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Press Release – 28 May 2009

Zionist Council of Victoria awarded government multifaith / interfaith grant for its educational Public Speaker Service

The Zionist Council of Victoria is proud to announce that it has been awarded a grant for its Public Speakers Service (PSS) by Minister James Merlino, Minister of Parliament Assisting the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, on Multicultural Affairs.

The Minister presented a cheque for $5000 to Zionist Council of Victoria President Dr Danny Lamm this morning at a festive morning tea at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, which also serves as the site for thousands of high school students who attend the Speakers Service annually.

The grant is part of the Victorian Government’s Multifaith / Interfaith Grants Program and was awarded for raising awareness in the wider Victorian community about Jewish culture and religion and to help promote Victoria’s faith and cultural diversity.

“Ignorance about various faith practices can sometimes lead to discrimination and vilification and the Victorian Government is committed to supporting initiatives that create an accepting society and bring groups together in cooperation and harmony,” Mr Merlino said.  

Mr Merlino said that providing a variety of avenues for people to engage with other faiths and cultures helped people gain a greater understanding and an appreciation of diversity.

He said the Promoting Harmony initiative is administered by the Victorian Multicultural Commission and operates under two sub categories:
•    Multifaith Initiatives – Grants to bring together at least two different faith based organisations or a faith and a community based organisation to develop activities which promote understanding about the diversity of faiths within Victoria and engage the wider Victorian community; and
•    Interfaith Networks – Grants to assist in the establishment of new interfaith networks or to build the capacity and sustainability of existing interfaith networks promote understanding about the diversity of faiths within Victoria and engage the wider Victorian community.

The Zionist Council of Victoria’s Public Speakers Service (PSS) is a program that reaches out to about 8,000 students and adults annually, whereby volunteer speakers present issues relating to Judaism and Israel either at the school or a community organisation or at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, as well as tours of regional Victoria. The program includes visits to synagogues, displays of Jewish tradition and customs and is often accompanied by an Israeli-style lunch.

ZCV President Dr Danny Lamm noted the value of the PSS program “Often, it is not only the first time the participants have met an Israeli, but the first time they’ve met a Jewish person. The program goes a long way towards dispelling myths and building bridges between the Jewish community and the broader Victorian community.”

Bookings for a Public Speakers Service session can be made by calling Michele Benjamin at the Zionist Council of Victoria on 9272 5544 or emailing speakers@zionismvictoria.org.au. More information on the service can be found on the ZCV website by clicking on Public Speakers Service. 

More information can be also be found on the Premier of Victoria’s website at http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/minister-for-multicultural-affairs/brumby-government-support-victorias-future-leaders-1.html
For more information contact:
Ginette Searle – Executive Director, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5544
Elly Shalev –  Public Affairs Director, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5519
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The Zionist Council of Victoria leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website www.zionismvictoria.org.au