Sir Zelman Cowen Centre

Community & school legal programs

We work with diverse communities and high schools to promote multiculturalism, social cohesion and equal opportunity.

In 'Community & school legal programs':

Community governance training

Our community governance programs help community leaders and organisations understand and adhere to best practice in governance.

We provide:

  • training for community leaders and organisations in governance (including complaint handling, good decision making, risk management and general community accountability)
  • capacity building programs for community leaders on current issues such as family violence
  • faith-based dispute resolution training.

Faith-based training

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre has expertise in working with multicultural and multi-faith communities. We host a range of events and specialised training programs.

Faith-Based Governance & Dispute Resolution Conference

We will host the first international Faith-Based Governance & Dispute Resolution Conference on 5-6 December 2017.

The conference is an interfaith gathering of leaders in Melbourne.

The conference will coincide with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s report to government. In the light of this commission, many faith-based services are managing major reviews of their governance, including complaint handling, risk management and community accountability.

Aspire: Young Muslim Women's Governance & Leadership program

Aspire is a leadership and governance training program for high-achieving young Muslim women. The program is designed to help young women become leaders and influencers within their own communities.

Participants will:

  • work with Muslim community organisations
  • improve a selected aspect of the organisation’s governance
  • develop their individual leadership skills.

Delivered by the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre at Victoria University, in partnership with the Islamic Council of Victoria.

Apply for the Aspire program

Legal training for Muslim leaders & imams

We delivered Australia’s first legal training programs to Muslim women leaders and imams in 2016.

The two programs were funded by the Scanlon Foundation and featured during the Australian Government's Community and Philanthropy Partnerships Week in 2016.

Past community governance training projects

Imam training program

In partnership with the Islamic Council of Victoria, we delivered Australia's first training program to imams.

The 12-week program covered aspects of:

  • commercial law
  • family law
  • marriage and divorce.

The program was developed to support Victorian imams in their quasi-judicial role on the Islamic arbitral body, the Mejlis.


  • Islamic Council of Victoria
  • Scanlon Foundation.

Muslim women leaders legal training program

We partnered with the Islamic Council of Victoria to pilot a grassroots training program for 20 Muslim women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Participants were trained as peer-to-peer supporters of other women within their communities needing information and assistance with family law, including family violence issues.

Pilot funding was extended in 2017 for the women to organise ‘Home Gatherings’ for members of their communities. The aim is to facilitate a ‘ripple effect’, where information on family violence prevention and gender equality is exchanged in a safe space.

The first Home Gathering, a high tea aimed at empowering young Muslim women, received positive coverage by ABC News.


  • Islamic Council of Victoria
  • Scanlon Foundation.