On Sunday June 7th 2015, around 650 people from the Mornington Peninsula community came together to celebrate at the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Festival. This annual festival is a celebration of diversity - a celebration of multifaith, multiculturalism, and a celebration of diversity within community.

The opening ceremony began with Aboriginal elder Uncle Lionel Lauch who gave an Acknowledgement to Country and an explanation of a Smoking Ceremony. This was followed by speeches from the Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Councillor Ms Bev Colomb, and the Acting Chairman of the Victorian Multicultural Commission Mr Ross (Spiro) Alatsas.

if7-2015Aboriginal elder Uncle Lionel Lauch and Mornington Peninsula Mayor Bev Colomb

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Brian Stahl (Order of Australia Regional Group) presents Jan Withers (Girl Guides Victoria) the 2015 Community Award (left)
Mr Ross (Spiro) Alatsas, Acting Chairman of the Victorian Multicultural Commission (right)

The opening ceremony included a Multifaith blessing conducted by faith leaders from various faith traditions on the Mornington Peninsula and surrounding areas. The blessing was beautifully conducted by Reverend Hans Christiansen and Judy O'Donnell, members of the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network.

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Faith leaders provide a blessing to the community during the opening ceremony

The opening ceremony concluded with Brian Stahl, Chairperson of the Order of Australia Mornington Peninsula Group, giving recognition to Girl Guides Victoria for the contribution their members have made to the community. Mrs Jan Withers, Southern Region Manager, accepted the award on behalf of Girl Guides Victoria. This was followed by the Girl Guides Southern Region Signers entertaining the crowd with three beautiful campfire songs.

if4-2015Girl Guides Southern Region Signers signing campfire songs

Upon the conclusion of the opening ceremony, a number of community building workshops commenced including Laughter Yoga, Choir Singing and African Drumming & Dancing.

if8-2015One Voice Choir Singing

if9-2015African Drumming and African Dancing workshops

A number of colourful multifaith and multicultural stands were open during the day with delicious food provided by the Hare Krishnas. Special activities were provided for the kids, including face painting, indigenous jewellery making, australian animal clay sculpturing and boomerang painting and throwing.

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Multicultural and Mulitifaith stands at the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Festival

The Interfaith Festival included multicultural performances such as Aboriginal WhaleSinging, Maori Ensemble, Senegal Drumming and Ghanese Dancing.

if6-2015left: Boubacar Gaye and Fredrick Kpakpo Addo (Senegal and Ghanese)
right: Bunna Laurie (Aboriginal WhaleSinger)

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Te Hononga on nga Iwi (Maori) - The coming together of the Tribes

The Interfaith Festival also included the Mornington Peninsula Shire's Cultural Diversity Short Film Festival featuring various shorts on diversity, social cohesion and identity within the Australian way of life.

All in all, a great time was had by all. The Interfaith Festival is now in its seventh year and has become a prominent event on the Mornington Peninsula.