Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh

Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh is Deputy Director of the National Centre for Contemporary Islamic Studies (NCCIS), at The University of Melbourne. He has a successful track record in research and community engagement, and has completed two major projects on the Challenges of Muslim Integration in Melbourne and Sydney, commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Professor Akbarzadeh has an active interest in the social and political aspects of Muslim integration in Australia. He has published ten books (including a joint book with Abdullah Saeed on Muslim Communities in Australia), and 40 refereed papers and book chapters. In 2003, Professor Akbarzadeh produced a report for the Australian Research Council, (ARC) Researching Islam in Australia. He is also a regular media commentator on issues relating to Islam and the Middle East with opinion pieces in The Age, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and Eureka Street.

Associate Professor Mark Baker

Mark Baker is Director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He completed his D.Phil at Oxford University and was twice a Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before moving to Monash, he was a lecturer in Jewish history at The University of Melbourne and has taught widely in the field of Modern Jewish History, the Holocaust and Genocide, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Terrorism in Modern Conflict.

He is the author of The Fiftieth Gate (HarperCollins, 1997), a personal book about memory of the Holocaust, which was the recipient of numerous prizes and is taught on the NSW curriculum for HSC English studies. For more than a decade he edited Generation, a quarterly journal of Australian Jewish thought, and is a regular columnist for the Jewish and wider media. He is currently writing an historical novel and researching in the area of sexuality during the Holocaust.

Ms Anisa Buckley

Anisa Buckley is a final year PhD Candidate in Islamic Studies at the Asia Institute at The University of Melbourne, and is a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship. Previous qualifications include an MA (Islamic Studies) from the University of New England, Armidale, a Graduate Certificate in International Development from RMIT, and a B.Ed from The University of Sydney. The title of her MA thesis submitted in 2004 was ‘Muslim Integration in the West: A Case Study on Australia’.

Anisa’s PhD topic is on ‘Muslim women and Islamic family law: the challenges of securing a ‘complete’ divorce in Australia and Britain’. Her research seeks to identify the extent to which Islamic religious authorities in Australia and Britain are effective in assisting Muslim women gain an Islamic divorce. Given that such Islamic procedures are not recognised by the civil legal system, Muslim women must often pursue divorce through two separate systems, the civil and the Islamic. The aim of her research is to identify how

Muslim women make use of various avenues and methods to secure what she terms a ‘complete’ divorce, or in other words, reach a point at which they feel no barriers exist that prevent them from remarrying freely.

Professor Desmond Cahill

In 1993, Desmond Cahill became the first-ever Professor of Intercultural Studies in an Australian university in recognition of his expertise in cross-cultural communication, multicultural and international education, and anti-racist education, world population movements, the history and pattern of immigrant settlement, ethnic community development, bilingualism and biculturalism, ethnic minority youth, cultural diversity policy development and evaluation, globalization, and the interrelationship between religion and culture.

Professor Cahill is widely published with over 60 publications to date. Professor Cahill’s publications and research projects have focused on the following cultural groups in Australia, namely, Argentina, British, Cambodian, Chilean, Dutch, Filipino, Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Maltese, Polish, Turkish, Uruguayan, and Vietnamese and in the countries of Japan, Switzerland and Vietnam, and on the following religious groups: Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Taoist. He was for a time editor of Migration Monitor, Australian correspondent for Asian Migrant, editor of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies and is presently on the editorial board of the Asian and Pacific Migration Journal.

Professor Cahill has led major projects at the highest level of government, especially in the areas of immigrant and multicultural education, ethnic minority youth and religion and cultural diversity. For many years, he was the cross-cultural trainer for the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs; for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he has been a lecturer in the Public Diplomacy series for locally employed staff in Australian embassies across the world. He has been elected the President since 2000 of the Australian chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

He is heavily involved in cross-cultural research and the supervision of research students as well as making frequent appearances in the radio and media, especially on SBS Multicultural TV and radio

Rev Rachel Kronberger

Rachel has a background in Social Work, Australian History and Political Science, and was ordained as a Minister in the Uniting Church in Australia in 2002. Rachel is committed to dialogue, both in an interfaith context and between Christian churches. After five years as the Uniting Church minister in Coburg, Rachel is currently parenting full-time.

Melanie Landau

Melanie Landau has studied and taught Jewish texts in Australia, Israel and the US. She completed a Masters in Psychoanalytic Studies as well as a combined law degree, and is currently a Lecturer in Jewish Studies at Monash University. Her research interests are in gender and the development of Jewish Law. She teaches Jewish Law and Reading Gender in Judaism at the Australian Centre for the Study of Jewish Civilisation. From 2000-2002 she was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel School for Educational and Social Leadership in Jerusalem.

Melanie is the co-founder and facilitator of Darsheini, the community-learning programme of the Centre. She is also a mother of two children who is interested in the transformational capacity of individuals and groups as well as creating community across differences.

Philippa Lovell

Philippa has taught in Catholic schools both in Victoria and South Australia, mainly in the areas of senior English and Religious Education. She has held positions of responsibility as Year Level Coordinator at Aquinas College in Ringwood and Director of Students at Our Lady of Sion College in Box Hill. Her work at the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne is in the area of Student Wellbeing, supporting primary and secondary schools to develop evidence- based frameworks around practices to promote quality relationships.

Some of the projects include MindMatters: a mental health resource, Values Education, Restorative Practices in Catholic school communities, Social - emotional learning, Schools as Core Social Centres and School Refusal and Absenteeism. She represented Catholic Education on the National Values Education committee which provided consultation for the Good Practice Schools Project, Stages 1 and 2.

Professor Abdullah Saeed

Professor Saeed is the Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at The University of Melbourne. He is also the Director of the National Centre for Contemporary Islamic Studies and the Director of the Asia Institute at The University of Melbourne.

Professor Saeed is an active researcher, focusing on one of the most important issues in Islamic thought: the negotiation of text and context, ijtihad and interpretation. He is a strong advocate of reform of Islamic thought and is frequently asked to present at events both nationally and internationally. He also participates in training courses on Islamic issues to community leaders and government agencies in Australia and abroad. Of particular interest, given the current climate, is the promotion of inter-religious initiatives. He regularly engages with the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities at national and international symposia to enhance community understandings of Islam, Islamic thought and Muslim societies. He has authored and edited numerous works, reaching the broader scholarly and general community. His recent publications include The Qur’an: An Introduction, Routledge, 2008; Islamic Thought, Routledge, 2006; Interpreting the Qur’an: Towards a Contemporary Approach, Routledge, 2006; Approaches to the Qur’an in Contemporary Indonesia (editor), Oxford University Press, 2005; Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam (co-author), Ashgate, 2004.; Islam in Australia, Allen & Unwin, 2003. In addition to his strong research focus, Professor Saeed continues to teach Islamic studies at undergraduate and graduate levels and supervise graduate students.

Gary Shaw

Gary is an experienced educator, researcher and consultant with more than 30 years experience in Australian primary, secondary and tertiary education settings. He is currently with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Victoria managing a number of national projects in Victorian schools including the Values Education Forums Project, Civics & Citizenship Education and the Schools Constitutional Convention Program.

From 2001 to 2004 Gary was as a Research Fellow at the Australian Youth Research Centre, The University of Melbourne where he was engaged in research related to school improvement, teacher professional development, student engagement, student attendance and student wellbeing. Prior to this he managed student wellbeing projects and programs for the Department of Education, particularly for drug education and students at risk of leaving school early. Gary has also worked in gender equity and violence prevention programs for schools.

Catherine Devine

Catherine has been a teacher for 14 years teaching in metropolitan, regional and remote area schools in Victoria and Western Australia. She has coordinated Middle School, English and Literacy Faculties. Catherine has developed curriculum units of work in the area of Citizenship as part of the Discovering Democracy project and more recently has designed a co-curricula unit of work in the field of Values Education. Catherine worked on refining the Communication Standards for the Victorian Essential Learning Standards in 2006. She has provided Professional Learning workshops in the methodology of Socratic Circle dialogue in Government, Catholic and Independent schools. In 2008, Catherine attended a Teacher Summer School in Literacy and Numeracy, at the University of Wollongong. Since June 2006, Catherine has coordinated the Melbourne Interfaith and Intercultural Cluster as part of the Values Education Good Practice Schools - Stage 2.