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Seminar 7b: Voices of peace and community to inspire youth

Universal Peace Federation Australian vice-president John Bellavance was also a key speaker at youth leadership program Future Voices’ governance and volunteering forum at the Shepparton Senior Citizens’ Centre.

Mr Bellavance has worked in the non-profit sector for 30 years.

In the 1980s, he and his wife Anne worked with the African American community to fight crack cocaine. His efforts were recognised by the White House, with President Ronald Reagan sending him a letter of appreciation for his efforts to rid America of the social ill.

In the early ’90s, Mr Bellavance took this fight against drugs to his home country of Canada, where he was able to make the use of illicit drugs a state campaign issue.

In the ’80s and ’90s he worked with the Summit Council for World Peace to encourage political leaders to support the work of its founder Rev Dr Moon to mobilise political leaders to foster world peace.

In Australia, non-government organisation the Universal Peace Federation has a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. www.upf.org

Another key guest speaker, the Hon Wendy Lovell MP, shared her story and discussed structures, issues and challenges in the Victorian political system. Parliament of Victoria.

She was elected to the Legislative Council as a Member for North East Province in 2002. Following the reform of the upper house and the creation of new seats, she contested and won the seat of Northern Victoria Region in November 2006 and was re-elected in 2010 and 2014.

Following her graduation from Wanganui Park High School, Wendy studied a Business Studies course at Shepparton TAFE in preparation for a career in small business. Wendy is a graduate of Fairley Leadership Program.

Wendy was a successful small business woman in one of Victoria’s largest newsagencies before she was elected. She was Owner and Manager of Lovell’s Shepparton Newsagency and her time in charge of the newsagency instilled in her a sense of passion for the development and support of small business.

A sense of community is important to Wendy. Well known for her commitment to local service clubs and fundraising committees it is this sense of community, particularly for rural and regional areas within her electorate, that makes her determined to continue to fight for a fair go for country Victoria.

Some of the community organisations she is involved with include the Rotary Club of Shepparton South, the Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Blue Ribbon Foundation.

Wendy was made opposition spokesperson for Women’s Affairs in 2002 and added spokesperson responsibilities for Aboriginal Affairs and Consumer Affairs before being promoted to the Shadow Ministry. She was made the Shadow Minister for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Women’s Affairs in 2006. In opposition Wendy was also the Shadow Minister for Country Victoria, Housing and Children & Early Childhood Development. In 2008, Wendy was elected the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council.

In Government, Wendy served as the Minister for Housing, Minister for Children & Early Childhood Development and Deputy leader of the Government (Legislative Council).

Wendy is currently Opposition Whip (Legislative Council).

Our final speaker, Monsignor Peter Jeffrey, was parish priest for 16 years at St Brendan’s Catholic Church in Shepparton before leaving for New Zealand in January 2012. Monsignor Jeffrey, who has also worked in Euroa, Wodonga and Beechworth, had been appointed Director of New Zealand’s National Catholic Seminary.

He is now back in the Sandhurst Diocese, and is the parish priest of St Mary’s Church in Mooroopna. He has extensive experience in the interfaith network and in working with diverse communities to improve understanding and community supports.