Caring For Life in common forum

Meeting #2
Friday, 1st March, 2019

Govinda Valley Retreat
51 Lady Carrington Road, Otford NSW 2508

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The day kicked off with Andre Melis, Govinda Valley Director, highlighting the fact that the forums are to bring people/groups together to broaden our vision of the encouraging and inspiring work being done in the community and to support each other in events.


Rev Graham Long from Wayside Chapel Mission in Kings Cross states that 300 visitors come to the door for help each day - mainly street dwellers, drug addicts and prostitutes - who deep down feel very alone. With 800 active volunteers and 140 staff members treating each visitor equally with respect and humility, there are many stories of transformation. Wayside Chapel Mission’s motto of “We win together or we lose together” is a judgement free zone that transforms these people’s lives.

Jessica Hobson, is General Manager of The Yoga Foundation Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that provides yoga-based programs for people who experience disadvantage or hardship. They have partnered with Mission Australia and the St Vincent de Paul Society in Sydney to provide a safe nurturing space to surrender and relax for people experiencing hardship, alienation or at risk of homelessness. 

Jessica works with Founder and Director of The Yoga Foundation Dr Michael de Manincor,  who specialises in integrated and complementary medicine utilising yoga-based interventions for depression, anxiety and wellbeing.

Dr Karen Firestone’s passion is Community Gardens where a diverse range of healthy and colourful organic fruit and vegetables are grown and brought to the plate. She presented an 8 point plan outlining the methods by which a community garden is started and discussed the inclusion of other elements such as bees, worms and chickens. 

The local council supplies the land and basic utilities, whereas fundraising supplies the purchase of tools, materials and vegetation. Creativity is encouraged, supporting a variety of workshops that bring people together within the local community.

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Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng  from the Australian National University gave us a fascinating insight on Aboriginal law and culture. She provides provide workshops for both the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Australia.

Dr Tjanara described the Tjukurrpa Law, that our Purpose is to Respect and Honour our relationship with Self, All others and the Earth. She also discussed the Kanyini principle or law of Harmony and Unconditional Love by caring for all living things in Thought, Word and Action – in service to all. The Nparji Nparji  law of sharing has principles similar to those Karma. It acknowledges the energy of reciprocity.

Maria Popova from Sutherland Community Corrections described the placement of offenders undertaking community service work based on skill base and requisite hours. Sutherland Community Corrections are always looking for community work partnerships for placements, particularly in unskilled labour sectors. Providers must supervise participants within the program as offenders cannot work independently.  Sutherland Community Corrections supervises on average 80 clients at any given time.


Greg McFarlane of  Vegan Australia states, “Veganism is all about animals” explaining that just like cats and dogs, all animals are sentient beings with emotions and have the right to live full lives. The Mission Statement of Vegan Australia is, “Live healthy, happy lives without harming others”.  The educational purpose of Vegan Australia is to educate in terms of the impact of farming and eating animals upon the animal as well as the greater environment in which we all live, the extent of animal exploitation and the ignorance of these facts by the majority of people on Earth. Greg recommends reading “The World Peace Diet” by Dr Will Tuttle which elaborates upon the nature of eating inclusive of spiritual health and harmonious action.

Helen Dwyer and Lisa Brooke founded The EVE Project (Equality Value Empowerment) when it became clear to them that the gap between services rendered to assist women suffering from the effects of mental and physical violence and a healthy functioning life is not being addressed.

To assist with transitioning into a healthy lifestyle, the EVE Project helps affected women to gain life skills within a three stage project. The first stage of a pop-up van is currently underway, the next stage is a café produce garden and lastly a healing centre focussing on alternative therapies and holistic healing. Helen and Lisa are currently writing training modules for training purposes with TAFE.

Gabi Openshaw , Education Officer with Animal Liberation NSW, explained that their work is based on sentience, or the ability to perceive and see things, as animals are cognisant beings deserving recognition and respect. Animal Liberation proudly fights for the rights of all species.

Their three current campaigns include firstly Duck Farming as 8 million ducks slaughtered for human consumption each year; and Horse Racing as horses are placed under dire risk every time they compete; and finally Rodeos as despite showing signs of extreme distress bulls, bulls are forced to into suffering leading to fatal injury for human entertainment.

Currently there is a Facebook petition on to cancel the June rodeo event at the ICC Theatre in Darling Harbour.

Working with Alcoholics Anonymous and Kids Hope, Pastor Lionel Rattenbury with volunteers from Hope Church in Helensburgh feed the homeless on Friday nights from a food pantry. The previous weekend they held an event, “Sleep out for the Homeless” in the local park, raising $3000 to help with food costs.

Hope Church follows Jesus’ example to “Feed the Poor and Heal the Sick”, saying that Love is the way to reconcile the Spiritual Realm with the Humanitarian Realm. Patrick, a former ice addict with failing lungs who was transformed when he invited Jesus into his life, shared his experience which he calls a miracle.

CLOSE: The forum closed with round table reflections by all present on the day. The consensus was that all groups recognise the suffering existing on our planet, the desire to better expand our compassion work to all, recognising the common thread of unity that connects us.

Andre Melis mentioned there will be 4 forums each year with the next one on 31st of May and encouraged everyone to invite speakers and participants. Future forums will be a charity luncheon with the proceeds of $25 per head going to a different charity each time. The committee would nominate a charity in advance. Also present:  Julia, Madreya and the CFLIC committee – Wendy, Pam, Mark, Sue, Reetu