Australia is a multi cultural country containing a wide range of ethnically and religiously diverse peoples, allowing benefits for Australian society. However, it can pose a potential challenge to social harmony and cohesion because to one faith the idea of what is scared or important may contrast entirely with another. Interfaith dialogue is therefore an effective method for avoiding such clashes.
It is a movement aimed towards promoting and understanding different religious traditions, and to clear up any misunderstandings or conflicts. Though debate and argument can be an issue, it is not what it aims to promote, Wendy Wilkie, a Uniting church Delegate stated “ …many Christians and Muslims would see the only reason you talk to somebody of another faith is to convert them to your own…” which is why these discussions can be difficult.
The four principles of Dialogue are; it begins when people meet each other, depends on mutual understanding and trust, makes it possible to share in service to the community and Dialogue becomes the medium of authentic witness. These principles are all effective and vital to help sustain peace between religions in such a multi-faith country, and therefore Inter-faith Dialogue is of great importance in Australia.
A large number of Inter faith initiatives have taken place in Australia; an example is the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews, beginning in March 2003 aiming to provide opportunities for these faiths to build understanding and to clarify contentious issues with their respective faiths. Since the amount of religious diversity in Australia is so great, the importance of discussion and resolution through Inter-Faith dialogue is crucial, as clashes between these faiths is an inevitable reality.