President’s Report 2023 – Ms Natasha Tang

Auspicious greetings!

Welcome to the year 2023 Buddhist Council of Western Australia Incorporated’s Annual General Meeting (AGM, 5 October 2023).

First, it is our great honour and privilege to welcome Ajahn Brahm and Mrs Cecilia Mitra, the ex. President of the Federation of Australian Buddhist Council, to be here with us this evening.

In October 2022, I was nominated as the President of BCWA, after numerous verbal invitations by Ajahn Brahm & Jake Mitra for Buddha’s Light International Association of WA to come on board with BCWA. My organisation felt it was the right moment to send me to represent them in 2021. Through the interactions in the last two decades with the Buddhist leaders in WA, we have formed a strong connection and trust among us. I have to say in short, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warm welcome. I am proud to be a member of the executive committee, and the BCWA’s President for the past 12 months.

This year, BCWA gained the support from Hon. Dr Tony Buti MLA, Minister for Education; Aboriginal Affairs; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, to hold the Vesak Celebration in WA Parliament. This event allowed BCWA to bring the Buddhist leaders and communities together for the celebration of this significant event in the Buddhist Calendar with the WA government. WA Government has emphasized that to have the Vesak Day Celebration is very fitting and would welcome such an event to be held annually in the Parliament. I have received many positive and encouraging feedback after the event which are very heartwarming.

BCWA has supported many Buddhist events in the past months, such as the VegRun organised by BLIAWA at the Perth Bell Tower. We also attended the annual Buddha’s Birthday and Multicultural Festival held in Perth Supreme Court Gardens. Other events held around Perth and represented by the BCWA executive committee, namely the 20th Anniversary of the Cambodian Buddhist Society of WA; Commemoration of Death Anniversary of the founder of Bhutan by Khansum Zilnon Drukpai Lhakhang Temple; Hayagriva Buddhist Centre Tara Wall consecration ceremony; WA Baha’i Community Holy Day Commemoration and so forth.

In the past months, BCWA has been in contact with the Queensland Sangha Association (in short QSA), to coordinate the Buddhist Chaplaincy Course made available to WA Buddhist groups. It is now confirmed that Dr Barbara Sullivan has taught the course for QSA for the past 8 years. She is a retired Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland, a current practising counsellor and a Buddhist Chaplain registered with the QSA. I believe there are five confirmed Buddhist members in WA who have registered for the course, which will be commencing on the 29th of October this month. I thank you for your participation in the Buddhist Chaplaincy course. In the hope that there are Buddhists available in this field to meet the needs of the public.

Today, BCWA will be going to hold the election for the 2023-2024 Committee. Before that, I would like to thank some of the outstanding and outgoing committee members. Mrs. Marlene Robins, my deputy President, was peacefully passed in March this year; Dr. Jake Mitra, who is now replacing Mrs Robins, Jake has been instrumental in the establishment and operation of BCWA for more than 17 years. As Jake has expressed to the committee, it is time for him to take a break, but I am sure the Council does need his wisdom and insights as the years go by. Last but not least, Bunthan, the quiet achiever, with strong support from his wife, Tholla. Ramani is also ready to step down and focus on her meditation journey. Thank you and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors with good health and joy.

Finally, I would like to thank my current Committee for the great team support and your compassion and wisdom. My secretary Sisilina for your hard work and dedication. Without each one of you, I would not be able to fulfil the work that BCWA aimed to do. Hence, our collective effort is so crucial to keep the council stable and healthy. Thank You.