WA's gifted and talented encouraged to promote understanding of different faiths

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Summer 21-1-2013

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



Some of WA's most gifted and talented new Year 12 students gathered at The University of Notre Dame Australia's Fremantle Campus in January for the University's annual Cultural DeCoding program.

Over four days the students explored the disciplines of archaeology, iconography, philosophy, theology, theatre, forensic law, Middle East politics and Australian cinema. A highlight for many of the participants was a panel discussion offered on the final day which focussed on issues arising from the differences and similarities between faiths.

Dr Angela McCarthy, program coordinator, said the panel session was an important addition to the Cultural DeCodingprogram.

"Contentious religious issues are often discussed through a veil of ignorance. Having representatives comment from their religion's perspective provided a valuable insight for the students," explains Dr McCarthy.

"Our panellists included Rabbi Dovid Freilich (Judaism), Ajhan Bramali (Buddhism), Sheik Muhammad Agherdein (Islam) and Dr Michelle Jones (Christianity).

"A central theme that emerged from discussion was that education and communication about different faiths should be encouraged at a high school level which the panellists believed would help promote a better understanding of different religions."

Sheik Muhammad Agherdein said the program provided an ideal opportunity to address youth - the leaders of tomorrow.

"It is important that they have an understanding of cultural diversities, particularly as they go from high school into university. I believe that this will help them to deal with challenges through their life," he said.

Scotch College student, Jonty Bean, said he was looking forward to the panel discussion.

"As an agnostic, I was looking forward to deepening my understanding of religions," said Mr Bean.

"The session was fantastic. It was heartening to see the underlying appreciation and importance of love and human rights promoted by all of the religions represented."

Rachel Mastaglia from Iona Presentation College agreed: "As a Catholic I have always been surrounded by Catholic teachings. Being a part of the panel discussion was a very insightful experience. I learnt many valuable things from the religious representatives and I found them very inspiring.

"The questions asked were answered very thoroughly and I admired the passion they showed when talking about their faith. I feel very privileged to have had this unique and memorable experience."

For more information about Notre Dame's Cultural DeCoding program please contact Dr Angela McCarthy -angela.mccarthy@nd.edu.au

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138 Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093