Buddhist Council of Queensland
Tradition : Non-denominational
PO Box 4510
Loganholme DC 4129
Fax : 3366 7388
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Buddhist Council of Queensland 1999 – 2009 Since the days following the Buddha’s passing over 2,550 years ago, the concept of Buddhist Councils has prevailed. First as the congress that brought together the Sangha, to define and agree on the Buddha’s teachings, and to form and regulate a structure for the Sangha which would ensure a common set of rules and expectations as they went out into the world, sharing his message.
A series of such Council were convened over the following centuries that continued to ratify and affirm the behaviour of Sangha and to confirm that the Buddha’s messages and values remained true and accurate, irrespective of who taught and where. Of course, along the way, there were divisions and splintering – sometimes due to geographical or cultural influences in the lands being travelled, or due to preferences for one particular teaching or practice that had attained a prominence through local acceptance, or otherwise.
The purpose of succeeding Councils was to once again, help ensure that the evolving traditions maintained the core of true philosophy and mutual respect for each other, viewing all as equal and assisting them in coming together to discuss matters of importance.
With the expansion of the dharma to the west, and more and more lay practitioners forming groups and centres, the Buddhist Councils continued to perform the unifying function empowering them to meet and share the dharma, and continue spreading the Buddha’s teachings everywhere.
Australia had Buddhist teachers and centres for many years before any attempt 14 was made to form an umbrella to support their mutual association and support them in their approaches for funding and other support in establishing and growing their respective centres.
By 1999, there had been Buddhist Council established in both Victoria and New South Wales and following representations with the Queensland Government of the day, it was recommended by both the government and the existing state Councils that Queensland, which by that time, had some fifty-five dharma centres operating, should form it’s own Council and was ultimately established later that year. The initial meeting of July 17, led to the formal establishment of the Buddhist Council of Queensland (BCQ) on December 3, 1999 and was subsequently incorporated under Queensland legislation on December 6, 2000.
Every year since then, a new management committee is chosen from amongst the dharma centres represented by the Council, to provide liaison with various Government departments, local, state and federal and to support those centres and groups of individual dharma students, in their dealings with those bodies, in all types of dealings – from requests for funding, building applications, provision of entry visas for visiting Sangha, and connecting people who seek information on the Buddhist philosophy to find local centres. This Council now advises the state Government’s Ministers in the areas of health and education, is deeply involved in the Multi-faith community, representing the Buddhist perspective and delivering talks and participating in forums and debates, and helps to facilitate the delivery of religious instruction to the state’s public schools. This Council is also actively involved in establishing and promoting Buddhist chaplaincy to schools, hospitals, prisons and other areas of need.
In order to strengthen the outreach and effectiveness of the combined state Councils in matters affecting the whole of Australia ( e.g. entry visas), soon after the BCQ was incorporated, it was also agreed that a peak body be established to unify the states when dealing with federal and international issues. To this end, the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils was established in 2003, and is presently registered in Victoria.
The evolution of these Councils has led to them today, being more concerned with the “executive”, or “operational”, aspects of dharma followers and their communities. When presented with matters of the Buddha’s teachings or their interpretation, the Councils have always referred such important matters to the Sangha community for comment, and while some Council have Sangha on their management committees at various times, there was no uniform or consistent approach in place. This, and the recognised need for the Sangha themselves to have a unified voice when needed, has also produced in just the past couple of years, to the formation of the highly successful Australian Sangha Association, that now deals specifically with any matters relating to the Sangha and discussion of the Buddha’s teachings.
This partnership has now been responsible for some notable achievements that include, in 2009, the placement of the Buddhist Dharmapada alongside the Bible in the Speaker’s despatch box in federal Parliament (the first such event in the entire Westminster system of parliament in the world), and the relaxation of the 457-Visa financial-capacity requirement for Sangha coming to Australia (Sangha take a vow of poverty, and the Government required them to show an income of almost $50,000 per year to enter – a difficult paradox indeed, that is until now).
The BCQ financial resources come only from donations of supportive people and centres. Were it not for the Queensland Government’s Q-150 initiative, this publication would never have been produced. It’s effectiveness is derived solely from the dedication and commitment of its elected management committee and their support for the Buddha’s message at the truly personal level, living the dharma and striving to benefit all sentient beings.