The Leadership Victoria team were delighted to partner with the Interfaith Network once again this March, to bring to life an insightful morning of discussion about the theme of Belonging. This half-day activity sat within the flagship Williamson Community Leadership Program (WCLP), and looked at the different facets that play a role in creating an environment of belonging and how that impacts leadership in organisations, communities and beyond.

To contextualise this theme, the Williamson leaders travelled to the Keysborough Turkish Islamic & Cultural Centre and spent some time reflecting on their beliefs and values about belonging. In this time of widespread conflict and polarisation both close to home and overseas – and meeting as we were on International Women’s Day – the leaders considered the significant role that women play in community, despite facing significant risk and harm around the world. We heard some beautiful spiritual and values-based reflections from the leaders, to deepen their connection with the theme of the day.

Moving into the host sessions for the morning, Imam Abdurrahman Sahin, Dr Tonie Pikos-Salie and Muhammed Sezgin spoke to the group on the topic of fostering belonging, particularly in Islamic faith. This was followed by a panel with Presbyter Jean Mawal, Thích Thiện Tâm, Hoa Nghiem and Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong, Councillor Lana Formoso, on how leaders who foster inclusion and belonging can help renew a sense of purpose within community.

The group much appreciated hearing from all of the Interfaith leaders about how we might create a foundation for community members to feel that they belong, not just through aspects of identity, but also through shared values, collaboration and education.

Leadership Victoria would like to express our deep thanks to Anita Davine and the Interfaith Network team, to our hosts at the Keysborough Turkish Islamic & Cultural Centre, and the panelists who joined us in our exploration of this theme. We look forward to keeping up with how the WCLP 2024 cohort continues to delve deeper into the theme of belonging throughout the program, and to future collaborations between LV and Interfaith!

Dr Katy McDevitt

Lead Faculty, Williamson Program 2024