VIC 2017 Report



  1. HCA continues to actively participate in the Multifaith Advisory Group to the Premier of Victoria which meets on a quarterly basis. The visibility of HCA in this group is important and is now well recognised. The lamb meat ad was debated in this meeting, the video was played during the meeting and Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Chair Helen Kapalos has promised to take up the matter personally with Advertising Bureau Director. The outcome of this meeting is awaited.

with Premier Daniel Andrews

  1. HCA continues to consolidate its position with Spiritual Health Victoria and attended a recent AGM where HCA has voting rights. SHV continues to fund HCA for about $18000 per annum towards providing chaplaincy in the health care system since 2015. This is a prestigious role for HCA as a Hindu organisation which we are proud of. There is an ongoing challenge in this area for getting the voluntary chaplains accredited as per the new guidelines issued by SHV in 2016. At this stage all the working chaplains from ISKCON are now accredited. Due to the sad demise of previous Director of HCA Mr AbhayAwasthi, the Hindu Foundation which he was running for last several years is now folded and dissolved as there was no one to look after the activities after his death. All the assets of Hindu Foundation are now acquired by SankatMochanSamiti, an upcoming temple in Melbourne. Consequently all the voluntary Hindu Chaplains who were working under Hindu Foundation but supported by HCA for funding are now under SankatMochan. There has been a resistance from this batch of volunteers to get the accredition work completed. This issue is now expected to be resolved by end of the year.
  2. HCA has also made inroads into Chaplaincy with Corrections Victoria. HCA was informed that there are about 39 Hindu prisoners in the system out of which 5-6 were actively looking for chaplaincy support. This area also faces challenges due to linguistic issues and a request was made for a Tamil chaplain. With the help of VHP Victoria, HCA has managed to get to Hindu Tamil speaking chaplains to commence this voluntary work. This is a potential area where in future HCA can approach the government for funding agreement but at the moment the numbers are low.

4.HCA actively participated in a series of meetings and discussions with several multifaith representatives to defend the integrity of the Racial Discrimination Act to ensure that the vulnerable are protected from hate speech and vilification based on race and religion. As a result of this submission the Federal Government’s proposal to dilute the RDA was shot down in the parliament.

5.HCA has established an ongoing relationship now with the Federal Greens leader Sen Richard De Natale and his office. Senator’s office is increasingly getting engaged in the multicultural community and HCA is a part of this engagement as a Hindu organisation in Victoria.

Greens Senator Richard De Natale

6.HCA successfully hosted its first interfaith event on the occasion of “VarshPratipada” inviting all faith representatives to speak about the concept and philosophy of New Year in their religion. Keynote speech for Hindu religion was by Dr Jayant Bapat and other representatives were Dr Helen Light from Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Susanne Haake from Bahaai community, Jasbir Singh Suropada from Sikh Interfaith Council, Rev Sharon Hollis from Uniting Church, Bishop Paul Barker from Anglican Diocese, Rev. Ian Smith from Victorian Council of Churches. Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Commissioner Mr Chidambaram Srinivasan summarised the event.

  1. HCA also actively participated in the debate over the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the Victorian Parliament and was a signatory to a joint statement issued by the multifaith group to the Dy. Premier of Victoria Mr James Malino requesting him to withdraw the legislation. Currently this legislation is in the upper house and HCA was a part of a discussion group with Senator Simon Ramsay, who along with 4 other senators are potentially vote against this legislation in the upper house.

HCA along with other faith members on Victorian Parliament steps with Dy Premier James Merlino handing over the multi-faith statement on Voluntary Assisted Dying

  1. Diwali was celebrated at the Victorian Parliament for the 4th year in a row and HCA was actively involved in this celebration together with BAPS and 16 other participating organisations.
  2. Earlier in June this year, HCA raised the issue of conflict of interest within the parivar organisation. A meeting to discuss and sort out this matter was organised during Swami Vigyanandji’s visit to Melbourne. After a lot of persuation, a working document was prepared and agreed upon on how to address various activities within HCA , VHP , and HOTA. HCA looks forward to a meaningful outcome in implementing this framework within the coming months. (See separate document)
  3. HCA participated with other organisations in celebrating International Yog Day where about 150 persons participated.
  4. During the recent visit of Man Manmohanji and Man Soumitraji , HCA together with HSS organised a program “Bharatnama- The idea of India” which was well attended and well received by the community.
  5. HCA enjoys ongoing representation on Faith Community Council of Victoria, which is an apex inter-faith organisation in Melbourne. Due to this ongoing presence HCA has developed close relationship with Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Victorian Council of Churches, Sikh Interfaith Council, Islamic Council of Victoria to name a few.
  6. The biggest challenge in Melbourne is to network HCA with the HOTA members and the working document prepared in October is expected to be a basis for working towards this goal.
  7. HCA is now at a stage in terms of its visibility to other community organisation, where a small team must be put in place and steps are being taken to identify persons to form a small team and is expected to be known by December 2017 or early 2018.


Makarand Bhagwat

Director, Victoria Chapter

20 November 2017

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