Denisse M Vera
Mandy Hughes is a teacher and researcher at Southern Cross University, as well as Mum to two children aged 9 and 11. Mandy was born in Melbourne and then grew up in Ballina on the NSW North Coast, before relocating to Canberra to study all things cultural. Studying anthropology at ANU, Mandy developed an interest in cross-cultural understanding and communication. This led her to work in television for SBS and ABC for many years. Having a long interest in promoting social justice, particularly in the context of multiculturalism, Mandy felt that education had a huge role to play. Mandy decided to jump into teaching, secondary at first, then at university.
Documentary film making
Mandy has recently completed her PhD on the social and cultural role of food for people from the Myanmar community in Coffs Harbour. Building on this, Mandy also filmed a documentary The last refuge: food stories from Myanmar to Coffs Harbour. Mandy wanted to share the participants' stories beyond an academic audience. The film was screened around Australia as part of Colourfast for Harmony Day, as well as locally, and internationally at film festivals in Europe, North America and Central America. Her intention was for the participants to tell their own stories and to feel empowered by sharing their cultural experiences.
Mandy is currently part of a research team documenting an employment program for women from a refugee background. The program is called the 3ES to Freedom and is run by Anglicare North Coast, in collaboration with TAFE NSW and Southern Cross University. This work also includes making a film where participants share their experience of the program. It's been an amazing experience that Mandy feels privileged to have been part of, particularly getting to know the inspiring participants and program facilitators.
“Multiculturalism means enrichment. It means celebrating diversity and learning from each other to become a strong, resilient and creative society. It means promoting equity and social justice. Coffs Harbour has benefitted significantly from diverse refugee settlement in the last decade. It is exciting and wonderful, and I’m so glad to live in such an emerging community”.
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