Workshop ten highlights

21st - 22nd May, 2016

The tenth workshop of the National Imams Consultative Forum (NICF) was held over 21st-22nd May, 2016 in Melbourne. A total of 20 imams attended from around Australia including 9 from Victoria, 4 from New South Wales, 2 from Western Australia, 2 from Queensland, 2 from the Northern Territory and 1 Tasmania. This year there were also 3 Imams from New Zealand for the first time in the workshop's history.

The two-day workshop presented a number of interesting perspectives of distinguished academics, professionals and community leaders, all of whom were deeply knowledgeable of their respective fields. A particular theme of this year's forum was Muslim youth, the challenges they face and the leadership role of Imams in relation to this. Another constant theme was the importance of using the workshop as an opportunity to cultivate leadership and formulate coordinated responses to the number of pressing issues confronting the Muslim communities in Australia and New Zealand.

The workshop comprised a combination of speeches, lectures, panel discussions with Q&A and interactive workshops involving simulation exercises.

Highlights of this workshop included the academic presentation given by Dr David Malet of the University of Melbourne on Foreign Fighters and Radicalisation, which was grounded in historical evidence to demonstrate that the phenomenon has not been unique to the Muslim community.

Another highlight was the Mental Health Training workshop delivered by Ms Monique Toohey, who provided a comprehensive overview of the ways in which mental health uniquely affects the Muslim community, particularly among youth, and the role Imams can play in helping to address the issue. As demonstrated in the survey responses, this workshop was enlightening for many Imams in realising that mental health is an issue that requires greater attention within the Muslim community.

The panel discussion session on Perspectives of Youth was one of the most dynamic, as it encouraged a frank exchange of views between Muslim youth and Imams.

The Media Training workshops were highly successful, reflected both in the Imams' eager participation in the simulations and their positive responses to them in the surveys. As reflected in the survey responses, media training is an ongoing area in which Imams highlight the need to develop skills.

The tenth imams' workshop was well received by the imams.