60 seconds with Lisha Constantino-Murphy

Lisha (002)Story creator and aspiring documentary maker

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
At the moment I am enjoying the fact that I can celebrate some of my team’s achievements, particularly in community-based health promotion (at Djerriwarrh Health Services). Last weekend we celebrated the Dream Big Festival in Melton South for the third year in a row. Melton South is marked by experiences of disadvantage, and when we began working there the residents had to overcome stigma and negative perceptions associated with their community. Seeing the Melton South community showcasing their art, culture, talent and generosity was an absolute pleasure to be part of. It was a vibrant celebration of a community coming together. It has been really rewarding seeing all the relationships that have been formed, the collaborative actions which have taken place around preventing violence against women, promoting social inclusion and cohesion and the stronger sense of community that has been built through our work.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
I would love to have a happiness wand, I feel like there are so many people out there who are battling mental health issues. There is still so much stigma attached to mental health and it makes it even more difficult for people to look after themselves and, more importantly, to ask for help when they need it. My magic wand would help bring happiness to those who are struggling with their mental health, I know how disabling it can be.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I wish I could sing. Singer/song writers have so much power as they tell and share stories to last the ages.

What is your best quality or attribute?
I believe I’m a good friend. I really value friendships I think they can get us through the worst of times and make our happiest moments even richer!

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that it is largely unpredictable. Having worked in Health Promotion for close to a decade I am passionate about the power of community and have been fortunate enough to have roles where I work with communities to realise their aspirations. It has been such a beautiful ride and I never stop being blown away by the creativity, generosity and innovation that comes from community.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
I feel pretty lucky to be doing the type of working I am doing but if I had to choose a fantasy job I would love to be a documentary filmmaker travelling the world documenting people’s stories, especially the stories of women.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
I came to Australia as a child so I suppose my experiences of settlement would be very different to an adult, especially adults coming to Australia with their families. Growing up there is so much emphasis on trying to fit in and trying to belong. If I could give advice to a young person that is new to Australia I would say that although it can be hard sometimes, try and celebrate all that is unique and different about you. Everything that makes us different and unique is actually the gift we give back to the world, it helps us find our purpose, so don’t ever, ever trade it in to be just like everyone else.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
Always feeling that I have to catch up because I didn’t have the same foundation or starting point as my peers. This was probably more pronounced when I first arrived in Australia and I had to learn the language and deal with the settlement issues my parents were navigating at the time such as finding meaningful employment, social networks and support.

Can you describe a time where you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant and refugee background?
I don’t think a week goes by where my race, cultural identity or background isn’t raised. Although it is not always negative, the comments always make me aware that I’m perceived as ‘different’ and because of that I feel judged in a way.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background?
The fact that I have story, a story of survival from the journey that I have travelled with my family. I love the fact that the history of my family is only just being created in Australia and that we are in turn influencing Australia’s history.

If you could invite any woman, (dead or living) to dinner, who would it be and why?
So many! My grandmother for one, who I never met, she was a poet who died from a broken heart. Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, Amy Winehouse, Arundhati Roy, Merlinda Bobis, it would be quite a party. I have always believed amazing things come out of women being together.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
I want to talk about three women, my mum Jovita and two younger sisters, Aimee and Clarisse. They are all amazing in their own way.  My mum has never stopped fighting for as long as she has been alive. I hope she knows how much I love, respect and admire her. Mum has worked in disability service for over twenty years, a job that is tough on her body and spirit, but this has never wavered her commitment to ensuring the individuals she cares for live meaningful, dignified lives. My younger sisters are my best friends and they are both my source for inspiration and strength. They have both gone through so much, especially our youngest Clarisse and she continues to live out her life with a strength and dignity beyond her years.

60 seconds with Solmaz Yavari: Queen fan, case manager and aspiring rodeo rider

Multi Cultural Hub Portraiture

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I do enjoy advocating for people rights and
I feel fortunate that I am in the position of being able to do so.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had a magic wand, I would have used it to change the negative perceptions towards migrants, refugees and specifically asylum seekers.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I’d love to be rodeo rider!

What is the best part of your job?
As a case manager, I love it that my clients feel comfortable enough to share the personal challenges in their lives with me and that I can support them through their journey to make their decisions on what works for them best.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
I would say what one of my teachers told me while ago. He said: “If you plan to migrate to a country, you do need to know the history of your country and the country you migrating to, perfectly.

What’s your favourite word in the English language? Why?
I do not have a favourite word in English but one expression I love is “and I mean it this time”, probably because I do mean it this time!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
It has been quite challenging, in fact it has given me a lot of pain to prove what technical and professional skills I have brought to this country. I seem to have to prove myself over and over.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant/refugee background?
Being a woman from a different background has enabled me to be more thoughtful of the challenges other women from other backgrounds are facing. It helps me to understand them more and be able to build rapport more quickly with them. I understand.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
My friend Beverly, a retired primary school teacher. She was our first Australian friend in Australia who welcomed my family and I in a very sincere natural way. Bev included us as her family from the first day she met us. She is also amazing in what she has done in her personal life, a life full of giving and caring for others, and accepting others as they are regardless of their races.

What are you reading right now?
I am currently reading ‘No Man’s Land’ by David Baldacci.

Do you have a song/music that inspires and motivates you?
The song “Show Must Go On!” by Queen always makes me keep going however recently listening to the song “Despacito” inspires me a lot, specially this version by 2cellos.

What could you never be without?
Love.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Stopping the wars.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would like to tell him?
I would let him know how painful it can be to witness that families, children, single adults, fathers, mothers suffering day to day as a result of the current policy in place not being able to reunite with their families.

60 seconds with Sasha Sarago

Sasha Sarago

Editor and co-founder of Ascension magazine and proud Aboriginal woman

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Right now I am enjoying my research of Indigenous feminism and Australia’s colonial frameworks for a documentary I am producing.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had a magic wand, I would use it to help the masses realise and utilise their true potential.

What do you most value in your friends?
I value my friend’s generosity. I love my friend’s capacity to love with all their heart. I admire how they offer their knowledge freely and support my dreams. I marvel at their ability to challenge me to be the best version of myself. And I adore how they nurture my emotional and spiritual growth.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
The most important piece of advice I would impart to someone new to Australia is to protect, maintain and celebrate your culture and identity with every fibre of your being.

What’s your favourite word in any language? Why?
My favourite word is “Girgorou” which means beautiful in Jirrbal my grandmother’s language; we are the Rainforest people of Far North Queensland. I love this word because it describes my people and our language, country and culture.

If you could invite any woman, (dead or living) to dinner, who would it be and why?
It would be my grandmother. Firstly, I would love to meet her. Unfortunately, she died long before I was born. I would ask her about our Jirrbal culture and what it was like living as an Aboriginal woman in her time. I’d also ask her to share every piece of wisdom she could pass on to me for the next generation.

What are you reading right now?
Skin Deep: Settler impressions of Aboriginal women, by Dr Liz Conor.

If you could convince the world of one thing, what would it be?
We are all human beings. Nothing more, nothing less.

60 seconds with Resika KC

Resika_1

Mental health worker and global citizen

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I am enjoying working in community mental health and being able to support people in their recovery. One of the good things about my work is being able to work with people from diverse cultures and different spheres of life. I get to learn many new things everyday about my work and myself which is what I value the most in the sector.

What do you most value in your friends?
I value honesty, support, care and fun in my friendships. I like being there for friends in good and bad times and I value friends who do the same for me.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? 
To be open and learn about life and culture in Australia, to be confident and willing to share your culture and experiences, and to seek support from friends, family or an external organisation if you feel stuck or alone.

What’s your favourite word in the English language? Why?
I think “welcome” is my favourite word in English as it builds a bridges between two people and provides an opportunity to get to know each other and build a connection.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
I think the biggest challenge for me was to overcome my own assumptions, and what others in my community fed me, about having limited opportunities in Australia- just because you are an immigrant from a different country and culture. However, as I have opened myself to knowing the culture and people better, I have felt that people have accepted me as I am and have valued the knowledge and skills I bring from my background and culture.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant background?
I have challenged a lot of stereotypes in my life whether it be of gender, race or class. This has made me more confident to keep going and I don’t take any opportunities or support for granted due to this experience. I believe that who I am today is because of all the experiences I’ve had being a woman from the CALD community.

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
Multiculturalism is where different cultures, different faces, different perspectives and experiences meet at one place and flourish by learning about each other, valuing the importance of the diversity and respecting each other.

If you could convince the world of one thing, what would it be?
Though people in different parts of world have different values and perspectives, we all are equal and deserve equal opportunities and respect from each other.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would love to remove all the geographical boundaries so that people could travel everywhere freely and not be restricted by belonging to one country or another.

60 seconds with Shegofa Hazara

Shegofa Hazara

Multilinguist and education advocate

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had a magic wand, I would use it to eliminate poverty, corruption and discrimination so no one is forced to leave their country to seek asylum.

What is your best quality or attribute? 
The ability to speak six different languages has made it very easy for me to communicate with people from different backgrounds. By being able to speak those languages, especially in my role as refugee health nurse, I have been able to break down barriers and open up difficult conversations with people.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? 
That Australia is a beautiful country with vast opportunities available if we choose to take it. Make the most of the opportunities that are given to you. Especially for women from refugee and immigrant backgrounds who may never have had the opportunity to equal rights and education in their country of birth.

I love one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s quotes – ‘Give me an educated mother, I shall promise you the birth of a civilised, educated nation.’ I could not agree more. An educated mother and her attitudes in an uneducated society can change a whole generation.

This quote has always been my inspiration as it encourages me to be a better parent and person. It also encourages me to provide quality education and positive attitude to  future generations.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background? 
Being a role model to other women in the community and breaking the stereotypes.
My past experiences as a woman have taught me to be resilient and strong despite the difficulties you face. Those experiences motivated me to do better and grab the opportunities that are available to me, which were never available before.

Being the first female to finish university from my family with not much guidance is the best thing that has happened to me. 

If you could invite any woman, (dead or living) to dinner, who would it be and why? 
I would love to invite Dr Sima Samar, who is currently in Afghanistan, to dinner. She is a well-known women’s and human rights advocate, activist and a social worker within the national and internal forums in Afghanistan. She has also served as Minister of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan. She is the first Hazara female from Afghanistan who has helped build schools and hospitals all over Afghanistan. She has been the only female who helped and encouraged Afghan people to continue with their education despite the war.

She is an inspiration to me and motivates me to be a leader, a role model and an advocate for women’s rights. If she has been able to do it in a county where women have no equal rights, then I can certainly do it in a country like Australia.

What does multiculturalism mean to you? 
Multiculturalism for me is a source of strength. Diversity brings with it a vast wealth of knowledge and experiences if we choose to accept it.

60 seconds with Dr Kudzai Kanhutu

Kudzai Kanhutu

Doctor, stargazer and pop lover

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Brushing up on my tennis game and learning to stargaze with our brand new telescope.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
I would like to have the ability to speak every language on the planet both current, ancient and extinct. Every part of my day would be easier and I would use the skill to communicate and better understand all those around me. I’d also like to be able to teleport in order to get myself to places faster.

What’s your favourite word  in any language? Why?
My favourite word is “Svutugadzike” which is the Shona word for tea. I love it because it speaks not only to the physical act of drinking tea but also of contemplation, mindfulness and reflection. Beautiful…

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
Learning to comfortably assert your value and worth in an environment where there is often very little acknowledgement of women let alone women from diverse cultural backgrounds.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background? 
Once you accept that so much is possible if you commit to it and persevere it allows you so much freedom. Culturally you have very much free reign because people often don’t know how to place you so you can fairly well do and be whatever you choose to be.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
Amazing women?! I know way too many! To name just one would seem a huge injustice!

What are you reading right now?
The washing instructions tag on a pair of new boxer shorts…. Do they REALLY have to tell you not to dry clean these?

Do you have a song/ music that inspires and motivates you?
Guilty pop pleasures here….. Beyonce’s “Run The World, Girls” always gets me fired up. The original sampled track Major Lazer’s “Pon de Floor” is astonishingly good.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would you like to tell him?
Probably nothing he doesn’t already know…