October 27, 2001

This vigil came out of a desire to give our community the space to quietly and peacefully contemplate the positives in our lives, and the possibility of achieving lasting peace on all levels of society. In this UN Year of Dialogue among Civilizations and The International Year of Mobilization against Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, this vigil is our way of contributing to the peace process by celebrating our strengths as a community and a nation through our own cultural diversity.

As it is also the International Year of Volunteers, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge Main Ridge and Mt Martha Country Fire Authority, Westernport First Aid and Rosebud and Dromana Police. As representatives of the Emergency Services, whose job it is to assist and aid in times of crisis all over the world, and many of whom are volunteers, we are very happy to have you with us here tonight and thank you for your support in this activity of peace.  We would also like to acknowledge Bruce Billson and Greg Hunt who are here as members of our community, and thank them for making the time to join us.  This Vigil is not about politics. Nor is it about religion. It is not about protesting, nor is it a platform for any one group or organization. It is simply about community.

At this current time, we recognize that members of the Australian Armed Forces are currently on tours of duty, not only in Afghanistan, but also in other trouble spots around the globe. We want to be very clear that this Vigil in no way dishonours the sacrifices these dedicated men and women make for our country, nor the memory of those who have gone before them. We acknowledge that war is a part of life – what we are advocating is the possibility of a world, hopefully in the not too distant future, where war is no longer necessary. We would like to wish on behalf of all present here tonight, a short and safe tour of duty, and a safe return home for all our service men and women.

We’d also like to acknowledge the various businesses and individuals who have stepped forward to sponsor this event. From providing the location to supplying candles to photocopying flyers to donating materials and equipment, without their involvement, this would not have been possible. Parks Victoria, Bunnings Warehouse Mornington, GW Williams Public Address Systems of Mt Eliza, Stuff n Wax, Stockdale and Leggo, Bennetts Real Estate, Bi-Lo Mornington, Emjay Projects and Saftey Beach Yacht Club all receive our thanks and great appreciation. We would also like to thank the Mornington Mail and Mornington Peninsula Leader, along with 3RPP-FM, FOX FM and 3 Triple M for their support in promoting tonight’s event.

And last, but certainly not least, we’d like to thank Rondon for creating the beautiful artwork that we have used as the emblem of this Vigil. As you can see, it has been recreated by Rondon on a much larger scale for tonight, and this larger version will play a very important role later in the proceedings. We thank Rondon for his time, talent and generosity.

Tonight you will hear from various Australians, with a few international contributors, on the themes of peace and cultural diversity from a personal, rather than professional, perspective. These pieces have all been specially prepared for tonight at our request. You will hear from eminent and ordinary Australians from various fields and backgrounds. We invited a large cross section from the political, religious, arts, sports and education arenas. The messages you will hear tonight come from those who responded to our request.