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We Can Make a Difference

“Action for change, for establishing global harmony and peace, starts and ends with the individual, you and me” 

Stephen Hill et al,The Kyoto Manifesto for Global Economics p 522

Faced with so many world challenges – climate change, the rapid advance of technology and global conflict, it is no wonder we all experience a sense of helplessness.

Join the final Communities of Practice 2019 to break free and build solutions with a supportive, diverse and skilled community. Hear from three speakers who have each faced insurmountable odds to help change the world for the better. Share your own experiences and insights and learn through a day of practice how together, we can make a difference.


Keynote Speakers

Rev Bill Crews
Rev Bill Crews

Rev Bill Crews AM

We Can Make a Difference

My life changed irrevocably in 1971. I had been volunteering at the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross when what I can only call a religious experience called me to give up my employment as a successful engineer to work with the homeless and most needy. Ever since I have been trying to make sense of that experience. I have, in my own imperfect way, doggedly tried to stay true to that calling.  What I have noticed is the more I do what I was called to do, the more I touch humanity in its deepest recesses. What I have learned is that there are many people who talk about love and compassion but very few who actually do it. It’s the “doing” of love that is important. 

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill

Professor Stephen Hill AM

Power of the Four C’s: Culture, Creativity, Care and Commitment

Making a Difference in a Major Disaster – based on personal experience in one project under Stephen’s responsibility for the United Nations dealing with the aftermath of the Aceh Tsunami, Boxing Day 2004.

Focus: Healing the deep trauma of orphaned children – supported by his Film, ‘Rising Above the Tsunami’.

Lessons: Show the power or “The Four C’s” – Culture, Creativity, Care and Commitment: step-by-step bringing the children out from the alien voice of deep fear in their  consciousness through music and creativity into the home of meaning and existence in their supportive culture.

Condition: Professional support and deep love and care.

John Hatton
John Hatton

John Hatton

Making Change Happen

Believe in yourself. The power of integrity. Courage and persistence. Working with others, learning, challenging and spiritual reflection. Wisdom through experience.

One of nine started life in a hut in the bush. Family is the foundation.

My rock is marriage, faith, family, community.

Team work, uniting competing community groups with a vision, facilitated election to the local council.

Elected to parliament by doorknocking. Door knocked towns over two hundred kilometres twice. Elected third attempt, independent MP 22 years. Parliament exposing corruption, mafia, corrupt police. Death threats. Volunteer team, research, community inter-agencies. Learning, sharing, questioning. Opponents lose if they can’t buy or silence you.

Workshop Facilitators

Tom Halbert
Tom Halbert
Venerable Juefang
Venerable Juefang

Tom Halbert and Venerable Juefang

Spiritual and Environmental Preservation Practice and Turning Points Stories

A spiritual practice for an environmental purpose.

An environmental practice for a spiritual purpose.

Inspired by Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s talk ‘Spiritual and Environmental Preservation’, a talk which addresses the modern crises. And, seeing that the 99% of what is needed to address the these crises is at hand, ready to go, ready to be employed. The 1% that is needed to activate the 99% is a Spiritual and Environmental Preservation Practice (SEPP).

In the workshop, we will practise the 8 ingredients of the SEPP path including; developing our spiritual elan in the face of these crises, co-creating a format for study groups following on from the CoP sessions, and telling our Turning Points stories

Elizabeth King
Elizabeth King

Dr Elizabeth King

Collective Wisdom

We all work with and within organisations – schools, charities, hospitals, small and big businesses, governments. And yet, it is clear that the community is losing faith in our organizations and leaders.

Why has this happened? How can we build organisations that effectively integrate profit with purpose? What is the role of mindfulness and mindful leadership?

This workshop addresses these compelling questions – in particular how organisations become mindful, and in doing so produce collective wisdom. Collective wisdom is a form of mindfulness that emphasises attention to a shared purpose. The vision for this workshop is to convene a dialogue to describe collective wisdom in organizations and design interventions to develop it.

Gawaine Powell-Davies
Gawaine Powell-Davies

Gawaine Powell Davies

Engaging with the Community

A healthy person is a connected person, and a strong community is an engaged community. In this workshop we will explore how an engaged community works, and the opportunities for individuals, families, organisations and communities to become more engaged. We will hear examples from the Buddhist Council of NSW and from the experience of participants. 

Participants will be encouraged to review their own engagement, and identify where they may want to develop this over the next year.

Sue Sumskis
Sue Sumskis

Dr Sue Sumskis

Communities of practice – Join the Global Compassion Game

Join Nan Tien’s Compassion Games Team. The workshop challenge is to develop and plan a short community compassion project. Participants may decide on individual actions, such as random acts of kindness, or develop a group plan to give back to the community! What we do is entirely up to us and will be decided in the workshop.

The aims of the workshop are to; develop a Compassion Games Team; amplify what’s already working in our local communities; engage to address local challenges; and contribute to the global compassion report map.

Come along, have some fun, and create action and results from your compassionate intentions!

Alex Trauth-Goik
Alex Trauth-Goik
Jade Hutchinson
Jade Hutchinson

Alex Trauth-Goik and Jade Hutchinson

‘Adapting to Difference’: Equipping Youth with Principles to Navigate the Digital Landscape

The internet holds the potential for great progress and great harm. As the world becomes a more complex and confusing place, young people are being affected by unprecedented change and challenged to adapt to the difference. The development of the internet, among other things, has placed great strain on the classical idea of a carefree, youthful experience. Although young people are provided insight into global affairs by using the internet, they have become increasingly concerned by the imminency of global problems. 

While youths positively connect with their peers through social media, their prolific adoption of portable handheld devices has installed a virtual social network in which there can be no ‘logging-off’. Dependent on its user, the internet can be a conduit for youthful expression, positive activism and social engagement, learning and cooperation. 

In this workshop Jade and Alex explore these and other issues and collaborate with participants to formulate ‘principles’ that will help young people navigate the digital landscape and engage with the internet in meaningful ways.

Venerable Miaoyou
Venerable Miaoyou

Venerable Miaoyou

Meditation Workshop: Connecting Mind and Heart

We all know about mindfulness, what about the heartfulness?

Heartful awareness detects patterns programming; By consistently experiencing moments of authentic heartful awareness, we create changes in our bodies, brains, spirit and psyche. Heart awareness heals wounds, reduce stress and anxiety. Do we want to reclaim our lives to hear the calmness and re-make choices so that to we can change our blue-print? 

This workshop will raise awareness in the way we think and feel about our inner world.

Venerable Miaoyu
Venerable Miaoyu

Venerable Miaoyu

The Pathway to Happiness

People from all backgrounds are actively pursuing happiness in everything they do, seeking solutions to effectively handle the demands of life. Coping with the volatility, uncertainty, change and ambiguity of modern society can present challenges to our relationships without tried and tested guidelines. The pace of our lives can impact our health, but a moment of thought can transform our daily lives. Are we recognising the wealth we already have?

The aspects of health, wealth and relationships will all be explored in an insightful ‘fireside chat’ with Venerable Miaoyu – a rare opportunity to access her broad experience and hear responses to a facilitated Q&A session.

Venerable Youji
Venerable Youji

Venerable Youji

Mindful Art: Doodling Chan

Doodling helps one to concentrate, to be more productive, and keeps you in the present moment. Doodling is an outlet for every day creativity and helps you generate ideas.

In this doodling workshop, through creating Dharma cards, we hope to explore how doodling can help us achieve mindfulness. Tapping upon our creative energies, we seek to look within at how doodling can take us to the meditative stage of mind and bring forth the Chan in us.



Magali Goriand and Bruce McKenzie

On “How to participate in action to achieve community and peace”

The workshop was very experiential. We started with identifying the characteristics of a peaceful and harmonious community.

We introduced systems thinking techniques including conversation mapping (rich picturing) that are designed to pool ideas and emerge insights from groups giving equal voice to all.

The participants identified patterns from the rich picture that they had created about how to build a peaceful and harmonious community.

They also learned how to use these techniques to help foster and facilitate such communities. The participants synthesised their experience and shared how they could use it. Each of them enjoyed the experience and endeavoured to put it into practice within their communities. For those interested in learning more about these techniques, more information is available from Bruce and Magali.

Ben Campbell

On Gawaine Powell Davies’ “Engaging With the Community”

What does a flourishing community look like? In this workshop, facilitator Dr. Gawaine Powell Davies defined a flourishing community as one where its participants feel a sense of belonging, stay engaged, and actively participate in its growth.  

Workshop participants were asked to think about their own communities at the individual, family, neighborhood, and societal levels and to consider the extent to which they feel a sense of belonging, engagement, and active participation in each. Following this discussion, Dr. Powell Davies introduced the group to the Buddhist Council of New South Wales, for which he was recently appointed Chair, and sought feedback about how it can evolve into the future.

Rod Poynter

On Sue Sumskis’ “Join the Global Compassion Games”

A friendly group of nine took part in this challenging workshop, aiming to develop
community projects for the international “Global Compassion Games” initiative.

Facilitator Sue Sumskis, a member of the “Australian Compassion Council,” explained that the degree of compassion we possess is partly due to our parents’ values, and our family upbringing.

Participants introduced themselves, outlining their own thoughts on compassion. We were then divided into two teams, to investigate compassion from the perspectives of our ability to receive it from others, and give it to ourselves. Emotions such as pride and anger were identified as barriers to accepting compassion from others; while self-esteem issues influence our ability to give self-compassion. Sue also spoke of the toll of stress on mind and body and how, by giving self-compassion, we’re healing ourselves. 

To conclude, participants opted to contribute through individual actions. Their progress will be regularly updated on the “Global Compassion Games” website.

Simon Piggott

On Venerable Miaoyu’s “The Pathway to Happiness”

Participants were invited to consider which sort of happiness is being pursued – the temporary, ephemeral goals of modern society or longer lasting happiness, informed by right view. This was further detailed with an overview of the importance of positivity, self-development, overcoming challenge, selflessness, empathy and the philosophy of giving in contributing to happiness.

Venerable Miaoyu explored how Causes and Conditions, Right View, Preparation, Expectation, Acceptance, Development and Attainment all positively impact obtaining happiness, before bringing the group together for a closing action exercise.

Participants recorded their personal commitments towards achieving happiness throughout the workshop before coming together as groups for commitments towards the ongoing expansion of happiness via the Nan Tien Temple, Institute and Buddha Light International Association. 

Michael Minehan

On Venerable Miaoyou’s “Meditation Workshop : Connecting Mind and Heart”

We had 17 participants.

The group were quite forthcoming in their participation which made for an active productive workshop.

They were invited to express what they thought Mindfulness and Heartfulness were.

Was there a difference between the two? Do they interrelate? Can one influence the other?

We were exploring the different emotions and bodily experiences on how words can affect the body.

We started with Metta meditation and then we focused on words like, peaceful, joyful and calm.Noticing how the body felt then we changed to concentration on upset or anger.

They expressed that contemplating “anger” had many effects on them including increased heart rate, uneasiness, tightness in the chest, change in breathing, and sweating.The group could see how Mindfulness related to their ability to be present in the moment and enabling them to be aware of their feelings and emotions without “automatic” behaviour. They also developed an understanding of how Heartfulness was important in the acceptance of the “way things are” without “judgement” and the ability to “let go” to enable healing of wounds, reduce stress & anxiety enabling them to move on with their life. Ven. Miaoyou explained that “you are the only one who can change you” and the group developed a sound understanding of this concept to apply it in their daily life.

Chris Villy

On Elizabeth King’s “Collective Wisdom”

Elizabeth’s work shop was concerned with collective wisdom. Elizabeth posited this was needed now, more than ever due to a general disillusionment in society stemming from a lack of faith in corporations, businesses and governments. The traditional monolithic model that see these entities as a source of guiding wisdom have failed society to a large degree and are the basic cause of this disillusionment. This is evident in the various issues that have arisen from poor governance, scandals and incidences that we have all witnessed in our lifetimes. Elizabeth believes the answer to these problems, though her years of study, lies in the development of collective wisdom – wisdom of the many, not the wisdom of the few. However Elizabeth is very clear this in no mean feat as the problem is far larger than one may think. With the short time available, Elizabeth stressed two things that can set us on this journey. Mindfulness is a necessary ingredient, but Elizabeth is clear it is not any old mindfulness, it’s mindfulness in an ethical framework. Elizabeth also asked us to think about the problem in small break-out groups and then come up with one thing each, that we as individuals, can change and contribute to the collective wisdom.

Brandy Luo

On Venerable Youji’s “Mindful Art: Doodling Chan”

When asked to draw a picture, most of us may dodge, believing it is an interest for talented people. In the workshop of Mindful art: Doodling Chan, Venerable Youji showed u how doodling can guide us to a better state of mind by creating unique Dharma cards.

Venerable Youji showed some of her doodling works and practised simple doodling patterns like circles, lines, curves with all attendees, guiding everyone to feel the present moment when we are fully concentrated and mindfully.

With mindful check in, everyone started to design their own Dharma cards. That moment of inner peace must be like a long-lost friend for many of us who’s got lost in this anxious society. With a pen, a piece of paper, sit down and slow down from a rushing life. It was the present moment that we could control well with mindfulness.

Confidence and patience were gained from Venerable Youji’s wisdom words. Indeed, there’s no right or wrong in art. We were creating what’s in our mind. There’s no need to focus on how others see good or bad. It was our own artwork. This was what mattered.

We usually have no confidence in ourselves when we are doing things that we are not good at and can easily lose patience in dealing with them. Doodling is a mirror reflects the inside us, revealing our frustration, doubts and anxiety in real life and showing us where to start to change. Gradually, As each circle, lines we draw gets better, more patience we can gain from doodling, more tolerant we will become in our community.

Fred Neville

On Alex Trauth-Goik and Jade Hutchinson’s “Equipping Youth with Principles to Navigate the Digital Landscape”

The central question underpinning the workshop topic was: “How is it possible to transcend modern society’s inclination towards “individualism”, characterised by self-aggrandisement, particularly via the internet, by instead using the same medium to awaken a collective consciousness of oneness of humanity?

After a brief outline by Alex and Jade about the nature of these two seemingly polar-opposite concepts, participants split into working groups to explore and report back their conclusions about possible empowering principles for using the internet. Each group was assigned a specific aspect of internet usage to focus on, in the context of the central question posed. The areas of focus for the exercise were grouped either as:

“Positively orientated”
Self education and self-actualisation using the internet
Internet etiquette and compassion, in how we treat others online; 


“Issue orientated”
Social media – focusing on mental health, social pressure, and manipulation of young minds by business

Moving from “individual thinking” to “collective collaboration” through the internet

How to maintain a healthy online/offline balance

What was a very collaborative exercise generated many worthy insights from a Humanistic Buddhist perspective of the potential of the internet. Here are just a couple of examples:

“Engage in a discussion surrounding the language of ‘compassion’ and ‘respect’ online”.

“Are you adding value to your life or trying to find an escape from boredom”?

The Communities of Practice is a non-profit volunteer run initiative. If you would like to get involved, please contact us at