Together for Humanity is a multi-faith, not for profit foundation that aims to help schools, organisations and the wider community respond constructively to differences of culture or belief.

Starting in May 2002, their first program was held at St Ives North Primary School where they invited students to join with people of all faiths to look at changing the world. They were told that together they could make a quilt with their messages and hang it off the harbour bridge or the parliament. And so In March 2004 over 1,000 children sat on Macquarie Street as their messages covered the NSW Parliament House.

Together for Humanity is very focused on engaging children to draw their own conclusions about how to respond to differences. Much of their work is focused around educating children in a school setting.

This generally involves a panel of multi-faith presenters encouraging students to explore and understand stereotypes and assumptions, as well as giving them the opportunity to ask the diverse presenters questions about their own faith or culture. As well as having Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and other presenters, they also hold inter-school programs where students from different geographical, socio-economic, cultural and religious backgrounds come together to learn more about each other.

In looking at recent social tensions, Mr Zalman Kastel, National Director for Together for Humanity, said: “Relationships are key to improving bonds between Muslim and Non-Muslim Australians, preventing alienation and ultimately preserving social cohesion and security. This needs to be mutual.” And looking forward he added: “At Together for Humanity we have found that it is often the outsiders, the Muslim teenagers, who are the most motivated to form connections.

Sadly the goodwill of the ‘outsider’ is sometimes weakly reciprocated. It is time to redouble our efforts to understand and embrace all our neighbours, even those with perfectly legal practices or opinions one may strongly and legitimately object to.”

Together for Humanity have big plans for 2016, as they plan to host an Inclusive Communities Youth Summit at Parliament house, bringing together students from various religious and cultural backgrounds to workshop initiatives to make our society more inclusive.

They have also introduced a new Australian curriculum / NSW syllabus aligned workshops, “Celebrations of our Diverse Communities” and “Our Diverse and Connected People and Places”. Both workshops emphasise the importance of inter-cultural understanding and respect for diverse cultures.

Their programs are being offered to schools free-of-charge because of a grant from the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Together for Humanity is leading the way but needs more support from the greater community. The world needs to move forward and to embrace diversity and goodwill.

See more details on

www.togetherforhumanity.org.au/

FOOTNOTE:

Following the last story of the Music for Refugees band performing in Sydney, readers can view their performance on

www.youtu.be/jGbfUzJjGDM and

youtube.com/watch?v=kRMhgAyO6vQ