Forums held in hope of making Ballarat a compassionate city

LEADERS: Lynne Reeder and Marilyn Turkovich at the leadership conference organised by Federation University Australia’s Business School. Picture: Lachlan Bence
LEADERS: Lynne Reeder and Marilyn Turkovich at the leadership conference organised by Federation University Australia’s Business School. Picture: Lachlan Bence

A series of forums is the first step to making Ballarat a compassionate city, the next will be putting together a steering group. ​

The Charter of Compassion launched in the United Nations in 2009, with the Australian Parliament signing and affirming the charter. 

Global director Marilyn Turkovich said the charter looked to implement programs essential to bringing about change in the world.

“The main thrust would be to work with cities at a grassroots level, where people locally would identify problems that made their communities uncomfortable places in which to live,” she said.

“Then for them to put together an action plan, work with local government, hopefully get that action plan endorsed as a legal document and see that it would be carried through.”

Ms Turkovich emphasised each city would have different focuses depending on its major concerns such as homelessness, youth affairs, education or healthcare.

“Once you start a compassionate initiative you try to find people within the community that are doing really good things and team up with them to increase their level of success,” she said.

Ms Turkovich has travelled from the United States to speak at the forums the Australian Compassion Council is bringing to cities nationwide with Ballarat the first stop. 

Lead facilitator Dr Lynne Reeder said there were already 405 compassionate cities around the world and 54 countries, with the council hoping Australia could be the first continent. 

She said while compassion was often viewed as a soft skill, it in fact took a lot of courage.

“It’s seeing suffering and moving towards addressing it, so it’s taking action,” Dr Reeder said.

“It’s quite a courageous thing to engage in compassion because you have to deal with people going through tough times.”

Three forums were held in Ballarat across Tuesday and Wednesday looking at compassionate leadership, compassion in healthcare and compassion in education. 

Federation University, Ballarat Health Services, Australian Catholic University, Loreto College and Buninyong and District Community Bank are some of the organisations already behind the initiative and provided speakers for the talks.

For more information visit charterforcompassion.org.