What Makes a Compassionate City?

Lynne Reeder: Australia — A Continent for Compassion

Ballarat, Australia

Lynne-13A compassionate city is made up of a critical mass of people who want to nurture and develop themselves in the recognition that they, and the world they live in, are all interdependent.

Relating to each other with an awareness of the nature of our humanity, allows us to grasp the fact that suffering is an inherent part of the human experience. When the inhabitants of communities are sensitive to the suffering of others and have a motivation to support them, then they are on the way to becoming a compassionate community. When we fail to grapple the conditions that lead to suffering we leave our communities with feelings of “stuckness” that impacts on the opportunity to create meaningful social change.

In countries like Australia new levels of courage are required to deal with the contradiction that we live with both a high quality of life and with high levels of personal suffering. Australia is a first world country and yet suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians aged between 15 and 44, and in Victoria where I live the homeless numbers in 2016 were 22,789 in a population of 1.4 million with the majority younger people. As well, Indigenous Australians tend to die earlier than non-Indigenous Australians and their incarceration rates are almost twelve times those of non-Indigenous Australians.

In my role as the Lead Facilitator of the project Australia: A Continent for Compassion, I am personally committed to growing the courage I need to address these contradictions, by facilitating a substantial and nationally resourced movement to advance the vision of Australia becoming a Continent for Compassion in 2021.  To achieve this vision I, and members of the Australian Compassion Council will be developing compassionate cities, creating compassionate action networks, and holding a National Day of Compassion across Australia.


~Dr Lynne Reeder is the lead facilitator for the Australian Organising Group of the Charter for Compassion and along with other members of the Australia Organising group is working to create Australia as a Continent for Compassion in 2021. Lynne is a Board Director of the public good think tank Australia21, and in that role she created the Mindful Futures Network to map new innovations in mindfulness, empathy and compassion across Australian organisations. She is an Adjunct Fellow in the Faculty of Health at Federation University Australia and in 2015 she completed a research study which examined the role of empathy conversations as a policy tool, presenting the findings at the 3rd Global Empathy conference at the University of Oxford, UK. She completed her PhD at Monash University on the international relations theory of global interdependence, which included a focus on the ethical aspects of global governance. She trained as a meditation teacher with Deepak Chopra in the US and currently teaches mindfulness at a regional hospital-based Wellness Centre.

Copyright © 2017 Excellence Reporter

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