to it

April, 2015
Greetings! Welcome to our April News. There’s lots to read
here and I trust you will enjoy the journey through our stories
and events. I will be glad to hear from you with stories to share.
George Trippe, Perth
Remembering who we are…..
“The people who come together to form the body
known as Pace e Bene Australia are committed to
grounding their life in the equality of all people, to
rejoicing in the differences that define each individual,
and to the interconnectedness of all things. Members
try to centre on expressing that grounding by adopting
the principles of nonviolence in all interactions with
each other, the wider community and the
environment.” (The Pace e Bene Australia Constitution, page 3,
2013, italics added)
Our Mission statement
To further the growth and expansion of a spirituality of active nonviolence in
Australia. (From the Pace e Bene Australia Constitution, page 4, 2013)
New Members!
Since our last newsletter we have accepted the following people into our
PeBA Community: Welcome!
Michael Meegan, Karrinyup, WA
David Pocock, O’Connor, ACT
Emma Pocock, O’Connor, ACT
Bronwyn Elvery, Port Hedland,
Nonviolent Interfaith Leadership Program – 2015
We are “open for business” for the NILP in November! The dates are 14-19
November, at Amberley in Lower Plenty, VIC. The website has all the
information. Expressions of interest
are already being received. Word of mouth and personal encouragement are
very helpful means to spread the word. Do, please, invite friends and
colleagues to consider participating in this event. We are planning for 20
participants, 18 years and older. Questions may be addressed to Simon
Reeves at [email protected]
Pace e Bene Australia to South Africa - 2015
An invitation has been received from Sharon (Layton) Verwoerd in
Stellenbosch, South Africa, to bring the work of Pace e Bene, specifically
working mainly from the NILP material, to Stellenbosch. Sharon is an
original member of Pace e Bene Australia, and now lives with her husband
Wilhelm in a sustainability community in Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape
Province. Sharon has been very enthusiastic about connecting with others in
the region there to explore frameworks and resources around the spirituality
and practice of active nonviolence. As a consequence of a few local network
meetings and conversations, Sharon (Transforming Connections ) has
partnered with the Christian Brothers Eco-Spirituality Centre , the Centre for
Christian Spirituality and the Desmond Tutu Centre for Spirituality and
Society to issue an invitation to Pace e Bene Australia to visit for an
exploratory program.
Our National Committee has agreed to support this visit. Brendan McKeague
and Ann Morgan will make up our team, and will spend a few weeks there in
June on a voluntary, self-funded basis. George Trippe is unable to travel with
the team, and is contributing four videos of his material on nonviolent
spirituality. The final design of the program will take shape in collaboration
with people there as local needs and interests are identified. This is an
exciting adventure, and we will receive reports on the work in subsequent
issues of the News.
New Connections: Baqir heads west!
In March the Community of Practice in
WA organised a trip for me to come to
Western Australia to show my films and
share my story with people. I attended six
events to give my talk and share my
story. In Perth, they were: the Catholic
Religious of WA, MercyCare Staff
Learning Program, the Community of
Practice monthly meeting, a gathering for
staff and media students at the University
of Notre Dame, and a student gathering at
St. George’s College at UWA. In Port Hedland (pictured) I met with a group
sponsored by the Uniting Church. Each venue and event was unique,
however at all the events there was one thing in common. People were keen
to hear the story and understand the human side of the asylum seeker issue
that we are facing in Australia. People were concerned with the current
inhumane Australian policies toward asylum seekers, and asking the question
why we as Australian are trapped in a net of fear. The Community of Practice
WA, along with Pace e Bene, facilitated these events in the hope of giving a
human face and voice to this issue. I have hope that my film will help some
people rethink this issue. As I met many compassionate people in this
journey, I wondered how to connect all this compassion and love together, so
that we could send a wave of change.
Baqir Rezaie, 30 March 2015
A New Model
Baqir's visit to WA happened as a result of conversations within our local
Community of Practice about the work we do with Pace e Bene and the
Nonviolent Interfaith Leadership Program. In previous years Pace e Bene has
organised nationwide Inspiritor tours by overseas visitors, hosted by
members in various locations around the country. We believed it would now
be an appropriate time to host some of our homegrown Australian Inspiritors
and we used the experience with “Baqir in the West” as a prototype for how
this might be organised. As a result, we have an outline of our project process
available for anyone who may be interested in hosting Baqir or other
Inspiritors in their area. If this is of interest to you and others in your area,
please contact me for a conversation about how we organised and funded
Baqir’s visit as our Inspiritor.
Brendan McKeague: [email protected]
Carole Powell in West Papua
West Papua is one of Australia’s closest neighbours,
located on the western rim of the Pacific; it is one half
of the island of New Guinea and is close to the
northern most land mass of Australia, and, when the
tide is right, can be walked to from the outer Islands
of Thursday Island. It has been violently occupied by
Indonesia since the Dutch left in 1962.
Very few Australians have visited West Papua and
most are unaware of the Papuan largely nonviolent struggle for selfdetermination over the last 50 years. In late January 2015, I was blessed to be
accepted as part of an 11 person Quaker-led pilgrimage that over 2 weeks
visited 5 different regions of Papua including the remote Highlands. It was a
tense time because just a month before four unarmed young people, some of
them in primary school were shot dead by the Indonesian police.
We met with Papuan church leaders, congregation members, student
activists, village elders who all told us their stories of intimidation, arrest,
torture, economic and structural violence which includes the destruction of
Papuan culture. We learnt of their resistance and creative nonviolent
responses to the violence that surrounds them. We witnessed for ourselves
state violence at work when our meeting with survivors of the Biak massacre
was interrupted by the Indonesian Immigration Department and intelligence
authorities. We witnessed the strength and creativity of our female Papuan
pilgrimage leader, who along with our local female Papuan host, took control
of the situation and negotiated a very difficult situation. We also witnessed
the following day the ongoing intimidation of our leader by the head of
Immigration. In this case we were able to stop the intimidation and the
detained Papuan from our host group was released. Whilst the presence of
the occupying military is not as obvious to the visitor as it is in Palestine, it is
heavily there and the outcome is the same.
Our Papuan friends felt encouraged by our visit and we will continue to
explore how best we and others can be of support to Papuans in their
justice, and self-determination.
Carole Powell, Morayfield, Qld.
Liam Grant in Palestine
In my last piece I told you I was heading off to the West Bank to be part of the
Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine/Israel, a three month
program run by the World Council of Churches. I lived in a tiny Palestinian
village in the North of the West Bank, I walked children to school, I visited
families suffering under the occupation and heard their stories, I monitored
security checkpoints, reported human rights abuses to the UN and I drank A
LOT of sugary tea.
I observed a level of suffering that I previously couldn’t fathom, coming from
my white, middleclass, male reality. But I also observed a level of resistance
and triumph of human spirit that deeply moved me. Amidst the poverty, tear
gas, night raids and violence a circus school is born, teaching kids dance,
acrobatics and clowning. Elsewhere a theatre group arises, performing
traditional Palestinian fables and contemporary plays. Across the country a
resurgence of Dabka dance takes place. Many are learning so that its tradition
won’t die out. Then there are those simply resisting by existing. They tend to
their land and goats, they pick olives, make cheese and do what their families
have always done, despite the relentless opposition. They are the heroes to
their children and bearers of an ancient flame.
Those abovementioned live in opposition to a clear strategy of the occupation
(and any crusade of colonisation) – to destroy an indigenous people and their
culture. They choose to not succumb to the all-consuming hatred (which I
myself was tempted to do in my short 3 months there). But to do what any
thriving culture does – create beauty. To me this was true resistance, though it
had no political allegiance or flag. It was just simply choosing life.
Liam Grant (NILP-2012), Adelaide
Become an Ecumenical Accompanier:
Spend 3 months in Palestine
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)
works through the World Council of Churches to bring international human
rights monitors to the West Bank for three months.
Accompaniers accompany children to school; support farmers with olive
harvests; monitor checkpoints and many other tasks to reduce the risk of
violence and the effect of the Israeli occupation on Palestinians. EA’s must be
25-70 yrs old, in robust physical and emotional health. Training for
prospective EA’s is 21-24 May, near Melbourne and is free of charge to
participants. For more information contact [email protected] or see
In the Neighbourhood with Stephanie Byrne (NILP, 2014)
I asked Stephanie what she was involved with at present. She writes:
“In terms of a story of involvement, I can share about my involvement in a
network of churches known as the Neighbourhood. It began as a network of
churches based around the Mornington Peninsula, meeting the needs of the
local youth in both and spiritual (provision of community and fellowship
spaces and mentoring) and practical sense (housing, food and protection). At
the same time I was working with Oaktree, a young peoples’ movement to
end poverty, where I received a lot of training around mobilisation and
training around movement building and extreme poverty alleviation.
This led to my recent involvement with Fusion, an international Christian
youth and community organisation that is aimed at bringing young people
and their communities together. It focuses on responding to socially at risk
young people in Australia and involves drop in centres and youth cafes,
accommodation programs, employment training schemes, community events
and festivals and the like. Basically the program sees community being a
crucial aspect of enabling young people to realise their potential. You can
check out more about what they do presently on their website
After a number of interactions with Fusion through the Neighbourhood, I’ve
taken on the fundraising and resourcing manager position for the Mornington
base (or branch), which operates out of the accommodation facility in Mt.
Martha. So far, my main focus in the role has been resourcing Fusion’s
Pilgrimage to Uluru. Over the Easter break, we took 20 young people from
the Mornington Peninsula to join Fusion groups from all around Australia on
a journey to Uluru. We stayed with different Aboriginal groups on the way
up and back, where we learnt about one another and exchanged wisdom
around reconciliation and sustainability. It was amazing to witness young
people hearing of amazing stories of active nonviolence and develop a desire
for reconciliation in their families, communities and country. The trip gave
me a deep sense of appreciation for the wisdom that exists in our country and
amazing stories of resilience and compassion that exist among our Aboriginal
brothers and sisters. I’m still trying to digest everything that was shared with
me, and the impact that will have in moving forward.”
Facilitation Training: Nonviolent Conflict Transformation
On the weekend on 21-22nd of March, a
Nonviolent Conflict Transformation Facilitator
Training was conducted in Melbourne by Efrat
Wolfson, Israeli peace activist and group
facilitator. Together we went through a
process of taking a deep look through the
conflicts in our lives into the deeper dynamics
that are making them happen, and into the
amazing world of Deep Needs, where creative
solutions can include BOTH your needs AND my needs (instead of EITHER
your demands OR my demands)... We also explored various ways of
bypassing our "triggers", to help us respond from the present moment, rather
than from our past pains and automatic reactions.
A beautiful, safe space was created to enable open and honest expression, and
the feedback from the participants was that the training was incredibly useful
and successful and exceeded all expectations!
The St Joseph Flexible Learning Centre who hosted the weekend workshop,
had also decided to run a similar Training for their staff on the Friday and the
Monday, which was also very successful and interesting! I am planning to run
similar trainings across Australia, so do contact me if you're interested to run
one in your location - [email protected]
Many thanks to all the brave people who tread the path of nonviolence and
conflict transformation together!
Efrat Wolfson, Mullumbimby, NSW
Somali Youth Peace Project
On 22 April, Dr. Yusuf Sheikh Omar and his wife, Dr. Khadijo Osman, (both
NILP 2014) traveled to their homeland of Somalia to offer peacebuilding and
nonviolence training to 50 young women and men. Their work is in
partnership with Mogadishu University. Yusuf indicates that the objectives
of this work are:
1) To inspire young participants to restore a sense of hope, of confidence and
trust through positive dialogue, reconciliation, building health relationships
and a nonviolent communication approach; 2) To transform perceptions and
behaviours of young Somalis in constructive ways through meaningful
dialogue and peace training; 3) To develop a culture of harmony, positive
social engagement, negotiation and conflict resolution skills among young
future trainers on peace living in a fragile state of Somalia; 4) To develop
young participants’ capacity to understand the root causes of social ills that
will enable them identify relevant solutions; 5) To develop future strategic
plan on reconciliation and peace capacity building among young Somalis.
The National Committee of PEBA has supported this work with a gift of
$500.00. We look forward to their sharing with us on their return, and to
developing ongoing conversation and cooperation, especially in the
Melbourne area, in our common passion for peace and nonviolence.
What’s in a name?
Recently Yusuf had an article published in the Age on the importance of a
name that concerns the naming of his daughter. It is an interesting reflection
on the importance of naming. In our NILP program we begin with grounding
ourselves in our names and heritage. The article offers us a deeper insight
into the significance of our names. Here is the link.
Melbourne Workshop: Pace e Bene and Sri Lankan Unite
On Easter Saturday, some of the Melbourne Pace e Bene crew (Jasmine, Vila,
Dale and Amy) ran a workshop on nonviolence for representatives from Sri
Lanka Unite. The workshop was mainly taken from the Engage course, with
some elements of the Mainstreaming Nonviolence and Interfaith Leadership
course. There was some rich discussion generated about structural violence,
nonviolent communication and the spectrum of violence and non-violence.
After that, we had lots of food and watched a particularly powerful excerpt
from Soldiers of Peace. Sri Lanka Unite organise skits and drama to highlight
the need for reconciliation and humanizing the other. It was wonderful to
hear some stories about passionate people making a difference in a war torn
The Melbourne crew are keen to run an Engage Workshop if there is enough
interest- please contact Amy at [email protected] if you would
like to know more.
Amy Fitzpatrick, Melbourne
The Men’s Moot in Bunbury, WA
We are a group that meets weekly. Each month the person in whose home we
meet chooses the theme. In March, I chose nonviolence NV (surprised?) For
one session I emailed the February newsletter of PeBA as homework. This
required an introduction by me to PeBA, its history and objectives, which I
did, and ended with the NILP and its achievements.
One asked, ‘So what is nonviolence?’ We touched on physical, mental and
spiritual violence, and the unintended consequences of NV, such as delayed
traffic and missed flight connections. The recent protest of Jasmine drew some
criticism from two of us, as being obstructive to others.
Other questions were: ‘What is the freedom to protest worth?’ (A lot!) ‘What
happens when there are too many street protests?’ (Public apathy.)
There was a messy discussion (frequent among the eight of us!) about
political and parliamentary protest, domestic violence, protest in the street,
and electronic protest groups. We touched on the idea of mental violence to
include Matt. 5 (Jesus’ teaching on murder and adultery) and that thoughts
could be enough to destroy someone, or to destroy the society we all want.
We ended knowing that there was more to explore, such as how do protests
go wrong (police antagonism, subversion groups within the protest),
bombing nations into submission, and how does self-giving love work? There
will be more to share, but that’s enough for now folks! Don Reid, Bunbury, WA
Seeking Refuge: A Reflection
During my life I have sometimes had a personal sense of
being an ‘outsider’ – chiefly because of my ability to
deeply reflect on experience. I have developed a strong
empathy and connection to those on the margins. My
passion and commitment to the cause of refugees is
fuelled by the many experiences I have had in my life journey. A highlight of
this involvement was when I, in partnership with a welfare worker from the
St Vincent DePaul Society, had the opportunity in 1993 to visit the Villawood
Detention Centre and meet the Cambodian refugees held there. This was an
integral part of my preparation for my Masters in Australian Studies thesis
(published in 1996). Via the Thesis, I had the honour and the privilege of
interviewing, and listening to and presenting four individual stories of those
seeking refuge in our country.
“The principle guarantee of a refugee’s safety is asylum – the refugee’s ability
to find a haven. The word comes from the ancient Greek term asylon –
meaning inviolate shelter.” (1) Prolonged, indeterminate detention thwarts and
damages this seeking of sanctuary.
My long-standing passion was re-ignited when I retired in October 2012 and
reconnected with three friends involved in supporting current asylum seekers
and visiting the Brisbane Immigration Transition Accommodation (BITA)
Centre. Flowing from that involvement I now currently support in a variety of
ways five (5) families in community detention.
I end with an idea presented by Elie Wiesel - a Holocaust survivor and noted
Jewish author - in 1985 reflecting on the then lack of welcome afforded
refugees in the international community who called for the world community
to embrace a new concept of sanctuary – not a place but any and every human
being. I live this reality in each encounter and conversation I have.
Michael Campbell, Manly, Qld.
(1) Ignatius Bau. quoted in Smyser, W. R. (1987). Refugees: Extended Exiles, p. 21.
An on the spot decision
As a 14 year old arriving in Australia from Zimbabwe, sport provided me
with a space where I could compete as an equal (no one cared how long I’d
been at the school or that I had a funny accent) and make friends. From these
experiences, and others along the way, I have come to believe that sport is at
its best when its helping society become more inclusive.
As a professional rugby player I was very proud of the Australian Rugby
Union when, last year, in collaboration with the Sydney Convicts (a gay
rugby team in Sydney), they developed an inclusion policy that covered all
levels of rugby in Australia, ensuring that there was a set of guidelines to
eliminate discrimination of any kind from the game and make the game more
inclusive. This was a first in Australian professional sport and has since been
adopted by many of the major sporting codes.
In a game earlier this year a player on the other team directed homophobic
slurs at some of my teammates. In the heat of the moment I brought this to
the referee’s attention with a few of my teammates. I am acutely aware that
this sort of language, while often called ‘casual homophobia’ (and still largely
unchallenged in many parts of society), is an act of violence intended to
deride and denigrate. On reflection, I’m surprised I spoke to the referee about
it. It could easily have passed unchallenged or been dealt with in a number of
different ways, but in the moment that was the course of action I chose.
At the time I had no idea it would become a talking point in the media and
had I known that perhaps I’d have been tempted to act differently. But, with
the benefit of hindsight, I have been reminded how important it is to speak up
in such moments. The support from the LGBTI community, as well as rugby
leadership and the rugby public was, in the end, overwhelming. It provided
an opportunity for our team to continue the conversation about how we make
our workplace and sport more inclusive. In the end, thanks to the ARU’s
inclusion policy, it became a great example of restorative justice, with the
player who used the homophobic slur admitting his wrongdoing, making a
public apology, being fined and then, of his own volition, visiting the Sydney
Convicts rugby team to personally apologise for the incident.
David Pocock, Canberra
Two of our NILP women have received awards recently for their
contributions to their communities. Marziya Mohammadi (NILP, 2012) was
announced the recipient of the Young Achiever of the Year for Channel 9
Community Service and Volunteering Award. Ashleigh Green (NILP, 2014)
was one of four finalists for the National Youth Award in the category of
Culture and Diversity. Our congratulations to these two fine women whose
involvements further the causes of peace and nonviolence in our
Need some encouragement?
Pace e Bene in the USA has produced a 40 page booklet giving an inspiring
record of their first year of the Campaign Nonviolence. It has a brief history,
lots of photos of nationwide events, and intentions outlined for ongoing work
to support peacebuilding and nonviolent living. It is guaranteed to stir us up
in our commitments here in Australia. If you would like a copy of the booklet
send an email to Brendan, [email protected], with your postal
address and he will post one out. Alternatively, you can go to the Pace e Bene
and Campaign Nonviolence websites. There you can check out all their
resources including books and a Pace flag!
<> and
Planning ahead
The UN International Day of Peace and Peace Week are
20 September and 21-27 September. In our last issue
we offered some ideas as to how to mark the day and
week. The call is still out there for ideas to share. Why
not purchase a Pace flag from Pace e Bene to hang up
for the week…or longer?
Announcing… important opportunity!
In one of those pre-dawn morning moments of reflection, I had the inspiration
to propose a National Gathering for us – Pace e Bene Australia. I have
solicited the support of Amy Fitzpatrick and Dale Hess. Dale has secured a
three-day weekend at Amberley in Lower Plenty, Victoria for us, and the
National Committee has given their support. Who has the passion? I am
putting out the call for those who have the passion for a National Gathering
to form a working group to being this to fruition. Amy, Dale and I will be
very pleased to have you join us. The dates are 29 January – 1 February,
2016. Let me know if you will give time to help us organise the event. Email
me at [email protected] and mark your diaries now to share in this
important gathering for our Community. We will circulate the details as soon
as plans are in place. This Gathering coincides with the 10th anniversary of
the formation of Pace e Bene Australia. It is an appropriate time for us to
gather to reflect on our Community life and to plan for the future.
George Trippe, Perth
There is energy afoot in Adelaide to call together interested persons for a
Community of Practice. Ben Lohmeyer is prepared to help coordinate the
process. People in Adelaide may contact Ben, [email protected], and
the rest of us can hold a good thought for their efforts.
The Tattoo
Remember the tattoo? Carole Powell spotted it on the inner wrist of Amy
Fitzpatrick while at dinner. Amy has deposited $100.00 into our Funds in
honor of Carole.
From Dale Hess, our Treasurer…
At the end of March the balance in the General Fund is $9,499.45, and the
balance in the Peace Fund is $12,138.02. Contribution details via internet
banking are:
General Fund:
Peace Fund:
Bendigo Bank
Bendigo Bank
Account: Pace e Bene Australia
Account: Pace e Bene Australia
BSB: 633000
Peace Fund
Account number: 128057940
BSB: 633000
Account number: 138001524
Donations are welcome at any time, and gifts to the Peace Fund are tax
deductible. Cheque or money order contributions may also be posted to Dale
at: Pace e Bene Australia, Inc., c/o 5/63 Roslyn Street, Brighton, VIC 3186.
When making contributions to either fund, please inform Dale so that he can
send you a receipt. Dale’s email address is: [email protected]
and finally…
I continue to hope that all who read our News
are encouraged by the stories and events we
share. Recently I found a useful statement by
Parker Palmer that I share here for our
reflection. Palmer writes, “I have become clear
about at least one thing: self-care is never a
selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the
only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to
offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true
self and give it the care it requires, we do so not
only for ourselves but for the many others
whose lives we touch.”
Palmer, P. (c. 2000). Let your life speak. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp 30-31.
Many blessings, George
Equality Diversity Interconnectedness
Pace e Bene Australia
NILP: 14-19 November, 2015
National Gathering: 29 January-1 February, 2016