Karen community reveals plans for $1.5 million monastery

BENDIGO'S thriving Karen community wants to create a place of harmony and reflection for all people, and a place for newly arrived refugees.

The Karen Buddhist Dhamma Dhutta Foundation submitted plans to the City of Greater Bendigo on Tuesday for a $1.5 million monastery in Eaglehawk.

The plan included a three bedroom dwelling to provide accommodation for refugees while they look for permanent residence.

The foundation also had plans for a community room on the same Pine Street property to cater for a diversity of faiths.

Venerable Ashin Moonieinda said the Karen community was pleased to have reached the submission stage.

This centre has many, many different goals. - Venerable Ashin Moonieinda

"This centre has many, many different goals," he said.

"The first goal is for refugee families, with a three bedroom house. Another goal is a place for religious leaders.

"The big building is for a community space and event space, with a place for meetings and a small office."

Bendigo's Karen community includes about 400 of Christian faith and 100 Buddhist Karen.

The community has grown from just seven people in 2007, with decades of unrest in Burma pushing increasing numbers of people to the Thai-Burmese border.

Venerable Ashin said the new monastery would not a place of religious division, but would allow everyone to look deep within their own self.

"The Buddhist way is not just for religion, but to improve people's lives, and invite people to obtain morality," he said.

"I like to think of it as the world having one cow that nourishes us. We all drink the produce from the same cow. We are all the same."

The Karen community began plans for the centre almost two years ago and has searched throughout Bendigo for an ideal location.

The City of Greater Bendigo's planning department would consider the application before taking it to the full council.

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