CAIRO - A Muslim chaplain has been appointed to help accommodate the religious needs of students at the University of Melbourne, welcomed by the university officials as filling in the missing role for Islamic guidance on campus.
The Muslim community in Australia is a fast-growing population, there is a growing need to cater for them, Nail Aykan, General Manager of the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV), told The Age on Monday, May 13.
Mohammad [Ali Hijazi], who is 28, is part of that young majority.
Being part of university Chaplaincy programs is quite unique in the Australian Muslim community, and It's something we're proud of, he added.
Providing for different faiths, the University's Chaplaincy includes Chaplains of many different faiths who work together to support its diverse community.
Yet, finding an appropriate Muslim Chaplain to join the University was a quite a process.
At Melbourne, Chaplains are officially appointed by the Provost, the University's second-in-command and leader of students and learning.
Chaplains who serve in educational institutions in Victoria must be accredited by the Council for Chaplains in Tertiary Institutions (CCTI).
Trying to appoint a Muslim chaplain, the university officials contacted the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) to find someone appropriate.
It all comes back to finding the right person, and Mohammad is ideal, Aykan said.
It's a very good opportunity for the ICV to evolve its services, and now Mohammad's working at both Melbourne and at RMIT, It's really important because the Muslim community in Australia is relatively young.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
The 2011 Census identified 67 per cent of the Muslim community was under the age of 35.
The appointment of Melbourne University first Muslim chaplain was widely welcomed as filling an important void.
We provide care to all-comers, regardless of faith tradition, Reverend Wes Campbell, Coordinator of the Melbourne University's Chaplain program, told
It's essential we find new ways of providing that care, so It's fantastic Mohammad is joining us.
It's a good development and means the multifaith and multicultural realities we face in Australia are reflected in our Chaplaincy as we all work together.
Dan Persaud, Associate Director of Wellbeing Services, agreed, adding that the University's Chaplaincy serves all members of the University community.
The Chaplains are a crucial part of the Wellbeing Services team at the University, Persaud said.
I've always believed chaplaincy is an important part of any university, whether It's a faith-based or secular institution, to provide support to students and staff.
I'm really excited about having Mohammad here, and how we can use his expertise to build the chaplaincy experience. We're a modern chaplaincy, he added.
Appointed for the campus, Hijazi said he was excited to be joining the University.
Having worked at RMIT [the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology], I know I like engaging with the students in this way, which has made me want to continue this work at Melbourne.
We have a duty of care to the students, to look after their needs holistically and spiritually.