Paper

Rachel Blaney

Building on her background as an award-winning non-profit professional, Rachel Blaney was elected in 2015 as Member of Parliament for North Island–Powell River. Rachel holds the role of Deputy Whip and Critic for Seniors for the NDP.

In advocating for seniors who were separated due to health issues and faced with poverty due to a lack of ability to access the Guaranteed Income Supplement, Rachel collaborated with the Minister to successfully close this gap. After holding 11 town halls on Seniors issues in her riding, she has become a strong advocate for a National Seniors Strategy. On the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA), Rachel is currently advocating to ensure the implementation of a National Seniors Strategy.

In her work as the Deputy Critic of Infrastructure and Communities, Rachel has been outspoken on her concerns with the Privatization Infrastructure Bank.

A repeat panelist on CTV's Power Play, Rachel has brought forth multiple issues facing Canadians. Her focus remains on the smaller, rural and remote communities like the one she represents in North Island–Powell River. In her recent work with local business communities around the Small Business Tax, Rachel raised her concerns with the unintended consequences of this policy in small, rural and remote communities. Rachel is currently drafting a document outlining the concerns raised in her riding for the Finance Minister.

'In our region, where the resource industry has taken so many hits, small businesses have really become the backbone of our economy. This small business tax could impact that, especially in many of our communities where attracting doctors is becoming increasingly hard. Government must collaborate with small communities, not forget them.'

Rachel has lived and worked in coastal communities for over 20 years. Prior to her election as a Member of Parliament, Rachel was the Executive Director of the Immigrant Welcome Centre of North Vancouver Island. The Centre grew seven-fold under her leadership, expanding services throughout the North Island—and twice winning the Chamber of Commerce's Not-for-Profit of the Year award. In that role, Rachel was constantly seeking new ways to help make communities stronger and more welcoming. Highlights include her work on the Conference Board of Canada's Leadership Roundtable on Immigration and on the Campbell River Social Planning Committee.

As a passionate advocate for responsible development that helps smaller communities thrive, Rachel believes we can build a stronger local economy by supporting small business, protecting our environment and engaging in meaningful dialogue with First Nations.

Rachel's husband, Darren Blaney, is the current Chief of the Homalco First Nation. Rachel has a step-daughter and two sons and is the proud grandmother of three beautiful step-grandchildren.

Sayyid Ibrahimul Khaleel Al Bukhari

Sayyid Ibrahimul Khaleel Al Bukhari

(Chairman, Ma’din Academy and Managing Editor of Armonia, special Journal for Holistic Education and Pluralism)

Sayyid Ibrahimul Khaleel Al Bukhari is the founder and chairman of Jamia Ma’din (Ma’din Academy), Kerala, India (www.madin.edu.in). It’s an umbrella body of various educational and charity ventures where 22 000 students are enrolled for different courses from primary to research level. He has been featured on the 'World's 500 Most Influential Muslims' list for the last five years. He is the Managing Editor of Armonia Journal (www.armoniajournal.com), an international journal promoting peace and pluralism.

Sayyid Bukhari holds positions like advisor of International Interfaith Harmony Initiative; the vice president of Muslim Educational Board of India; general secretary of Kerala Muslim Jama’at, the apex body of Muslim community in the Kerala; the president of Sunni Management Association etc.

He has travelled to around 50 countries as part of Ma’din Knowledge Hunt, a novel project to connect the cultural lands of the world.

The Annual Ramzan Prayer and Peace Conference, which has been conducting since 1986 under Sayyid Bukhari, is the largest Muslim gathering in India in the holy month of Ramadan. Sayyid Bukhari has drawn attention for his strong stand against the Islamic State and he led the largest gathering in India to take pledge against IS in the last Ramadan.

Fabrizio Carmignani

Fabrizio Carmignani is Dean (Academic), a Professor of Economics in the Griffith Business School, and Vice President of the Economic Society of Australia (Qld). His research is in the broad field of applied macroeconomics and applied econometrics. His recent publications are in the areas of conflict economics, tourism economics, policy modeling, spatial econometrics, and the economics of natural resources.

He is also a regular contributor to various media outlets, where he writes and speaks about fiscal and monetary policy issues in Australia and overseas. Between 2002 and 2009 he worked for the United Nations in various roles, including the position of First Economist in the Trade, Finance and Economic Development Division of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Fabrizio holds a PhD from the University of Glasgow and a Research Doctorate from the Universita' Cattolica in Milano.

Dr James Christie

Dr James Christie, co-convenor of the  Inaugural Commonwealth Conference, is an ordained minister of The United Church of Canada, and Professor of Whole World Ecumenism and Dialogue Theology at The University of Winnipeg. A former Dean of Theology, he is a founding Director of the Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy of the Global College of the University.

An internationalist of long standing, Dr Christie has been engaged in UN reform since 1981, and is currently Chair of Project Ploughshares, a leading Canadian member organisation of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, ICAN. Since 2007, he has been a member of the International Planning Committee for the G8 and G20 Inter-religious Summits, and served as Secretary General for the 2010 iteration.

James is an award winning essayist, with broad publication in both Canadian and international journals. His most recent work is as Canadian editor for the soon to be released, The North American Churches in the Cold War (Dr Paul Mojzes, ed., Eerdmans).

Mahinda Deegalle

Mahinda Deegalle

Mahinda Deegalle is Professor of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics at Bath Spa University, United Kingdom. He is a graduate of University of Peradeniya, Harvard University and University of Chicago. He has held Numata Professorship in Buddhist Studies at McGill University (Canada) and NEH Professorship in Humanities at Colgate University (USA). He has conducted post-doctoral research at Kyoto University, Aichi Gakuin University and International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies, Japan under the auspices of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. He has been awarded grants by the British Academy / Leverhulme Trust, British Council and Fulbright.

Mahindae is the author of Popularizing Buddhism: Preaching as Performance in Sri Lanka (SUNY 2006) and editor of Buddhism, Conflict and Violence in Modern Sri Lanka (Routledge 2006), Dharma to the UK (World Buddhist Foundation 2008), Vesak, Peace and Harmony: Thinking of Buddhist Heritage (NIBU 2015), Justice and Statecraft: Buddhist Ideals Inspiring Contemporary World (NIBU 2017) and co-editor of Pali Buddhism (Curzon 1996). He was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Buddhist-Christian Studies. He regularly appears in the BBC1 The Big Questions, BBC World Service, Aljazeera, Derana and Buddhist TV programmes. He has conducted fieldwork in Sri Lanka, Japan, Korea and China.

Adis Duderija

Adis Duderija

Adis Duderija is lecturer in Islam and Society, Griffith University. He received his PhD in 2010 from the University of Western Australia. His research interests include contemporary Islamic hermeneutics, Islam and gender, Islamic and the religious other, progressive Islam, neo-traditional Salafism, contemporary Muslim reformist thought and the role of religion in western Muslims' identity construction.

He is the author of Constructing Religiously Ideal  ‘Believer’ and ‘Muslim Woman’ Concepts: Neo-Traditional Salafi and Progressive Muslim Methods of Interpretation(Manahij) , (Palgrave, 2011) and The Imperatives of Progressive Islam (Routledge,  2017). Adis has co-authored  a book on Islamic Teachings on Contemporary Issues for Young Muslims ( 2016). He is also the editor of Maqasid Al Shari’ah and Contemporary Muslim Reformist Thought, 2014 and The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law: The Search for a Sound Hadith (Palgrave, 2015), as well as numerous academic articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries. His forthcoming book is co-authored with Halim Rane and it titled, Islam and Muslim Communities in the West: Major Issues and Debates (Palgrave, 2018)

Conference Paper

Leah Gazan

Leah Gazan

Leah Gazan is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Treaty 4 territory, Saskatchewan, Canada. She is currently teaching in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg. Leah has spent her career focused on supporting the advancement of Indigenous peoples through an advancement of fundamental Indigenous human rights across Canada. Leah has served terms on several boards including the Board of Governors at Red River College, in Winnipeg Manitoba, Manitoba lotteries research council, the Taxi Cab Board in Winnipeg, and a five-year term as President of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, a non-profit organisation committed to providing leadership and support in the area of social planning and socially responsible policy development.

Leah has been a very active participant in social movements including as a participant in Idle No More and a co-founder of the #WeCare campaign aimed at working with the broader Canadian public to ensure an end of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Most recently, Leah has been actively engaged in lobby efforts for Bill C-262, the Indigenous Human Rights Act, to ensure that a United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples is adopted and implemented in Canadian Law.

Maria Florencia Gor

Maria Florencia Gor

Maria Florencia Gor is communications coordinator for The Workable World Trust. She is currently managing the publications of Professor Schwartzberg´s book, Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, in seven languages. A Bachelor of Arts graduate in International Studies from the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Florencia is vice-president of the Argentine NGO Democracia Global and the northern coordinator for its largest campaign, COPLA (Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court Against Transnational Organized Crime). She also sits on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the World Federalist Movement-Canada, and is a Council Member of the World Federalist Movement—Institute for Global Policy.

Group Captain Anthony Graeme Hawes

Group Captain Anthony Graeme Hawes

Royal New Zealand Air Force Chaplain Ants Hawes was born and educated in Hamilton, New Zealand. On completion of high school in 1981 he took an electrical apprenticeship. In 1992 he attended Bible College and was ordained as a minister in 1995. He was minister of three churches before joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2004.

Upon completion of Initial Officer Training he posted to RNZAF Base Ohakea as the base chaplain. He was promoted to Squadron Leader in 2006 and deployed to Afghanistan as the CRIB 11 chaplain in 2007/08. Chaplain Hawes was posted to RNZAF Base Auckland in January 2009 as the senior base chaplain. He was promoted to Principal Chaplain Air in 2011. Chaplain Hawes attended Junior Staff Course in 2011 and Advanced Staff Course in 2014. He completed a Master of International Security in June 2015. Chaplain Hawes has conducted many significant NZDF ceremonial events, such as marking the signing of the Korean Armistice and representing NZDF Chaplaincy at Gallipoli services. He has presided over significant national ceremonies such as the funeral of Sir Richard Bolt and several times chaired the National Anzac Dawn Service in Wellington including the 100th centenary in 2015. Chaplain Hawes was promoted to the role of Principal Defence Chaplain for the New Zealand Defence Force in December 2015.

Ant is married to Jenny and they have three adult children. He lives in Wellington. He enjoys reading, woodworking and working on his small holding.

Dr Nur Hidayah

Dr Nur Hidayah

Dr Nur Hidayah is a lecturer at the Medical and Health Science Faculty at the State Islamic University of Alauddin Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Currently, She is Vice Dean of the Medical and Health Science Faculty. In the last five years she has focused her work on promoting, educating, and training on peace among children, students, universities and community leaders.

She is also the founder of Indonesian Community Empowerment Foundation (ISCEF) / Yayasan Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Indonesia Cerdas (YPMIC) which focuses on human resources development for health workers, research for hospital development, community empowerment and establishing the Peace Institute of South Sulawesi (PISS) with a well-known program like 'Sekolah Cerdas' the school of peace education for kindergarten students, elementary students, high school students, university students, local NGO, and also Peace Education for Mothers. Her latest work with her team is promoting 'Peace through Health Services'.

Nur has participated in several national and international workshops on pluralism, inter-religious dialogue, conflict resolution and human rights. She participated in Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, Philipphines, Sekolah Pendidikan Keragaman, Centre for Cross Religion and Cultural Studies, Gadjahmada Univeristy Yogyakarta, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Centre for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna Austria. She is also invited to speak in the 7th International Interfaith Conference 2018 in Malaysia.

Her latest achievement is Peace Educator Coordinator from Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) South Korea. Her motto is 'Peace is the way of life'.

Gerhard Hoffstaedter

Gerhard Hoffstaedter

Gerhard Hoffstaedter is a senior lecturer in anthropology at the University of Queensland. He conducts research with refugees in Southeast Asia, on refugee and immigration policy and on religion and the state. He is a regular commentator in newspapers, radio and online media on topics of his research.

His first book entitled Modern Muslim Identities: Negotiating Religion and Ethnicity in Malaysia is published by NIAS Press. A co-edited volume Urban Refugees: Challenges in Protection, Services and Policy was published with Routledge in 2015.

In 2014 he launched a social anthropology Massive Open Online Course World101x: The Anthropology of Current World Issues that has taught thousands of students how to think more anthropologically.

Dr Joseph Hongoh

Dr Joseph Hongoh

Dr Joseph Hongoh is a Conciliator with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland. He is also a sessional lecturer in courses covering Peacebuilding, Conflict Resolution and Development Studies at the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland; and a Peacebuilding and International Development practitioner with Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia (PaCISIA).

Joseph is an established facilitator, mediator, trainer, and a monitoring and evaluation consultant in the area of conflict resolution, peacebuilding and international development. Joseph is also an interdisciplinary researcher in: State-Society relations in conflict management and resolution, state-building as conflict management, politics of development, community-based approaches to managing conflicts, relations between local and external interveners, as well as peacebuilding and post conflict reconstruction.

Geographically, Joseph has extensive work experience in Africa, Asia and the Pacific including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Rwanda, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Australia. His practice work has involved undertaking conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and governance related assignments. These assignments have included design, implementation and evaluation of projects at local, national and regional levels.

Professor Ezichi A Ituma

Professor Ezichi A Ituma

Professor Ituma was the Head of Department of Religion and Cultural Studies of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he has lectured since 1998 in the special areas of Biblical Studies, Religion and Conflict Resolution and African Traditional Religion. He is the founder of Society for Research and Academic Excellence (www.academicexcellencesociety.com) and Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Research in Arts and Social Sciences as well as International Journal of Theology and Reformed Tradition. He is an astute academic and researcher, with membership in many international professional research associations; Society of Biblical Literature (US), American Association for the Scientific Study of Religion, British Sociological Association, etc. He has served as External Examiner to many Nigerian Universities at both Postgraduate and Undergraduate levels. He is a public speaker and has organised many conferences on Christian–Muslim relations/dialogue.

He was the first Convener of the National Directorate of Missions of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria and later the Assistant National Director of Missions. He was the Enugu State Public Enlightenment Officer of Special Marshals of the Federal Road Safety Commission.

Ezichi is married with four children.

Cesar Jaramillo

Cesar Jaramillo

Cesar Jaramillo is executive director at Project Ploughshares, an operating division of the Canadian Council of Churches. His areas of expertise include nuclear disarmament, conventional weapons control and outer space security. As an international civil society representative, Cesar has addressed, among others, the UN General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), the UN Conference on Disarmament, the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), state parties to the Arms Trade Treaty and state parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

He has also given guest lectures and presentations at academic institutions such as the National Law University in New Delhi, the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, and the University of Toronto. An occasional columnist on matters of disarmament and international security, Cesar graduated from the University of Waterloo with an MA in global governance and has bachelor’s degrees in honours political science and in journalism. Prior to joining Project Ploughshares, Cesar held a fellowship at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

Mansi Karajgaonkar

Mansi Karajgaonkar

Mansi Karajgaonkar is a Socialist (Founder of ChangeMakers Welfare Foundation) and Vice Chairman of Swasti Prathisthan, Doctorate in Psychology on the topic of Meditation, Psychologist (PhD). Researching on a new intervention technique in Meditation. Researched on Effect of AUMkaar (Omkaar) Meditation on Hypertension: A contribution to a happy life, Effect of Pranayama on Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), in stress among male and female patients.

A spiritualist and researcher on Vedic Methodology, also studied and practiced Pranik Healing—an Ancient Method of curing. Mansi is involved in tree plantation and nurturing of trees, leftover food distribution to the needy, psychological counselling, value-based education activities with the siftskills programs, animal protection drives, female foeticide drives and women empowerment activities.

Syed Munir Khasru

Syed Munir Khasru

Chairman, The Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG)

Syed Munir Khasru is an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, US and heads the international think tank, the Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG) whose work include international relations and strategic affairs, interfaith relations and pluralism, migration and resettlement, regional connectivity and cooperation, technology and social media (www.ipag.org). Syed has delivered lectures, made presentations and moderated sessions on all these issues. He led the team that submitted a Policy Brief on Reforming Migration Governance System for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg, Germany, 7–8 July 2017. During the 10th IDSA South Asia Conference on 28 March 2017, he spoke on the topic, 'Opportunities, Potentials, and Challenges of Connectivity in South Asia'.

He is a global expert of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and regularly writes for the WEF Agenda. He is a Member of SDG’s Global Councils initiated by the UN, World Bank, and OECD. It is a network of decision makers from governments, international organisations, private-sector, and academia for sharing innovative practices and implementing the SDGs. He writes for Project Syndicate, Straits Times, South China Morning Post, Nikkei Asian Review, Hindu and Times of India. BBC World Services interviews him for expert comments and opinions.

Kinetic Collective

Kinetic Collective

Kinetic Collective are a group of artists and change-makers who use their diverse experience to work collaboratively and develop creative approaches to challenging social and environmental issues that affect communities around the world. They develop, implement and evaluate community development projects in Australia and overseas and are passionate about building transformative relationships that can bring about lasting change. With members whose skills spread across performing arts, social work, film and media, journalism, teaching, environmental sustainability and farming, their work’s strength lies in its holistic and interdisciplinary nature.

Derek McDougall

Derek McDougall

Derek McDougall is a Professorial Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. His main field of interest is Asia–Pacific international politics, with particular reference to Australian engagement in the region. His most recent book in this field is Asia Pacific in World Politics, 2nd edition (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016).

In relation to Commonwealth affairs, Professor McDougall is an active member of the International Advisory Board for Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, contributing many articles to this journal. He has been guest editor for special issues of this journal on ‘Australia and the Commonwealth World’ and ‘Australia and the Developing World’.

In recent years Professor McDougall has been a visiting academic at both the University of Fiji and the University of Greenland. He has also been a visiting fellow at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.

Umer Melmuri

Umer Melmuri

(Director, Ma’din Academia for Research and International Studies)

Mr Umer Melmuri is the director of Ma’din Academia for Research and International Studies, Kerala, India (www.madin.edu.in). He plays active role in various interfaith and inter-religious projects like International Interfaith Harmony Initiative, an umbrella body of different interfaith groups. As a director, he has been coordinating events like International Interfaith Harmony Conference and Awards jointly organised by Prime Minister Department of Malaysia; Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, UAE; International Islamic University Malaysia; Ma’din Academy, India as part of Interfaith Harmony Week initiative of United Nations.

Mr Umer represented Ma’din Academy and presented research papers in interfaith conferences in Germany, Vatican, Malaysia, Australia and GCC countries. He is the communication director of the Annual Ramzan Congregation which is billed as the world’s third largest Muslim conference in the Holy month of Ramzan after Makkah and Madina. The main highlight of the conference is the ‘Pledge Against Terrorism and Extremism’ organised by Ma’din Academy every year in Kerala, India.

As a writer he covered various international conferences for international media and coordinated the Knowledge Hunt programme to various continents to promote mutual understanding among different groups. Email: ummermelmuri@gmail.com

Senator Claire Moore

Senator Claire Moore

Labor Senator for Queensland, Claire commenced her role as a Senator for Queensland on 1 July 2002 and her current term commenced on 1 July 2016. On 23 July 2016, Claire was appointed as the Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

Formerly she has served as the Shadow Minister for Women; Shadow Minister for Carers; Shadow Minister for Communities; and Manager of Opposition Business (Senate).

Claire is active in a number of Parliamentary Committees and Parliamentary Friendship Groups. She is a member of the National Archives Advisory Council and the National Library of Australia Council.

Claire is a proud unionist and feminist and she is passionate about women’s lives, women’s well-being, women's history, particularly within the trade union movement and the ALP, social justice, cricket, Australian and Irish folk music, detective fiction, Paul Keating and art galleries. Claire is inspired by the work done by community groups in their local communities and she is a member of many varied groups and organisations.

Claire was born in Toowoomba and studied at both the University of Queensland and the University of Southern Queensland. She commenced work with the Commonwealth Public Service in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Social Security.

SK (Steve) Moore

S K (Steve) Moore

S.K. (Steve) Moore, PhD served as a Padre in the Canadian Armed Forces for 22 years, retiring in 2012. His operational tours include pre-Dayton Accord Bosnia (1993), Haiti (1997–1998) and research at the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (2006), Afghanistan, completing his PhD in 2008. Moore conducted post-doctoral research with the, now, Canadian Army Land Warfare Center, Kingston, developing the chaplain operational capability, Religious Leader Engagement (RLE 2011), now Policy (Jan 2013) with the CAF Royal Canadian Chaplain Service and Doctrine Note (July 2013) with the Canadian Army.

He has lectured at the United Nations Training School Ireland (Dublin: 2011–2014); and is a member of the Understand to Prevent (U2P) Research Team, a British-led initiative comprised of military and civilian researches from 13 NATO and NATO-Partner nations (2015–2017). Steve created the Religion Backgrounder for the Canadian Army Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE), a digital operational environment comprised of a series of fictional countries from which scenarios are created for training purposes—participating annually on Writing Boards (PMESII and Injects) and major Army EXERCISES.

Dr Moore published Military Chaplains As Agents of Peace: Religious Leader Engagement in Conflict and Post-conflict Environments with Rowman and Littlefield (Lexington Books, 2013).

He is married to Deborah, a watercolour and portraiture artist in Ottawa with three adult sons: Ryan, Josh and Andrew.

Paul Morris

Paul Morris

Paul Morris is Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington where he holds the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious Understanding and Relations in NZ and the Pacific. Recent publications include studies of religious change in the Pacific; religion and culture in European policy and law; and, god in the prose works of J K Baxter. Current research includes migration and religion in NZ; ethnicity and religion in NZ; god and governance in the Pacific, and a monograph on god.

Paul has been a member of all six New Zealand national delegations to the Regional Interfaith Dialogues in the Asia–Pacific region; was the recipient of the International Council of Christians and Jews 2007 Gold Medal; is currently working, under the auspices of the NZ Human Rights Commission on a revised version of the National Statement of Religious Diversity; and, is a Board member of the Religious Diversity Centre of Aotearoa/NZ.

Dr Abdul Muhaimin

Dr Abdul Muhaimin is the Founder and Chairman of SPACM – Society for Peace and Conflict Management. He is the Head of the Department of Islamic and Religius Studies in the University of Haripur. He has won presidential award for his writing. He has recently been nominated for an international award, ‘Peacemaker in Action’

Dr Abbas Panakkal

Dr Abbas Panakkal is the Director of the International Interfaith Harmony Initiative, which has been organising International Interfaith Conferences in collaboration with United Nations Initiatives, the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department for Unity and Integration, and the International Islamic University Malaysia for the last seven  consecutive years. Dr Panakkal was awarded a fellowship by the King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Vienna, Austria, and another fellowship from the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue, Griffith University, Australia.

He earned his PhD degree from the International Islamic University Malaysia with a dissertation on ‘Malabar’ and is continuing research in the wider realm of Malabar Moorings in the South Pacific. Dr Panakkal is a Project Coordinator of the G20 Interfaith Summit and is actively involved in coordinating these Summits, including co-organising Pre-Conference Summits in the Middle East and South Asia. He has also organised intercultural engagements and adoption programmes for interreligious enrichment with the support of government and non-governmental agencies.

Abbas is a columnist, a poet, contributes to various newspapers and magazines, and writes and directs documentaries, including a number of documentary films.

Swami Sadyojathah

Swami Sadyojathah was born on 6.11.1969, in the Royal Family of Kerala, the southern most state of India. He finished his BTech in Mechanical Engineering. Meeting with His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during the early nineties made a complete turnaround in his whole life. The spark was more than enough to kindle the dorment traits in him to serve humanity and blossom into rarified realms of spirituality under the careful and affectionate tutelage of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Swami Sadyojathah coordinates the International activties of the Art Of Living Foundation since 1993. He is a senior faculty member of the Art of Living Programmes which helps in eliminating stress with special focus on restoring human values in society.

He is the Director, International Affairs of the Art of Living and also the Founder Director of Sri Sri College of Ayurvedic Science and Research, a centre of excellence imparting a degree in Ayurveda, The Indian System of Medicine.

Between 1993 and today Swami Sadyojathah has conducted several hundreds of workshops in over 40 countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, The Netherlands, etc.) and in many locations all over India.

He lead the core team of Art of Living volunteers in trauma relief and counseling after the devastating tsunami which hit the shores of India and Sri Lanka. Through this program hundreds of people could find solace and bring some peace to their shattered lives and minds. Most importantly, Swami is actively involved in the relief process initiated by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Sri Lanka. He was the Chief coordinator of the' International Conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia' at Oslo. He has also addressed many international conferences including Parliament of World religions which was held in Barcelona (2004) and in Melbourne (2009).

Hassan Saeed

Hassan Saeed

Hassan Saeed works for the Society for International Education as the Program Officer. He's a gold-medalist graduate of Social Sciences and Development Studies. In the past, Hassan has participated in various International Programs to meet with young people and engage them in finding solutions to the pressing problems around the globe. He's mostly engaged with social and community work nationwide in Pakistan with focusing on students and teachers development as well as community enhancement. Some of these experiences include working as Team Leader for National Citizen Service Program for one month in the United Kingdom and representing Pakistan as a delegate at A Common Word among the Youth Forum in Australia and Sudan.

Hassan has also traveled to Indonesia, Jordan, Qatar and United States to engage in cross-cultural understanding and develop the notion of global citizenship. These experiences have contributed to the overall knowledge of the trainer regarding cultural competence and being a global citizen.

Lina Salim

Lina Salim

Lina Salim is a budding interfaith activist working as a docent with Harmony Centre Singapore, a local inter-faith organisation, and a teacher of Islamic Studies for children and youth in a local Mosque in Singapore. She is a graduate of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) with a degree on Comparative Religion, with a minor in History.

Lina has a very passionate interest in working with youth in the interfaith field, and this is reflected through her participation in various interfaith dialogue sessions and conferences held in Singapore and abroad. She is also an active member of ACWAY (A Common Word Among Youth), an international youth network of activists, and has delivered several activities in promoting religious understanding and harmony.

Rev (Chaplain) John Saunders

Rev (Chaplain) John Saunders

Chaplain John Saunders is a minister of the Uniting Church in Australia, serving as a Chaplain in the Australian Army. Following a career in teaching, Chaplain Saunders joined the Australian Army in 1999 and has served in bases around the country with a variety of combat, logistic and support units. Chaplain Saunders deployed on operations to Afghanistan in 2011–12, where he was involved in deliberate religious leader engagement with Muslim clerics, both civilian and within the Afghan National Army (ANA). He was also a mentor to ANA religious officers.

Currently, he is ministering to Defence personnel at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera. Chaplain Saunders is married to Jan and they have two adult children.

Dr Sven Schottmann

Dr Sven Schottmann

Dr Sven Schottmann obtained his PhD in Asian Studies from Monash University, Australia. He is the Director of International, Arts, Education and Law Group at Griffith University. His research interests are in the areas of Interfaith Dialogue, Southeast Asian Islam and International Relations.

Dr Schottmann believes that education transforms lives and communities.

Venerable Chueh Shan

Venerable Chueh Shan

Venerable Chueh Shan is the Abbess of Chung Tian Temple and Principal of the Chung Tian Chinese School of Queensland.

Chung Tian Temple is an important venue of religious and cultural studies and research for the wider community with over 10  000 primary, secondary and tertiary students visiting each year. On the weekends, English speakers partake in Buddhist, Meditation, Tai Chi and Chinese Arts Classes. As an ongoing community service, teachers conduct Buddhist classes in local schools as well as Mandarin Chinese classes for children and adults. A key event for the Temple is the annual Buddha Birth Day Festival. Attracting over 200 000 visitors, the Festival is renowned for promoting peace and harmony among Brisbane’s diverse cultures and beliefs.

Celebrating a quarter of a century as a Buddhist monastic, Venerable Chueh Shan’s future is devoted to promoting Humanistic Buddhism, which utilises Buddhism to fit the needs of a modern world.

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Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander

Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander

Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is an international author, peace-activist, trainer and public speaker. Born and raised in Kashmir, India, he graduated from the International Islamic University Malaysia majoring in Psychology with a Theology minor. He published his first book, The True Purpose of Life at the age of 17, making him one of the world’s youngest published authors. He also translated a work by Mufti Taqi Usmani called Beyond the World on ‘near death experiences’.

He is also the Founder and Director of Inspire ME Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works for Youth Empowerment in India and conducts counselling, workshops, lectures, conferences, discussions and dialogue towards peace and harmony for Refugees and Youth in Conflict. Inspire ME Foundation is the first and only youth centre of Kashmir providing free peace education and empowerment programs. Over the past few years, Yaqeen has extensively travelled to deliver lectures and workshops across many countries.

Currently, a Master’s student of Guidance and Counselling Psychology at Marmara University, Istanbul, Yaqeen loves writing, camping, story-telling and philosophy. Working on his third book about self-help and spirituality (available by next year), he is also an aspiring poet and novelist. He can be reached at www.yaqeenulhaq.com.

Sarva Daman Singh

Sarva Daman Singh

Professor Sarva Daman Singh, BA(Hons), M.A., PhD (University of London), PhD (University of Queensland, Australia), F.R.A.S., was born at Angai, in District Mathura of Uttar Pradesh, India; and migrated to Australia in 1974.

He won many awards and five gold medals during the course of a distinguished educational career at the universities of Lucknow and London. He has taught at the University of Lucknow; National Academy of Administration, Government of India, Mussoorie; Vikram University, Ujjain; and the University of Queensland, Australia; and held chairs of Indian History, Culture and Archaeology. He is at present Director of the Institute of Asian Studies, Brisbane.

Sarva has travelled widely, and lectured at universities and institutions in India, Sri Lanka, UK, France, Germany, the US., South Korea, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

Apart from his contributions to numerous books, his publications include Ancient Indian Warfare with Special Reference to the Vedic Period (E.J. Brill, Leiden), with later editions brought out by Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi; The Archaeology of the Lucknow Region (Paritosh Prakashan, Lucknow); Polyandry in Ancient India (Vikas and Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi); Culture through the Ages (B.N. Puri Felicitation Volume), Agam, Delhi; The Art of Pir Tareen-Evocation of Beauty in Life and Nature, published by the Institute of Asian Studies, Brisbane; and Indians Abroad, Hope India Publications and Greenwich Millennium Press Ltd, Gurgaon and London. His latest book, Understanding Gandhi: A Mahatma in the Making, will be out soon.

As Honorary Consul of India in Queensland (2003–11), he has addressed numerous forums, always stressing the indivisibility of humanity, and its cultural diversity as a natural expression of its floriferous creativity.

Maha Sinnathamby

Maha Sinnathamby

Chairman, Springfield Land Corporation

Few people can say they have not only conceived a city but built one. Maha Sinnathamby can.

Born in Malaysia, he is the visionary and founder of Greater Springfield, Australia’s fastest emerging new city which in 2010 was declared World’s Best Master Planned Community (as awarded by the International Real Estate Federation). Greater Springfield was also the winner of 2014 President’s Award at the Urban Development Institute of Australia Qld (UDIA) and has received similar awards on two other occasions.

As Chairman of Springfield Land Corporation, Maha is committed to changing the community building paradigm by creating a sustainable, truly master-planned city where being able to live, learn, work and play is at the core of its architecture.

He constantly reminds us that Education is the currency of the future and is fundamental to Greater Springfield’s design. Health and IT have also become strong interconnecting pillars of what has been described as a building block of the Australian nation.

Maha enjoys the support of three levels of Government that together with private capital have invested nearly $12 billion dollars in Greater Springfield’s world class infrastructure and construction. His city-building project is growing by an average $600 million annually and contributes considerable social and economic value to the Queensland and Australian economies.

Both as a civil engineer and dedicated community builder, Maha has become a leading example of what can be achieved through persistence and planning. His inspirational book, titled Stop Not Until the Goal is Reached published by Wiley and Sons in 2012, can be found on the shelves of many local schools and institutions.

Though never the goal, Maha has been recognised with many accolades. They include:

  • an honorary doctorate from the University of Southern Queensland for his contribution to education
  • a Centenary Medal by the Australian government for his contributions to regional development
  • the 2003 Ernst and Young Master Entrepreneur of the Year (Northern Region)
  • the Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International
  • Australian Institute of Management Medal for Management Innovation
  • The Global Organization for People of Indian Origin’s International Renowned Entrepreneur Excellence Award
  • 2015 Newscorp declared Maha one of Queensland’s 50 Top Thinkers of all time; and
  • the BrandLaureate Great Entrepreneur Brand ICON Award 2015.

Sherrie M Steiner

Sherrie M Steiner

Sherrie M Steiner, PhD (1998), Washington State University, is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Her publications on environment and religion include Moral Pressure for Responsible Globalization: Religious Diplomacy in the Age of the Anthropocene, International Studies in Religion and Society, Volume 30 (2018, Brill), and 'Is Religious Soft Power of Consequence in the World Today?' in Jean-Guy A. Goulet (editor) Experiencing Religion in the Contemporary World, Religious Diversity Today, Volume 3 (2016):1–4 (Praeger).

Sherrie has served as Special Rapporteur for Interfaith Summits for 2010 (Canada), 2011 (France), 2012 (USA), 2015 (Turkey), 2016 (China), and 2017 (Germany). She also conducts scholarship of engagement research in collaboration with Blackford County Concerned Citizens, a community-based citizens group committed to improving public health and the quality of life in Blackford County, Indiana. A pilot study was published as 'A Prestudy Curricula-as-Research Model for Scholarship of Engagement: Combining Continuous Service with Discontinuous Learning' in Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Volume 2:67–102.

Conference Notes

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Lemi Taefu

Lemi Taefu

Taefu Lemi is an accountant by profession; a graduate of La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. He is currently serving his second term in Parliament; first term as Associate Minister for Justice Courts Administration and currently as Associate Minister for Natural Resources and Environment.

His prestigious career in finance spanned over decades having worked in the public and private sectors in Samoa and in the Pacific region. Before he ventured into politics, Taefu was the Campus Manager for the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Samoa. Taefu is a graduate of Malua Bible School and currently undertaking a UNDP funded Law program at USP, with 18 other Parliamentarians of the Samoa. He is a member of PGA (Parliamentarians for Global Action) and GOPAC (Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption) where he is currently a member of the Audit Committee. Taefu serves on a number of boards for private entities and NGOs.

Setsuko Thurlow

Setsuko Thurlow

Hiroshima survivor and ICAN campaigner. Setsuko Thurlow was a 13-year-old schoolgirl when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on her city, Hiroshima. Today, she is a leading figure in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Her powerful speeches have inspired countless individuals around the world to take action for disarmament.

She was instrumental in the creation of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in July 2017 with the support of 122 nations. For decades, she has warned governments that inaction is not an option— nuclear weapons must be totally eliminated if we are to ensure that no other city ever suffers the same fate as hers.

Setsuko’s courageous advocacy, sharp analysis and deep conviction make her a formidable opponent to all who claim that these ultimate weapons of mass destruction are legitimate instruments of defence. A living witness to the horrors of nuclear war, she has contributed enormously to the success of ICAN over the past decade.

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Rev Dr Upolu Lumā Vaai

Rev Dr Upolu Lumā Vaai

Rev Dr Upolu Lumā Vaai (PhD) is Associate Professor and Head of Theology and Ethics at the Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji. He is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Samoa and a member of the Commission on Mission and Theology of the Pacific Conference of Churches. He is the architect of ‘Pacific relational hermeneutics’; chief editor of the ‘relational renaissance series’ published by the University of the South Pacific Press; and also an advocator of Pacific/Oceanic relational theology, philosophy, and ethics.

Rev Vaai is currently working on reviewing the work/structure of the Pacific Conference of Churches through a new framework called ‘Relational Ecumenism’. He is the co-founder of the Pacific Itulagi Research Network (PIRN), that focuses on relational frameworks to rethink development in the Pacific. Vaai sits in the anti-corruption committee of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC). He also sits in the editorial board for the Pacific Journal of Theology, as well as three other international journals. His recent books are Relational Hermeneutics: Decolonising the Mindset and the Pacific Itulagi (2017) and The Relational Self: Decolonising Personhood in the Pacific (2017), published by the University of South Pacific Press. Upolu is currently working on projects, The Relational Structure of Life in the Pacific and Pacific Relational Philosophies of Life.

Andrew West

Andrew West is a journalist and broadcaster who currently presents The Religion and Ethics Report on Radio National at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He was a reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun-Herald and The Australian, and is the author of two books on Australian politics and culture, including a biography of the former Foreign Minister and NSW Premier Bob Carr. Andrew has participated in and reported on several major conferences of the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue, including last year’s G20 conference in Potsdam, Germany.

His work has appeared in The Best Australian Political Writing (MUP, 2008), The New York Times, The South China Morning Post, and The Monthly and The Christian Science Monitor. He has been a regular fill-in host of two flagship RN programs, Late Night Live and Saturday Extra, and a correspondent for BBC Religion.

Andrew is a graduate of the University of Sydney and Columbia University in New York City. In 2013, the alumni of the University of Sydney elected him a Fellow of the Senate, the university's governing body.

Professor Ahmad F Yousif

Professor Ahmad F Yousif is currently working at the Faculty of Usuluddin, Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University, Brunei Darussalam. He previously taught at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), and was the Director of International Institute of Wasatiyyah affiliated with the International Islamic University Malaysia.

Professor Yousif also taught at the University of Winnipeg and University of Ottawa in Canada as well as University of Brunei Darussalam. He has written a number of books and published over a dozen articles in the fields of Islamic Studies and Social Sciences. The most recent book is Studies in World Religion: An Introduction to Monotheism, 2nd ed., (UNISSA Press, 2017).

Conference Paper