The U.S. Embassy in Canberra and the U.S. Consulates General in Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney regularly engaged a wide range of religious leaders, faith communities and groups, and government officials on topics including the promotion of religious freedom and tolerance.
Officers from the embassy participated in Canberra’s largest and highest-profile iftar, hosted by the Bluestar Intercultural Center and attended by the minister for multicultural affairs. The officers spoke with government officials and community leaders at the event regarding U.S. efforts to promote religious tolerance
The Consulate General in Sydney maintained close relations with the city’s large Jewish community and deepened its relationship with other religious communities, including Muslim and Catholic groups. Consulate general representatives participated in events that provided an opportunity to underscore the importance of religious freedom and build relationships to promote diversity and tolerance. Consulate general officials addressed diversity and tolerance in the United States with a class of approximately 140 11th grade students at Birrong Girls High School, a culturally diverse school in Western Sydney. The Consul General met with committee members of the Islamic Society of Gold Coast, Inc., and emphasized the importance of Islamic communities in the United States and the need for open dialogue to build and maintain trust among diverse communities and countries. The Consul General also attended a friendship dialogue iftar, and another officer represented the consulate general at an interfaith dialogue conference attended by New South Wales cultural and political leaders. The consulate general’s public affairs representatives established a relationship with The Point Magazine, a community-based, youth-focused, digital publication that promotes tolerance among religious communities and embracing one’s own faith while allowing others to do the same without obstruction.
The Consulate General in Perth hosted a roundtable discussion including the Ambassador and Muslim community leaders from Western Australia, covering subjects such as measures to improve community awareness of Islam and religious tolerance overall. In order to promote interfaith understanding, the consulate general hosted quarterly events that brought together Western Australia’s youth from a variety of cultural backgrounds and religious affiliations for informal discussions of contemporary problems.
The Consulate General in Melbourne increased programs to disadvantaged audiences by providing grants to interethnic and interfaith organizations in the areas of youth leadership, with a special focus on the Northern Territory. The consulate general included influential individuals and NGOs within the Muslim community in a variety of programs, including an ongoing series of events focused on women’s leadership. The consulate general actively engaged Muslim communities, especially during Ramadan, to share in their cultural traditions and discuss the U.S. commitment to supporting religious tolerance. The consulate general hosted an iftar dinner, which brought together youth leaders from media, sports, business, NGOs, and faith communities in an interfaith setting. In addition, the Consul General and other officers attended several iftar events hosted by the Parliament of Victoria, universities, and civic organizations, and a Passover seder hosted by the Capitol Jewish Forum. Consulate general staff also attended iftar events hosted at private family homes through an initiative organized by the Australian Intercultural Society, a largely Turkish-Muslim organization that promotes interfaith dialogue.
Through exchange programs, the embassy and consulates general sent several influential Muslim leaders to the United States and continued to connect with them as they built profiles upon their return, including in national media, politics, and NGOs.