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By the 2000s one of the fastest growing religions in Australia, Buddhism first came to Melbourne with the mixed religious traditions of Chinese labourers, for example in the South Melbourne See Yup Temple (1856). Interest in Buddhism was also fostered by the Melbourne Theosophical Society, founded in 1890. But it was not until 1953 that the Buddhist Society was established, with architect Leonard A. Bullen as inaugural president. Meetings of the society were held to discuss Buddhism and practise meditation, first in a Swanston Street coffee bar, and later in the Henry George Club Room. From the 1970s onwards, Sri Lankan Buddhists were supporting the society, and other Buddhist organisations were appearing, many with resident monks. Tibetan organisations in particular flourished from the 1970s. After 1980, immigrants from other Buddhist countries established temples: first Vietnamese, then Cambodians, Thais, Malaysians and Buddhists from other parts of Asia. By the century's end, there were over 70 Buddhist organisations in and around Melbourne. These represented divergent traditions, but achieved notable co-operation in organising two visits to Melbourne by the Dalai Lama. The Buddhist Council of Victoria was established in 1995 and seeks to act in the interests of all groups.

Ian Mabbett