Notice: Opening of Book of Condolences
Multi-Faith Memorial Service and Peace Vigil in Canberra
A well-attended multi-faith memorial service and peace vigil was held at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Forrest, Canberra on 23 April 2019 at 7.00 pm to honour and pray for the victims, the injured and their families from the Easter Sunday explosions in Sri Lanka.
The attendees were welcomed by Fr. Daniel Benedetti and a message from the Archbishop Christopher Prowse was read in Sinhala , Tamil and English.
Members of the clergy representing the Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Christian and Islam faiths the main religions of Sri Lanka delivered the prayers and blessings.
The High Commissioner Skandakumar in a brief and solemn address thanked the Sri Lankan community for the manner in which they had all come together to express their grief and condolences and join in prayer to pay respect to those who had died in the explosions.
He acknowledged with gratitude the presence of His Excellency the Governor-General and the wider Australian Community.
The Governor- General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, Ambassadors, Senators and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade , and a cross section of Australians made up the gathering that exceeded 500 in numbers. Earlier in the afternoon, The Governor-General signed the condolences book opened at the Sri Lanka High Commission as the first visitor.
In a peace vigil, Sri Lankans and Australians, lit candles at the end of the service.
The event was jointly organised by the Sri Lankan Community and the Sri Lanka High Commission.
Tuesday, 23 April 2019
I wish to offer my heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones in the devastating Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Batticaloa, Colombo and Negombo in Sri Lanka.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Sri Lanka and all affected communities in NSW.
An attack on people praying peacefully in their place of worship is an attack on all of society. More than ever, we need to stand united across cultures and religions to reject hatred, fear and division.
On behalf of the NSW Government, I offer our deepest sympathies to the Sri Lankan community and Christian communities of NSW.
The Hon John Sidoti MP
23 April, 2019
The Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, together with Sri Lankan Consul General Mr W.G.S Prasanna, wish to extend an invitation to members of the Sri Lankan community and their supporters to attend a commemorative service with prayers for peace, to remember those who perished in the recent terror attacks in Sri Lanka, at 6pm on Sunday 28 April, at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne.
We will also be praying for those who mourn loved ones, for the injured and distressed, and for all those committed to
the work of peace.
Although this will be a Christian service, those of any faith, or of no particular faith, are very welcome to
Please feel free to publicise this event amongst the communities you lead. I hope you will be able to join
The Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe
Dean of Melbourne
Source: Stellar Magazine
After 12 years of shuttling between Australia and the US, the TV presenter and designer is finally back home for good.
You worked with Oprah Winfrey for four years on her talk show. When you were in her presence, did you just feel, well, more enlightened?
She’s definitely one of the most inspirational people that I have ever worked with. She is genuine, down-to-earth, intelligent and extremely generous — my entire US career wouldn’t have happened without her.
I also worked extremely hard, of course. She understood my work ethic. It was a great period of my life. But I will say, it’s really nice to be home.
Durie with Oprah Winfrey. (Photography: Supplied)
Yes, after 12 years of shuttling between Australia and the US, you’re now back as a judge on Seven Network’s House Rules, the new guy alongside Wendy Moore and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. What’s your style — harsh or nice?
I sit somewhere right in-between Laurence and Wendy. I have been told I’m a little too nice. I’m working on that [laughs].
What is your biggest design no-no?
You need to know when to take your foot off the gas and bring in professionals for areas you’re not qualified in. As DIY designers, we tend to bite off more than we can chew and end up spending more money than if we had hired a professional from the beginning.
You are now 48, and your daughter Taylor is in her 20s. Has she shown a knack for your vocation?
You hosted The Block in 2003 and 2004. All these years later it’s still a hit, while House Rules is going into its seventh year. Why do people love renovation and design shows?
I have been in television for 22 years in Australia; I’ve not been off air for one year. All of those shows have been design TV shows.
What never ceases to amaze me is that Australians never get sick of fresh ideas when it comes to feathering our own nests. That is why lifestyle shows are a part of our daily diet now.
You passed hosting duties for The Block to your good friend Scott Cam, who you know from your Backyard Blitz days. Do you still keep in touch?
Yeah, we do. We have reunions every so often. We have a great ol’ laugh every time we share a beer together. We have a lot of history and he’s a great man. We forged a lot of very special friendships in those days.
You’ve always embraced your one-time career as a stripper with the group Manpower in the ’90s. If the guys got back together for a reunion tour, would you throw your hat — or any other piece of clothing — into the ring?
No [laughs]. But I will say I had the time of my life; it was an experience I’ll never forget. I’ll always have those great memories, travelling the world and performing.
Now I’m doing a different kind of performance talking about what I’m really passionate about: design.
Durie (third from left) was in the group Manpower back in the ‘90s. (Photography: Supplied)
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much for your incredibly warm and beautiful welcome. I feel quite overwhelmed with the beauty of this place and more importantly the beauty of the people, from the youngest to the oldest here today. On a day like this – as the monks were just laying blessings over us – it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the beauty of the human spirit. Because the terrible events that took place in your mother land in Sri Lanka were assault on that beauty, were assault on the innocence of human life and it’s incredibly sad.
I’ve visited Sri Lanka on a number of occasions and I’ve always been struck by the absolute beauty of the people as I met with them around the country, from the north to the south, to the east to the west. Sri Lanka is a multicultural country. It has people from many different faiths and many different traditions. Like here in our own country, Sri Lanka celebrates its diversity, its faith diversity. Sri Lanka is a country that has known great pain, through 30 years of civil war. Since the end of that civil war it has been a decade since we’ve seen such violence in that place. We don’t know yet who was responsible for this violence. But I do know this; hate and evil are what sits behind any such attacks. They are the enemies of peace. They are the enemies of the innocence that we saw as those beautiful young girls were dancing for us today, that’s what we stand against as a country, as a nation, as a people drawn from many different backgrounds and faiths. We stand here together and we look at these young people and we are full of hope. We are full of love, because love conquers fear. Love conquers evil. Love is the basis of peace and it is what binds us all together as an Australian people, but more broadly as people all around the world.
So our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters there in Sri Lanka who on the most holy of days to Christians, to be attacked in their place of worship, to be targeted in that way, was unthinkable at any other time, but these days, too often is occurring. So I want to thank you all very much for the ability to come here today and celebrate the positivity and the optimism and the hope that we all share.
Faith, belief, culture; all of this is at the heart of community which we see on the display, which I find quite overwhelming here this morning. That is our response; to celebrate that faith, culture and belief that binds communities together in the way it does here. That’s why I am very pleased to be here with Jason today, who has always been a champion of the many different communities that make up our Australian community here in the seat of La Trobe. His passion for investing in the continued strength of the community, not just to be there to celebrate and to be part of the wonderful times when communities can come together and celebrate, but at difficult times like this. At difficult times when the community relies on each other, on their belief and their faith and their ties.
This is why we make these investments. We have a $10 million investment in cultural language education which I announced a few months ago, which will include programmes like the ones that are being run here. But today I’m pleased to announce, in addition to the support we’ve always already provided to this facility which the young people spoke so beautifully and eloquently about, that we’re committing a further $280,000 to that project here.
I commend Jason for his advocacy on this, but particularly he knows he’s simply the champion for the wonderful community that is on display. How could we not respond to the beauty and the strength of this wonderful community that is enriching the lives of this part of the nation? So for Jenny and I, it’s very special to be here today Jason, thank you so much. Thank you so much for your beautiful and warm welcome, it’s been a great privilege to be here with you today. I want to thank you all very much and I look forward to coming again. Once you seen that dance, you’ve got to come back for more.
They just look so gorgeous dancing there with the beautiful violin music, so congratulations and peace be with you today.
THE HON SCOTT MORRISON MP
Sunday 21 April 2019
The Australian Government condemns these further terrorist attacks that we’ve seen, bombings in Sri Lanka of Christians as they went to worship on Easter Sunday and bombings in hotels, all coordinated as part of a deadly terrorist attack.
Sri Lanka hasn’t seen this form of violence since 2009 when the hostilities ceased in that country and there are many Australians who are regularly travelling in Sri Lanka. Our mission in Colombo will be following through on the safety of those Australians. I would encourage any Australians who have any information about their family or their friends who may be travelling in that area or who are seeking further information, to call the 1300 555 135 number and pass that information on to them.
We’ve been in contact with our mission staff in Sri Lanka and been able to confirm their safety. But as I said, there are many Australians who do travel in this area and the information that is coming out of Sri Lanka is very confused at this point, as you’d expect it to be after such an horrific incident. But there are reports of 138 deceased and over 400 injured.
As the day passes and the night passes, as we move into the next few days I’m sure the information will become even more sickeningly real. The devastating nature of this horrific attack on innocent lives simply going about their day, going to worship on the holiest of days on the Christian calendar, is just absolutely devastating.
So I reach out particularly to our Sri Lankan community here in Australia and I know they will be feeling it very deeply. To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support – and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need. The information at this stage is just too inconclusive to provide further details. But as further details are received, obviously we’ll be looking at them carefully. I’m being kept up to date regularly on events, particularly as they may apply to Australians who may be in the area. I’ve ensured that the Leader of the Opposition has been fully briefed also this evening, we’ll be keeping them advised of developments as they proceed.
But at this time, at this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack. We still don’t know what or who was responsible for this or what their motivation was, but we do know that innocent lives have been stolen once again. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all of those who are bereaved tonight, us included as we just share their sorrow.
Media contact: Rosa Stathis
Source: Financial Times – Sri Lanka
RMIT team in discussion with local authorities to capture local practices
Presentation on development of asset Management plans by Brimbank City Council (Melbourne)
Initiative under Local Government Enhancement Sector Project – Asset Management Software
An exciting new project entitled ‘Asset Management Software Development, Implementation and Training,’ funded by the Asian Development Bank under the Local Government Enhancement Sector project, is building capacity in Sri Lankan Local Governments, in optimised management of community infrastructure.
The asset types covered under the project include buildings, roads, bridges, drainage, land, vehicles and equipment, streetlights, water supply schemes and solid waste management facilities, all managed by the local councils in Sri Lanka. The project is led by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Melbourne, Australia.
The concept of the project was formulated when H.T. Kamal Pathmasiri, the Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government of Sri Lanka, visited Australia on a study tour coordinated by Prasanna Gamage, the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Melbourne.
Pathmasiri visited a number of local councils in Australia and the RMIT University and observed the advances made in the practice through the RMIT University and local council collaborations in Melbourne. Pathmasiri and Gamage were very keen to transfer the knowledge from Australian practice to Sri Lanka.
The project will implement the tools and technologies developed by RMIT University, currently implemented by a number of local councils in Australia, including City of Melbourne, in Sri Lankan councils. The project team, led by Professor Sujeeva Setunge, Deputy Dean (Research and Innovation) and Head/Civil Engineering of RMIT, has created the base asset management software platform entitled “Central Asset Management System” (CAMS), developed with the support from Australian Government, Municipal Association of Victoria, VicRoads and eight local councils.
The system developed had input from urban and rural councils as well as seven regions of VicRoads and therefore is adaptable to deliver the best appropriate practice for any selected council in Sri Lanka.
The pilot project has successfully been commenced in Sri Lanka in the Pradeshiya Sabhas of Kundasale, Galendindunuwewa, Bingiriya, Bentota, Ruwanwella, Haldummulla and Panadura. The RMIT team and the infrastructure asset manager from the City of Brimbank, Melbourne, Dominic Di Martino, visited the seven Pradeshiya Sabhas and conducted several workshops on asset management, demonstrated the software platform, captured current practices, confirmed the assets to be covered, identified available data on asset inventories and developed a plan for delivering the project on time. The project will capture all the asset inventories, collect the current condition of all assets and deploy the fully populated software platform to the local councils by the end of 2019.
The project also offers an excellent opportunity to develop research capabilities at the University of Moratuwa in the field of infrastructure asset management, through a joint doctoral research project between RMIT University and the University of Moratuwa.
Vajira Wickramasinghe, a doctoral student from Moratuwa University, has already started his Ph.D. research on this subject, under the supervision of Prof. Sujeeva Setunge and Prof. Priyan Dias of RMIT University. Further, the undergraduate students of the University of Moratuwa will be engaged and trained in data collection for the project in the future.
Source: SBS News
Armidale in northern NSW prides itself on being one of Australia’s most multicultural cities.
City councillor and Foundation for Regional Development CEO Peter Bailey says the town is a melting pot of more than 70 nationalities.
“We have about 75 different languages spoken here, we’ve had a mosque here since about 1950,” Mr Bailey said.
“We are diverse, we embrace change, we embrace difference, and I think that’s been one of our strengths.”
The University of New England is at Armidale’s multicultural heart and has about 1000 international students at any given time.
“I think to discover the real Australia you have to go regional and Armidale is one of the best places you can explore the real Australia,” said Saluza Chaudhary, an international student from Nepal.
Many international students are drawn to the region by the promise of a more peaceful lifestyle.
“I thought if I studied in big cities maybe I’d go shopping every day and ignore study, so I think this is quite a good place to study,” said Chinese nursing student Aimee Li.
Sri Lankan Zoology academic Nirosha Ranawaka moved to Armidale with her family to complete further research. The only thing she claims to miss is a place to practise her religion.
“The main thing that lacks for me is we don’t have a Buddhist temple here, and my girls do traditional dancing, but we don’t have classes that they can go to,” she said.
After growing up in India and studying in London, it’s the reduced cost of living that attracted aged care worker Jaison Verghese to the country rather than a major city.
“I lived in Brisbane for almost three months, and then two years in Armidale. I never want to go back to Brisbane, I want to get settled in Armidale because the expenses are comparatively less,” he said.
His colleague Sangita Kharel from Nepal says one downside of living in regional Australia is a lack of employment options for new migrants.
“It’s difficult to find a job in Armidale,” she said.
“If someone gets a job it’s really easy to settle here, but if we don’t get a job it’s hard to stay.”
But local employers say they rely on migrants to fill their workforce.
“Probably 24-25 per cent of our total workforce is made up of migrant, visiting employees,” said Autumn Lodge Aged Care CEO Greg Clarke.
“We have an open employment policy and are quite accepting of internationals.”
As part of its pre-election budget, the Coalition has allocated more than $60 million for what it calls ‘social cohesion measures’, including local sport, language programs and community hubs, to help migrants become integrated into their community.
Aged care worker Mr Verghese says those sorts of programs would help ease the transition for new migrants.
“If we had a sports club or something where we could go after work to entertain us or something, that would be a great thing, because at the moment we don’t have anything like that,” he said.
The Coalition is also promising incentives for new migrants to study and work in regional communities through scholarships, new visas and pathways to permanent residency.
Incumbent member for New England Barnaby Joyce says community towns are particularly welcoming to new members.
“Although people sometimes read people in regional areas as having an Akubra and elastic sided boots we also have a great sense of compassion, and we welcome them into our areas and make sure we do everything that we can to support them,” Mr Joyce said.
Nepalese student Saluza Chaudhary agrees.
She says the people she passes on her morning walks make life in Armidale a unique experience.
“Everybody with their little dogs on a morning walk say ‘hello, good day’ and it makes me really feel like it’s a good day, it’s really a good day.”