A crowd of representatives from across Victoria's faith communities joined Victoria’s faith and political leaders this morning for a special multifaith gathering on the steps of Parliament House.
Hosted by the Faith Communities Council of Victoria and the Multifaith Advisory Group (convened by the Victorian Multicultural Commission), the gathering brought Victorians together to pray for the people who have lost their lives and for the devastation of land, property, and wildlife caused by the recent bushfires.
With this fire season not yet over, and with relief and recovery efforts expected to take months if not years, this event demonstrated the strength of the Victorian community and the support Victorians have demonstrated for each other.
'Today is an opportunity for us to say thank you,' said Premier Daniel Andrews, 'for the amazing way we've come together. At a time we've seen the very worst of nature we've seen the best of the human spirit.'
'Great comfort has been taken from the sense that we're all in this together.'
The Premier listed some examples when faith communities responded to the needs of fire-affected communities, giving special mention to Melbourne's Sikh community who arrived in Bairnsdale with a food van, to the Greek Orthodox community who put took a collection at every service at every church across the state, and to the Jewish community who put together extensive care packages to families who had lost everything and to the Islamic community who spent time in prayer mourning impacted communities.
'So many people of faith both formally and informally coming together in kindness, love, and unity, bringing great comfort to so many people.'
'To all the faith leaders who are here today, thank you for all that you do and for all that you will be called upon to do again, no doubt.'
The morning offered some rare and welcome moments of bipartisanship and mutual respect with the Premier, the leader of the opposition and the leader of the Greens giving thanks to members of the emergency services and to faith communities for their support.