IN an effort to share cultures and find things in common, people around the region have been coming together for iftar dinners.
Iftar (fast breaking) dinners are held during the month of Ramadan throughout the Illawarra so communities can gain insight into the Muslim culture and Islamic beliefs.
Iftar is an initiative of Affinity Intercultural Foundation Wollongong that aims to educate, bring together and build bridges among members and organisations from various communities.
Traditionally Muslim families around the world invite friends and family to share the iftar, however Affinity took it a step further and has hosted dinners with various politicians, religious leaders and individuals.
Affinity's general manager Bilal Aydemir said the dinners were an opportunity for individuals to engage in a first-hand cultural exchange.
"The feedback we have received from previous participants confirms that such engagement not only facilitates understanding of the Islamic faith and the Muslim culture but also enhances the Muslim community's sense of belonging and consequently its contribution to Australian society."
Lake Illawarra Local Area commander superintendent Wayne Starling took part in a dinner hosted by multicultural officer for Wollongong Police, Rima Elhage.
Superintendent Starling fasted for the day and said it generated respect for those that fast for the whole of Ramadan.
"It was very interesting and it really made me appreciate their discipline to last 30 days," Superintendent Starling said.
"Diversity is about us. We have so many nations who call Australia home now, with many benefits as a result.
"I now have two close friends in Bilal and his wife.
"Both hold the Muslim faith and I am proud to have them as friends. They are genuine, loving and Australia is a better nation for having people such as them a part of it."