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.’

Personal Stories
Friday, 26 October, 2018

Mick Vertigan toured the region in Moral Re-Armament’s Song of Asia musical in the 1970s. After many years, he reconnected with a Papua New Guinean friend from this time.

Saturday, 28 April, 2018
Francine and Barbara on a trip on the Brisbane River

Barbara Lawler defines what mentoring means to her - "an opportunity to be alongside someone on their journey of discovering themselves." For the past three years she has been on this journey with Francine Berabose.

Thursday, 12 April, 2018
Fiona Goggins

Fiona Goggins from Sydney reflects on her experience on the Caux Scholars Program in India.

Friday, 20 April, 2018

An inclusive place based on the principles of mercy and compassion, providing individuals with space for 'seeking the creator through conscious living.' That, in a nutshell, is ‘Benevolence’ – a social organisation that Saara Sabbagh set up in Melbourne in 2008. Parveen Muhammed meets the Islamic community leader who decided to 'be the change you want to see in the world.’

Thursday, 08 November, 2018
Trish McDonald Harrison

With her wonderful smile and boundless enthusiasm, Trish McDonald-Harrison had the gift of making each person feel extraordinary. The truth, her friends say, is it was Trish who was extraordinary. One year after she passed away in 2016, a group of friends met at the Auburn Centre of Community in Sydney to plant a camellia and install a plaque in memory of her.

Thursday, 08 November, 2018
Margaret hepworth

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.

Thursday, 08 November, 2018

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.

Friday, 09 November, 2018

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.

Friday, 09 November, 2018

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.

Friday, 16 November, 2018
Visier and Pari Sanyü

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.’.

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