On 17 March, representatives of the Abbotsleigh Interact Club had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Rotary Presidential Peacebuilding Conference at the Sydney Town Hall. The theme of this conference was 'Economic and Community Development and Peace', and was the fourth of six peacebuilding events hosted around the world.
The objective of the conference was to gather community leaders from around the world to explore peacebuilding and discuss strategies to prevent and resolve conflict from an international and local perspective. In what was a very insightful and rewarding experience, we listened to many speeches presented by both international and national leaders in the industries of economic and community development and peace. Underlying causes of conflict such as poverty, disease, lack of water and food, security and the lack of education in developing countries, which continue to occur today, were all discussed in great depth. Afterwards, presenters further informed delegates on the economic cost of conflict within a country as well as the reconciliation process once peace has been established.
Peace underpins the values of Rotary, and it was clearly demonstrated in the conference the immensely powerful effect it can make on our society. We heard ideas from many scholars, who discussed terrorism, the empowerment of rural communities for reconciliation and sustainable peace through socio-economic development initiatives in post-genocide Rwanda, and social cohesion in enabling the participation and inclusion of migrants in Australian communities. Our experience was furthered in subsequent sessions in which academics discussed the effects of cyberbullying in our 'binary' world that relies on 'yes/no' and 'like/dislike', as well as protecting children's rights in promoting peace. Peace, as the central theme of the conference, was discussed in many forms throughout the conference.
We express our gratitude to the Rotary Club of Hornsby, as well as to the patrons of the Abbotsleigh Interact Club, Mrs Bradfield, Mrs Cooper, and Mrs Selby for their support and organisational skills. A quote which stood out to us, which we would like to share, is by Martin Luther King Jr, 'True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.'