14 June 2011
David Southwick, Member for Caulfield, this evening co-hosted a reception for the AFLPeace Team Delegation.
The AFL Peace Team is an initiative of the Australian Chapter of The Peres Centre. Through Aussie Rules football, it aims to bring Israelis and Palestinians together by providing common ground on which the players can build mutual understanding and respect.
The delegation, led by Coach Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico, visited VictorianParliament House and met with Members of Parliament from all parties who supportthis message of peace.
This is the first time two friendship groups have hosted an event of this nature.
“’I was pleased to facilitate this ground breaking event last night along with my Parliamentary colleagues. This is the first time Parliamentary friendship groups from Palestine and Israel have come together in the name of peace in the Middle East.”
“The Peace Team is a wonderful initiative that engages the transcending nature of sport to bring together young people from the Middle East to meet and work together in a team.” said David.
“If young Palestinian and Israeli kids can play football together then Members of Parliament of different political backgrounds should be able to show leadership and puttheir differences aside when it comes to important issues like Peace in the Middle East.”
“Dipper’ who will coach the Peace Team when they return to Australia to compete in the AFL International Cup series from August 12th -27th 2011, will be leading an Australian delegation, including Peace Team Ambassador and Western Bulldogs board member, Henry Jolson QC. This follows the trip last month to Israel by AFL Ambassador andformer Sydney Swans Captain Brett Kirk, to train with the AFL Peace Team.
In 2008, local Sydney woman Tanya Oziel achieved her dream of creating and contributing to peace in the Middle East. In cooperation with the Peres Centre for Peace and its Australian Chapter, they created the first joint Palestinian-Israeli AFL team, consisting of men aged 18-35 from all over Israel and the West Bank who not only didn’t know each other, but also didn’t know the game.
The event at Parliament House was hosted by the Speaker, the Hon Ken Smith MP, and co-convened by the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel in conjunction with the Victorian Parliamentary friends of Palestine. The Members who spoke in support of the Peace Team were the Speaker; David Southwick and Marsha Thomson as Co-chairsof the Friends of Israel and Bronwyn Halfpenny and Colleen Hartland, Co-chairs of theFriends of Palestine.
“Tonight’s event allowed the Victorian Parliament to extend a hand of peace and offriendship to the Middle East. It is clear that all Members of this Parliament support this initiative and I thank the Peace Team delegation for visiting our Parliament to bring this message of peace.”
Media: David Southwick 9527 3866