Many individuals touched by the ideals and philosophy of IofC have gone on to influence change in their communities, countries and beyond. In Australia, leaders have emerged from Indigenous, migrant and diaspora communities, who found that forgiveness and personal release from bitterness has promoted a cycle of positive action rippling out to touch many others. These are a sample of stories of change from individuals associated with IofC Australia, who took on board the message that, ‘Change begins with me.’
'World Peace Through Education: The Face Behind The Gandhi Experiment'
After 25 years of teaching at a number of schools in Melbourne, Margaret Hepworth began to question her contributions to society. While the school system was teaching sharing and kindness, across the world: war, violence and greed were still thriving. Three days after attending an indigenous studies conference, she quit her teaching job of 25 years to embark on a spiritual and educational journey. Read More.
'The truth shall set you free'
After 100 years of separation, the Initiatives of Change network helped Brisbane-based Lesley Bryant and her mother to locate their lost family in Samoa and Fiji. She began wondering about the Australian descendants of the ‘Kanakas’ —now known as Australian South Sea Islanders (ASSI)—and why their story had virtually disappeared from mainstream society. Putting into practice the IofC concept of first looking at yourself, then engaging others, she decided, ‘I should look at the people who really are Kanaka.’ Under her leadership, the ASSI 150 project was born – an occasion for healing some old divisions on the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first South Sea Islanders in 1863. Read More.
David Nyuol Vincent
‘The boy who would not die’
As a child in Sudan’s south, David Nyuol Vincent saw homes burned to the ground, leaving behind the charred bodies of infants. Recruited into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and trained as a child soldier, he learned to hate the Arab northerners with a fierce passion. After 17 years in refugee camps, he came to Australia, but the heavy burden of hate remained. At an IofC ‘Life Matters’ course in Melbourne, David told his story. Others cried, but David felt lighter. ‘I had found my turning point,’ he says. He began organizing conferences to bring Sudanese youth of the north and south together. In 2012, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard appointed him as one of 40 ‘People of Australia’ Ambassadors. Read More
‘A force for good in a troubled world’
Sydney songwriter David Mills passed away in 2012. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, hearing of his death, said he was ‘one of those fragrant individuals who tried as hard as he humanly could to understand others and to be a force for good in a troubled world.’ His music lives on, in the many songs he composed and recorded. The two reconciliation conferences he organized in Honiara after the outbreak of ethnic violence in the Solomon Islands, helped establish a Truth and Reconciliation process, launched by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Read More
Visier & Pari Sanyu
Building bridges between Australia's diverse groups
The Sanyu family came to Australia as violence worsened in their home of Nagaland in northeastern India. Moving into their new home in a quiet Melbourne suburb, they were greeted first by a friendly neighbor, second by a brick thrown through their front window. Visiting academic Visier eventually pioneered a ‘Refugee Healing Trail,’ taking recent arrivals to visit host communities in rural Victoria; community worker Pari ran women’s ‘Peace Circles’ around Melbourne, building bridges of friendship and trust. Of the two Australias that they encounter - one friendly, one hostile - Pari says, ‘We choose both, because both are realities.’. Read More
Coming home after 26 years
It was Spring 1986 – just three years after my father Nyok Gor was just eight when his father was killed by the Khartoum regime in Sudan. Over a four-year period, he walked hundreds of kilometers before reaching Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya. After settling in Australia, he began campaigning for South Sudan’s peace and independence, during a time of violence that also affected its overseas diaspora. When his own cousin was killed in tribal clashes, he reached out to the opposing group in Melbourne’s South Sudan community, offering friendship. Braving many hardships, he continues to visit the fledgling nation, taking part in reconciliation efforts that continue today. Read More
‘We may not forget, but we can forgive’
Removed from her family as a child and sent out to work as a domestic servant at 16, Lilardia (her tribal name) found inspiration to change when she went to the US with Moral Rearmament (MRA). Margaret Tucker – Aunty Marge to those who knew her – became one of the early women leaders in the Aboriginal Advancement League in Victoria. In her autobiography If everyone cared, the first published story by one of the ‘Stolen Generations’, she wrote, ‘I’d like to do the wild corroboree when I feel angry…but what is the use of remembering with bitterness? We need to think positively how to put right what is wrong in Australia today. Read More
Seeking inner motives of truth in leadership
The Member for Fremantle was the youngest ever. Kim Beazley Sr took the seat of wartime Prime Minister John Curtin at the age of 28. On a trip to the MRA world conference centre in Caux, Switzerland, a British Labour Party friend suggested he seek God’s guidance, having ‘nothing to prove, nothing to justify and nothing to gain for yourself.’ Beazley devoted himself to honesty in politics, retiring after a 32-year career in parliament. Among many achievements, he is credited with ‘the honeymoon period’ for education financing and reforms that allowed for Indigenous children in schools to learn in their mother tongues as well as in English.The Member for Fremantle was the youngest ever. Kim Beazley Sr took the seat of wartime Prime Minister John Curtin at the age of 28. On a trip to the MRA world conference centre in Caux, Switzerland, a British Labour Party friend suggested he seek God’s guidance, having ‘nothing to prove, nothing to justify and nothing to gain for yourself.’ Beazley devoted himself to honesty in politics, retiring after a 32-year career in parliament. Among many achievements, he is credited with ‘the honeymoon period’ for education financing and reforms that allowed for Indigenous children in schools to learn in their mother tongues as well as in English. Read More
Proud to be a wharfie
Jim Beggs first went to work on the Melbourne waterfront for the money. Wharfies, he heard, received, ‘the wages of the Prime Minister and half the cargo.’ In the early 1950s, the waterfront ran on a system of casual labor and, he recalls, ‘The only time you read about the wharfies was when they were on strike, or pilfering something.’ After beginning to apply the personal standards of IofC in his own life, he went on to national leadership of the waterside workers in industrial negotiations that transformed working conditions and created new productivity agreements. Read More
A war veteran's life work for peace
From a firmly atheist background, Jim Coulter's early encounters with IofC (then Moral Re-armament) while at school in Perth, WA, encouraged him to begin seeking divine guidance in daily matters: early changes in his life included lightening his stepmother’s household duties, to treating his then-girlfriend (now wife of 60-plus years) with greater respect. After serving as a pilot in World War II, he concluded that, ‘Once you get into a war, there are no right or wrong decisions, only ones that may be less wrong than others.’ He gave his life to work for peace, based on the changes he had experienced and witnessed in those around him. Read More