Venerable Mahinda was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk in 1976 under the tutelage of Venerable Dr K Sri Dhammananda. He undertook basic Buddhist studies and training in Sri Lanka and practised Buddhist meditation under several masters in Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar and Thailand. He is also acquainted with the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions. His participation in international conferences and multifaith dialogues, as well as teaching Buddhism and meditation, has taken him to more than 30 countries to date.
Venerable Mahinda is the Abbot of the Aloka Meditation Centre, located in Peats Ridge, NSW and founder Spiritual Director of the Australian Buddhist Mission. He also serves as spiritual advisor/patron to a number of Buddhist organisations in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Venerable Mahinda is founder of the Metta Round the World project, uniting peace-loving people throughout world in meditation and prayer for world peace, harmony and stability.
Professor Shane Houston is a Gangulu man from Central Queensland. He has worked in Aboriginal Affairs for more than 35 years holding many roles at local, state, national levels. Shane has worked intensely in the community sector over a number of decades including as a CEO of an Aboriginal Medical Service and National Coordinator of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Organisation. He has also held senior executive positions in the public sector for more than 17 years.
Professor Shane Houston took up his current position at the University of Sydney as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) and is the first Aboriginal person to be appointed to such a senior role at any Australian university.
The former health administrator brought this unfailingly positive attitude with him when he arrived at Sydney in April 2011, tasked with making the University a central national player in bridging the social divide that confronts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Professor Houston completed his PhD at Curtin University in 2003 graduating with a Chancellor’s Commendation. Shane was appointed Adjunct Professor of Health Sciences at Curtin University in 2006 and Professor in the School of Medicine University of Note Dame, Sydney in 2008. In 2009 Shane was awarded the Chief Minister’s Public Service Medal for meritorious and outstanding public service for his contributions aimed at improving the cultural security of services in the health sector.
Dr. Susan Murphy Roshi is the founding teacher of Zen Open Circle in Sydney Australia. She is also teacher for the Melbourne Zen Group, conducting a number of sesshin (7 day retreats) in both cities each year. She is the dharma heir of John Tarrant Roshi (Pacific Zen Institute) and Ross Bolleter Roshi (Diamond Sangha - Robert Aitken), in a lay lineage that draws Soto and Rinzai (koan) style of practice together.
Susan is a writer, radio producer and film director, as well as teaching and mentoring writing in private consultation and occasional meditation and writing retreats. She taught film for many years at the University of Technology, Sydney, has co-written three books on film, and directs the annual Buddhist Film Festival in Sydney established in 2003. She has a special interest in the way Zen and indigenous Australian sense of 'care for country' come together, co-leading occasional retreats in country with Dulumunmun, Uncle Max Harrison,Yuin Elder.
Susan is the author of the book, Upside Down Zen and her latest book is Minding the Earth, Mending the World: The Offer We Can No Longer Refuse, a Zen response to our slow-burning planetary emergency.
“The more I give… the more I keep” is the philosophy of Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison, a Yuin elder from Narooma on the South East Coast of Australia. People come to his workshops from around the world to learn how to reconnect with the land and to be mentally, physically and spiritually healed. As an elder, it’s crucial to Yuin cultural survival that Uncle Max pass on these ancient customs and beliefs.
Max believes that the more people he teaches, whether it’s through his book ‘My People’s Dreaming’ or workshops, the more likely he will succeed in leaving legacy for his grandchildren and everyone interested in caring for country.
′Uncle′ Max has been sharing his cultural knowledge for over 30 years - in that time taking more than 6000 people from all walks of life onto country and explaining Aboriginal ways. In his book he states that the teachings he reveals are ′the living treasures of his life′.
Uncle Max provides simple and clear understandings into Aboriginal culture for people from all nationalities. His teachings cover their Creation Dreaming, bush lore, foods, healing, laws and punishment, spirituality and the significance of relationship to land.
In passing on traditional wisdom Uncle Max focuses on three truths: See the land...the beauty; Hear the land...the story; Feel the land...the spirit.
Dr. Charika Marasinghe holds a Bachelor of Laws Honours degree from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Master of Letters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in International Law from the University of Oxford, UK, specialising in International Human Rights and Child Rights Law. In a career spanning nearly 30 years, she served as a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo for 17 years, as Deputy Chairperson and a member of the National Child Protection Authority, and as a trainer and a resource person in the field of human rights, child rights and women’s rights at diverse conferences and institutions, both local and international.
Dr. Marasinghe has been a volunteer of Sarvodaya, the largest NGO in Sri Lanka, for more than three decades, co-founding the Sarvodaya Legal Services Movement in 1985 and the Sarvodaya ‘Ma Sevana’ in1999, the first home in Sri Lanka for; child/teenage mothers who have been victims of rape; As a trustee of the Vishva Niketan International Peace and Meditation Centre in Sri Lanka (the spiritual arm of Sarvodaya), she co-founded the psycho-spiritual healing programme for Sri Lankan prison inmates, in 1999. She is responsible for the overall management of the Vishva Niketan and for developing and implementing programmes, workshops and dialogues on inner peace and outer peace.
She was the co-recipient of the ‘Women and Engaged Buddhism Award’ (2008) of the Buddhist Council of Midwest, USA, for conceiving a psycho-spiritual healing programme for Tsunami survivors, and the recipient of ‘An Outstanding Woman in Buddhism Award' (2009) from Thailand, for exceptional development of wisdom and compassion in the protection of child rights. She was also the Volunteer National Coordinator of the Metta Convention 2014 in Sri Lanka.
Alison Hunt was born at Areyonga, 220km west of Alice Springs. Her Pitjantjatjara family’s traditional homelands are the South-West Peterman Ranges in the Northern Territory and across the order to Wingilina and Iruntji in Western Australia. Her childhood was spent growing up in Western Arrernte country with adopted family, learning skills in the traditional bush tucker and bush medicines of the land. Later in life, Alison returned to her mother’s Pitjantjatjara country to re-connect with her own culture and to learn from her traditional elders.
Today Alison Hunt is a well-known and respected elder in both Western-Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara cultures and throughout Central Australia. She has actively worked in many Aboriginal communities, as well as for many Aboriginal organisations, various departments within the Northern Territory Government, and has also sat as a consultant on many boards, including the Central Land Council, and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Currently she is employed as an Aboriginal liaison officer and consultant to Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.
Alison Hunt also has a strong passion for representing her people and sharing her culture, knowledge, and experience with non-indigenous people. She is a gifted and wise teacher and works with bush tucker and bush medicines, and her knowledge and experience of traditional culture.
You can read more about Alison’s story here.