Page 2916 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 24 June 2009

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The Baha’i faith was founded over a century ago in Iran and has more than five million followers across the world. I have met with representatives of the Baha’i community in the ACT and they have raised the plight of the seven leaders with me. It is of significant concern to the Baha’i international community that the crime of spreading corruption as set out in Iran’s penal code is cast in such vague terms as to place anyone accused of committing it in an extremely vulnerable position and opens the door to the authorities’ declaring any Baha’i activity a crime.

The report of this additional charge occurs against the backdrop of systematic and wide-ranging acts of persecution against the Baha’i. Such acts, carried out across Iran, include covert efforts to identify and monitor followers throughout the country; denial of access to higher education, earning a livelihood and obtaining business or personal bank loans, as well as the exclusion of Baha’i from civil service jobs, educational institutions and the legal profession; systematic efforts to drive all the Baha’i out of certain villages in rural areas; and persistent official denial that the Baha’i faith is a religion.

Given the current political situation in Iran, it is even more important that we bring to the attention of the world the plight of the Baha’i and raise concerns with Iranian representatives here in Australia so that Iran know the world is watching how they respond to their current political crisis and existing situations of human rights abuses in their country.

IMB Community Foundation funding program

MS BURCH (Brindabella) (6.13): There are just two things I would like to talk around briefly this afternoon. The first one is that on Monday I went to the presentation of the IMB Community Foundation funding program. The IMB Community Foundation committee chose 27 successful projects from 200 funding applicants for the 2009 round, and the successful projects included activities and initiatives involving the arts, youth, retired groups, families, the elderly, historical and community interest, intergenerational mentoring and community health matters.

It was pleasing to see that five of the 11 successful community projects to receive funding this week were from the ACT region. I would just like to make mention of them. The Marymead Child and Family Centre had two projects that were successful; one was the kids companions program and the second was “at home with books”. Communities@Work were successful in receiving funding for the Tuggeranong men’s shed. The Chamber of Women in Business ACT were successful in the grant round for the purple tick program, which is around supporting women in business, and the Queanbeyan Multilingual Centre got some funding support for their volunteer career mentor support for refugees.

I congratulate all these community groups who have received their funding and they will provide much needed programs and initiatives to our community. Funding through these small community groups really is a great stretch of the bang for the dollar because they facilitate great work and great outcomes for the community. So I want to congratulate those groups and also congratulate IMB Community Foundation for this great initiative.

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