Most Australians are probably unaware that Buddhism is the second largest religion in Australia - and has been playing a role within our society since the gold rush.
A group of Deakin researchers are hoping to capture the role of Buddhism in Australia through the latest Research My World campaign that uses the Crowdfunding site Pozible to raise funds for research projects.
Mr Edwin Ng, Dr Anna Halafoff and Ms Praveena Rajkobal, who work within Deakin’s Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, hope to raise $10,000 for their “Buddhist Life Stories of Australia” project.
The funding will allow the researchers to record interviews with 12 prominent Buddhist community leaders from diverse traditions and locations across Australia.
The researchers also hope to build a “Buddhism in Australia” website that will feature the video recordings and a visual historical timeline that can be used as a resource for Buddhist communities and for broader educational purposes.
The Venerable Thich Phuoc Tan, Abbot of the Quang Minh Temple and Chair of the Australian Sangha Association, said that Buddhism is deeply important to some Australians.
“In the past 40 years, there are many untold stories of practitioners who have humbly served the people in this nation,” he said.
Dr Anna Halafoff also noted that “this project has been developed in partnership with Australia’s Buddhist communities, who have called for these oral histories to be recorded.”
The Deakin academics say that Buddhism has been relatively under-researched in Australia, despite the fact that it has played a significant role in society, particularly in the arts, healing and well-being, and in social and environmental activism.
Given that some of the leaders who established Buddhist Temples and communities in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s have recently passed away, the researchers note that there is an urgency to speak with prominent Buddhist leaders so that the vast body of knowledge they have on Buddhism in this country is preserved.