WATER – From where, to whom?

Forum Australia presents an online forum

7:30pm Tuesday 7 December 2021

Register Now

Experts in their fields will come together The forum will seek to convey the complexities of water management in Australia and its social, economic and political implications.

Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and also interacted with each other online during the Zoom Event.

MC: Anna Vidot, Presenter, ABC Radio Canberra

Opening Remarks: Mohammed Ali, President, Forum Australia

PANEL

Dr Tariq Rana
Water policy and planning expert, Australia

Dr Shahbaz Khan
Director, UNESCO Beijing

Professor Jeff Camkin
Adjunct Professor, Institute of Agriculture, UWA

Professor Jamie Pittock
Professor, Fenner School of Environment & Society, ANU

Vote of Thanks: Helen Wilson, Treasurer, Forum Australia

Organised by Forum Australia – Have your say

Executive Committee Members: Mohammed Ali, Mansoor Syed, Helen Wilson, Phillip Etches, Manar Ahmad

Supported by The ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs

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COVID-19: Impact on Canberra’s social fabric

Forum Australia held an online Forum

7:30pm 12 Tuesday October 2021

Prominent members of the Canberra community, and experts in their fields, shared their thoughts on how COVID-19, and the response to it, is changing how we live and interact socially and how the community is likely to be affected in the next few years.

Attendees asked questions of the speakers and also interacted with each other online during the Zoom Event.

MC: Adrienne Francis, Presenter, ABC Radio Canberra

Opening Remarks: Mohammed Ali, President, Forum Australia

PANEL

Kathy Ragless
CEO, Companion House

Dr Yonatan Dinku
Research Fellow, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research

Dr Emma Campbell
CEO, ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS)

Darlene Cox
Executive Director, Health Care Consumers’ Association (HCCA)

Vote of Thanks: Phillip Etches, Executive Committee, Forum Australia

Organised by
Forum Australia – Have your say

Executive Committee Members:
Mohammed Ali, Mansoor Syed, Helen Wilson, Phillip Etches, Manar Ahmad

Supported by
The ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs

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Surviving Mental Health in COVID

Forum was held at

6pm Tuesday 1 June 2021
Taj Agra, 35 Woolley St Dickson

The session discussed our mental health and well being with COVID-19 and its implications in our daily lives. An interactive forum with a very distinguished panel was held together with a sumptuous three course dinner for which Forum Australia is famous.

MC: Lish Fejer, Presenter, ABC Radio Canberra

PANEL

Zebunnisa Khan
Principal Psychologist, Lifestyle Psychology

Dr Nadeem Siddiqui
Medical Director, Latrobe Community Health Service

Emma Davidson
ACT Minister for Mental Health

Martin Fisk
CEO, Menslink

Genevieve Jacobs
Group Editor, Regional Media Group

Video of the event can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/forumaustralia/videos/217359786682064

Organised by
Forum Australia – Have your say
Supported by
The ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs

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Living with COVID-19 – Risks & Opportunities

The pandemic which has disrupted our lives and economies
is not going away anytime soon.
An online webinar to discuss how we can adapt
was held on

Tuesday 8 September 2020 7:00 -8:30pm on Zoom Webinar

Master of Ceremonies – Lish Fejer, Presenter ABC Radio

Panel:

Dr Sharon Bessell
Professor of Public Policy
Crawford School of Public Policy
the Australian National University

Barnie Van Wyk
Chief Executive Officer
St Vincent de Paul Society
Canberra/Goulburn

Dr Kate Ahmad
Consultant Neurologist
Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney

Mirko Milic
Dealer Principal
Canberra Toyota

Supported by the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs

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Climate Change: Green New Deal? Online Webinar

Monday 11 May 2020 7:00 -8:30pm on Zoom Webinar

Explored options for Australia to accelerate climate action and address climate emergency.

The session deliberated whether the Green New Deal approach is a useful way for Australia to address climate emergency, create jobs, generate climate resilient growth and advance sustainability. Covering, science, policy, politics, economics, global best practices and the larger concept of well-being in the society, it was a very interactive forum with a very distinguished panel.

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Panel

  • Emeritus Professor Will Steffen, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU
  • John Hewson AM, Former Leader of the Federal Opposition and Professor ANU Crawford School
  • Shane Rattenbury MLA, Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
  • Dr Arnagretta Hunter, Clinical Senior Lecturer, ANU Medical School
  • Dr Imran Ahmad (Chair/Discussant), Honorary Associate Professor ANU and Immediate Past President Forum Australia
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Justice, not Force, can bring Peace to Kashmir

Khizar Niazi

A cross-section of the civil society in Canberra condemned human rights violations in the Indian-Held Kashmir (IHK) and warned India that only justice, not brutal force, could restore peace in the disputed territory. It also conveyed to the government of Australia in no uncertain terms that its political positioning on a humanitarian issue had left much to be desired.

The seminar on “Searching for Peace in Kashmir” held at a local restaurant last Tuesday was organized by Forum Australia with active participation of Kashmiri Australians who continue to mobilize public opinion in favour of besieged Kashmiris and agitate the government to break silence over rampant human rights violations in IHK. However, the Liberal government and the Labour opposition, together with the so-called fiercely independent Australian media, having sealed their lips on this burning humanitarian issue, were conspicuous by their absence at the seminar.

The panel of eminent speakers from the Greens, academia and intelligentsia, including of Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri origin, addressed the issue in a comprehensive manner.

Jack Waterford AM, journalist and political commentator, former Editor-at-Large of The Canberra Times, forcefully condemned human rights violations in IHK. Recalling movements for self-determination in different parts of the world, he made specific reference to Palestine and Kashmir. He supported freedom of communication, human rights for all, and self-determination for the people of Kashmir. He rejected status quo in Kashmir as India, being no more sufficiently secular, was moving towards Hindutva. He demanded immediate restoration of normalcy, full human rights, maximum autonomy, and secularism for IHK, adding that the Kashmiris must be granted the right to self-determination. Wondering at the Australian double standards on Hong Kong and IHK respectively, he concluded that there could be no peace in Kashmir without justice for Kashmiris.

Lee Rhiannon, former Greens Senator for NSW, who visited refugee camps and LoC in IHK a year ago, testified to the plight of the Kashmiri people who “wanted peace desperately”. And, to achieve peace, she added, “we need justice that means fighting for their human rights and the right to self-determination”. India must, therefore, lift curfew, restore communications, stop using pallet guns, allow foreign media in IHK, withdraw troops and restore IHK’s autonomous status, she demanded. Reviewing the sub-continent’s history, she said India was no more secular or democratic. It was, in fact, a threat to the stability of the sub-continent. The ruling BJP was a racist off-shoot of the fascist RSS. It had recently de-franchised 1.9 million Muslims in Assam.

Rhiannon lamented that while Kashmiris were languishing in the world’s largest jail, no Australian government representative had made any on-the-record comments on India’s blatant violation of human rights. “That needs to change”. She expressed the hope that during his visit to India in January, PM Morrison would urge Prime Minster Modi to respect the human rights of Kashmiris; withdraw Indian troops from the occupied territory; and restore Kashmir as an autonomous region. Most importantly, she demanded of PM Morrison to be an advocate for holding a UN administered plebiscite to enable Kashmiris to decide their future.

Sunil Gupta, Vice President, Australia-India Business Council, ACT, chose to view the humanitarian issue through the political lense of Indo-Pakistan relations. Reviewing history of Indo-Pakistan conflicts, he hammered in the point that despite several armed confrontations between the two nations, LoC had remained un-changed; implying that LoC was a permanent international border between the two countries and, therefore, India’s treatment of Kashmiris was an internal affair. He stretched this premise to claim that revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution on the 5th August was in order.

Gupta downplayed the magnitude and severity of the clampdown, spanning over two months and denied wide-spread human rights violations in IHK. And, instead of addressing Indian atrocities in IHK, he alleged that Pakistan was also guilty of similar violations in Gilgit, Baltistan and Baluchistan, adding that Hindus in Sind were also being discriminated against. He claimed that India was fully democratic except in IHK. He didn’t stop here and went on to say that India’s refusal to resolve the Kashmir dispute according to the UNSC resolutions or the Simla Accord stemmed from its international clout, based on economic strength. To be heard by India, he suggested haughtily, Pakistan must first develop its economic muscle, and build strength and influence (This was reminiscent of a similar rebuke by Nehru to Jinnah after the 1937 elections, which led to demand and achievement of Pakistan within seven years.) Rejoicing at the moral bankruptcy of the world, witnessed by India’s recent successes on IHK at the UN and Human Rights Commission, he stated that India was going to take action against Turkey and Malaysia for speaking for the hapless people of IHK. In short, he made it abundantly clear that the ‘world’s largest democracy’ believed in ‘Might is Right’, not international law, morality and principles of inter-state relations, enshrined in the UN Charter.

Professor Tahmina Rashid rejected Gupta’s denial of human rights violations in IHK and the claim that the 5th August action was in order. Quoting extensively from the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir (1947) and the 1964 White Paper, she established conclusively that revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A constituted a flagrant violation of not only the above instrument but also the Indian constitution itself. New Delhi had unilaterally changed the basic constitutional relationship of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to the Republic of India, inviting instant reaction from the Kashmiris. To suppress the reaction, India had imposed total blackout. As a result, citizens had limited to no access to the outside world through phone or internet. Freedom of movement had been restricted; public meetings banned; democratically elected public representatives locked up; and the state handed over to security forces. And, despite court orders, the use of indiscriminate pellet guns “on stone-throwing civilians” had continued.

Addressing human rights violations in IHK, Prof. Rashid, a diehard human rights activist, built her arguments on original sources like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, international media, proceedings of Kashmir Assembly and even of the Indian parliament. She said India had not ratified the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Indian troops and paramilitary personnel were enjoying impunity under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and, without prior sanction from New Delhi, the administration could not take any punitive action against the erring soldiers.

As for sexual violence and rape, Prof. Rashid, a vocal feminist, shared extracts from reports of Support Group for Justice for Mass Rape Survivors; Asia Watch; Physicians for Human Rights; and International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir, which confirmed that there was solid evidence of rape by the Indian security forces which were not prosecuted. As if that wasn’t enough, health professionals conducting the medical examinations and assisting rape victims had been tortured by the “decomposed human beings.”

Prof. Rashid wondered at the double standards of the so called civilized international community which is ever-ready, and rightly so, to condemn human rights violations by non-state actors. But “when the largest secular democracy commits the same crimes against Kashmiris – women and men alike, our politics silence our conscience,” she concluded in thundering applause.

Dr. Ejaz Qureshi, Honorary Professor at ANU, an Australian of Kashmiri origin, succinctly encapsulated the history of their struggle for self-determination and the atrocities they had been subjected to since 1948. He reiterated their resolve to remain steadfast and expressed the hope the world would stand by their principled position and force India to fulfil its promises given to them.

Rt. Rev’d Prof. Stephen Pickard, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture summed up the discussion with the remarks that peace in IHK could be achieved only through negotiations, compromise, humility and teachings of holy prophets; for which political aspirations must be given up. It was a loud and clear message for India, Australia and, in fact, the world at large.


The author, Khizar Niazi, is a Canberra-based former Ambassador. He can be reached at khizar_niazi@hotmail.com.

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Searching for Peace in Kashmir

Forum Australia (Aussie Forum Inc)

Hosted a discussion and three course dinner on

Searching for Peace in Kashmir

6pm Tuesday 15 October 2019

Taj Agra Restaurant
35 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT 2602

Photos from the Forum
Videos from the Forum


Speakers:

Jack Waterford
Former Editor-at-Large, Canberra Times
Dr Tahmina Rashid
Associate Professor of International Studies, UC

Sunil Raj Gupta
Executive, Australia India Business Council

Lee Rhiannon
Former Senator for NSW
Dr Ejaz Qureshi
Honorary Associate Professor, ANU & Development Economist
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Rise of the Far Right in Australia

Forum Australia (Aussie Forum Inc)

Hosts a discussion and three course dinner on

Rise of the Far Right
in Australia

6pm Tuesday 30 April 2019

Taj Agra Restaurant
35 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT 2602

There is a growing rise of far right or right-wing extremism gaining momentum around the world. At home in Australia, we are seeing the spread across the society and its effect on multiculturalism, social, economic and environmental issues. The recent tragic terrorist activity in Christchurch is a stark reminder on how such issues are gaining momentum. The forum will help understand the key issues and how it is affecting a multicultural Australia. 

Payment of $20 (cash only) per person at the door, inclusive of a 3 course dinner and the forum.

Dinner will be halal with vegetarian options. For vegetarian options, please tick the appropriate box during registration.

Click here to Register


MASTER OF CEREMONIES

Mohammed Ali, 
Founder and Vice-President, Forum Australia

SPEAKERS

John Hewson
Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU
Former Liberal opposition leader

Jack Waterford AM
Journalist and Political Commentator
Former Editor at Large, Canberra Times

Robert (Bob) McMullan
Former Labor MP and Minister

Alex Sloan AM
Journalist and Radio Broadcaster

Minister Chris Steel MLA
Member for Murrumbidgee


Spaces are limited. To book your spot in this Forum please register by clicking on the link below.
Payment of $20 per person at the door, inclusive of a sumptuous three course dinner and forum.
Note – you can register more than one person.
Any queries, please contact
Mohammed Ali on 0404 947 260  or
Helen Wilson on 0409 621 949 or
Email:  info@aussieforum.org

Please be seated by 6:30pm when the first course of dinner will be served.
Speeches will also begin at 6:30pm, followed by a Q&A session.

Forum Australia thanks the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs for its funding allocation to assist us build stronger inter-cultural ties within the ACT.

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Intergenerational Care

Forum Australia (Aussie Forum Inc)

Invites you for a discussion and three course dinner on

Intergenerational Care

6pm Tuesday 26 February 2019

Taj Agra Restaurant 35 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT 2602Payment of $20 per person at the door, inclusive of a 3 course dinner and the forum.

Dinner will be halal with vegetarian options. For vegetarian options, please tick the appropriate box during registration.


Master of Ceremonies

Lish Fejer

Lish Fejer Presenter, ABC Radio, Canberra

SPEAKERS

Barnie

Barnie van Wyk CEO, St Vincent DePaul Society ACT/ Goulburn

David Smith

Senator David Smith Federal Senator for the Australian Capital Territory (Labor)

Adj Prof Kylie Ward CEO, Australian College of Nursing (ACN)

Nic Manikis

Nick Manikis
Former Senior Executive ACT Government
President, Fair Canberra


Spaces are limited.

To book your spot in this Forum please register by clicking here.

Payment of $20 per person at the door, inclusive of a sumptuous three course dinner and forum.

Note – you can register more than one person.

Any queries, please contact

Mohammed Ali on 0404 947 260  or Helen Wilson on 0409 621 949

or Email:  info@aussieforum.org

Please be seated by 6:30pm when the first course of dinner will be served.

Speeches will also begin at 6:30pm, followed by a Q&A session.

Forum Australia thanks the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs for its funding allocation to assist us build stronger inter-cultural ties within the ACT.

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New Forum Australia Executive Committee

Following the Forum Australia Annual General Meeting held on Monday 29 October at 6pm, the following members were elected to the Executive Committee:

  1. President – Imran Ahmad
  2. Vice President – Mohammed Ali
  3. Treasurer – Helen Wilson
  4. Secretary – Manar Ahmad
  5. Executive Committee Member –  Mansoor Syed
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