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It's My Story

It's my story is a regular series of interviews by Multicultural NSW featuring outstanding members of the NSW community who make noteworthy contributions to our diverse society.

From refugees who catapulted in to professional sport stardom, a kid from Cabramatta becoming one of the stars of the first women's Australian Football League, a digerdoo playing priest from Poland, an educator breaking down barriers to education for western sydney youth and a fusion food writer.

All have a story to tell.

Shyamla Eswaran

My father arrived in Australia from Chennai (then Madras) in 1969 during The White Australia Policy. He met my mother while working as an accountant in Fiji in 1980. They…

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Yvi Henderson

I grew up in Switzerland and always loved travelling. In 1989, I had the opportunity to do a Young Farmer’s Exchange program to Australia. Every week I was on a…

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Luiza Knijnik

I was born in Brazil and lived there for part of my childhood, moving to Australia with my family in 2009 when I was six years old. We speak Portuguese…

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Grace Ho

In 1967, my parents each took lonely flights from Hong Kong to Sydney. They didn’t know each other at the time, but each carried two heavy suitcases filled with clothes…

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Omer Incekara

I was born in Istanbul, Turkey. My parents both spoke English and first immigrated to Australia when I was 11 years old. My dad had his own business and my…

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Esther Adeyinka

Esther was born in Nigeria and came to Australia in 2003. She was six years old when she migrated to Australia. It was an easy transition for her as a…

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Chamoun Bechara

Chamoun was born and grew up in Lebanon. He finished his primary and secondary education there and did a BA in Law before migrating. His parents still live in Lebanon…

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Waskam Emelda Davis

Waskam Emelda Davis is Founding Member and President/Chair of the not-for-profit community-based organisation Australian South Sea Islanders – Port Jackson. She is also the winner of the 2020 NSW Human…

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Daniel Nadebaum

Daniel Nadebaum is a passionate advocate for refugee resettlement. As part of the Walla Walla Refugee Resettlement Committee he helped welcome the first refugee family into their town. This is…

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Soryas Khero

Soryas came to Australia in 2016 and was a recipient of one of Multicultural NSW’s Interpreting Scholarships in 2019. She is now a certified interpreter. This is her story. When…

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Dr Saba Nabi

Before Saba Nabi became Doctor Saba Nabi, she grew up in Patna, Bihar, India then studied Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Management at Jamia Hamdard University in Delhi. She got married, travelled,…

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Ali AsghEr

Ali AsghEr, a Master of Research (Biomedical Sciences) student, was involved in designing a Young Humanitarians Conference last year. The Conference aimed to engage young people with refugee and migrant…

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Peter Polites

Some might say that, with a mother who worked as a librarian, Peter Polites’ future as a writer was certain. While his love of books was a constant - he…

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Dr Laura (Amara) Osweiler

Dr Laura (Amara) Osweiler is an international dance instructor, performer, choreographer, producer and scholar specialising in contemporary choreography and Middle Eastern dances. She’ll perform as part of the 10th annual…

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Martin Wilmshurst

Life Martin Wilmshurst originated in the UK but spent his childhood living abroad in Singapore. In 1956 his family moved to Nigeria, where he spent his school holidays as he…

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Oday Rashed

Oday Rashed moved with his wife and 4 children to Wagga Wagga 3 years ago. Escaping from a genocidal war in Northern Iraq they have made the Riverina city their…

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Dean Greg Jenks

The Very Reverend Dr Gregory Jenks is Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton. Before commencing his role as Dean of Grafton in 2017, Dr Jenks was Dean of St…

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Sofia Dmitrieva

Sofia Dmitrieva is a journalist with Russian News Time, a mentee at SBS and has an NITV mentorship. She harnesses her role in journalism to showcase each and every person…

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Sayed Barkat Hussainizada

Sayed Barkat Hussainizada came to Australia at age 13 and later using his own experiences as a refugee turned his journey into a short film called Sheltered. That film…

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Ella Tang

Ella Tang is a previous winner of the Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards. She won the Alan Knight Student Award category in 2018. This is his story. What got you…

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Eddie Whitham

Eddie Whitham is the Chairman of Multicultural Tamworth Inc. and winner of the 2019 Premier's Waratah Award. This is his story. The war in Indo China which dragged from the…

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Aliir Aliir

Sydney Swans AFL Player, 21 years old My earliest memory of my life in Kenya is my family and playing sport. Being with family, surrounded by family and cared for…

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Stephen Coniglio

GWS GIANTS player AFL was just a no-brainer for me growing up, but it’s like a foreign language to my family in Italy and England. Some of the responses I’ve…

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Steve Meredith

Steve Meredith, NRL Social Inclusion Programs Lead, this is his story. Sport is my passion and my dream came true when I made my professional debut for the Sydney Roosters.…

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Paolo Totaro

Foundation Chair of the Ethnic Affairs Commission The year was 1977 and Paolo Totaro received a phone call from the then Premier of New South Wales, Neville Wran, asking him…

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Dr Jioji Ravulo

1) What is your Story? Hi, my name is Jioji Ravulo, and I'm a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Western Sydney University. I was born and raised in Sydney,…

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Apajok Biar

What got me started was seeing acts of injustice and knowing that I could do something about it... Knowing that there are people who are facing atrocities and injustice and knowing I can help them have a voice and give them hope for a brighter day and better future.

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James Tran

James Tran is a Youth Speaker and Aspiring Teacher who seeks to inspire change in the world. Searching for his own identity throughout his childhood posed its own challenges but…

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Ola Tawose

Ola Tawose immigrated to Australia with his family in 2017 but has dreamed of living here for decades. He lives in regional NSW and works for a mining company as…

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April Pan

April Pan manages the employment support programs with Metro Assist. A community services organisation with 33 years of history serving the local communities in Inner West, Canterbury and Bankstown. Their…

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Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen grew up in Central Vietnam and with his family fled to Thailand in 1975. Moving to Australia in 1984 he now works at Barnados as a youth worker…

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Malini Raj

Malini Raj works as the Head of Strategy for Multicultural Community Banking at the Commonwealth Bank and has a passion for promoting cultural diversity and social cohesion. This is her…

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Bishop Laryea

Bishop Laryea is a Community Service Worker managing the Reginald Murphy Community Centre in Kings Cross. Born in Ghana, Africa, Bishop and his family moved here 24 years ago and…

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Sylvia Liu

Sylvia Liu founded the volunteer group Fusion Culture in 2011 to bring people together and bridge cultures. Her students call her Teacher Little Frog. This is her story. In 2011,…

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Ashraf Abdelbaky

Meet Ashraf Abdelbaky. An international student studying Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Newcastle. This is his story. Ashraf was born and raised in Egypt. He is as…

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Zeny Edwards

Dr Zeny Edwards is a Fellow of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation, Custodian of the State Library of NSW Foundation, and Governor of Sydney Living Museums Foundation.…

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Julie Duong

Julie Duong works for the Diversity and Disability Alliance (DDA) as a guest speaker and helps run the Peer Café. She is an advocate for self-managing the National Disability Insurance…

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Erin Olejniczak

A community project run in North St Marys provides a fortnightly opportunity for residents over the age of 50 to come together to catch up, have a cup of coffee…

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Roanna Gonsalves

Roanna Gonsalves is the 2018 winner of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Multicultural NSW category for her work, The Permanent Resident. Roanna came to Sydney as an international student from…

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Mary Liang

Mary Liang, manager of the Ron Williams Community Centre in Redfern with the City of Sydney, services a very diverse community. With majority of their members being from Chinese, and…

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Paul Franze

Paul Franze is a former NRL player who now manages the NRL’s In League in Harmony Program, supported by Multicultural NSW. This is his story. Paul grew up with a…

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Barefoot Beats

Barefoot Beats was a social inclusion dance based project supported by Penrith City Council at Colyton High School. The project featured students of Aboriginal, African and Pacific heritage, and promoted…

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Dr Jo Fildes

Dr Jo Fildes is the Head of Research and Evaluation at Mission Australia, working on the Youth Survey project, an important advocacy piece. Crucial that young people participate, they use…

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Dijana Mackic

Dijana Mackic is the Admin and Finance Manager at Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC). She started with the organisation back in 1996 at its inception as a student on work…

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Devpaal Singh

Meet Devpaal Singh, engineer, law student and youth advisory board member of Multicultural NSW. This is his story. Tell me, what got you started/motivated to make a difference? I don’t…

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Sandie Bizys

Meet Sandie Bizys, a Sydney based Marriage Celebrant. We spoke to Sandie about her role as a marriage celebrant and what multiculturalism means to her. This is Sandie’s story. I…

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Shiva Gounden

Meet Shiva Gounden, twice nominated for the Australian of the Year award in 2016 and 2017, humanitarian, self described misfit, currently working as a Multicultural Youth Coordinator for PCYC NSW,…

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Alexandra Long

Alexandra Long is the Executive Officer of the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN) NSW. A passionate social justice advocate, her experience spans the youth, settlement and education sectors both in…

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Andrew Elchah

Andrew Elchah is a teacher at Bankstown Secondary College working in the Intensive English Centre (BIEC) with mature age refugees and this is his story. He has worked at the…

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Emily Latu

Emily Latu is the Social Inclusion Officer for the National Rugby League (NRL) and this is her story. Born in Auburn, NSW Emily (known also by her Tongan name, Ofa)…

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Yash Kammoun

“People think girls can’t play sport. we certainly challenge that idea, we play AFL and we love it.” Meet Yash Kammoun, joint 2017 Harmony Award Phelan Mostyn Medal…

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Fatina Elabd

Fatina Elabd is a youth worker at Youth Off The Streets working with at risk youth here in NSW. Growing up in Villawood and with a background in Youth Casework…

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Tanith Chippendale

Life Tanith Chippendale is the youth community member for the West Sydney Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for Multicultural NSW. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts in…

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Dr Mandy Hughes

  Life 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…

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David Bitton

LIFE I am a French born and trained chef from Paris. I left a dysfunctional family life when I was 15 to become a chef. After many hard years as…

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Mahboba Rawi

  Life Mahboba Rawi was only 15 years old when she was forced to flee from her home in Afghanistan. Running away from Soviet authorities, she lived in a refugee…

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Ata-Ur Rehman

Our Common Word Ata-Ur Rehman has helped take Our Common Word (OCW) from a small group that was only interested in having Christian-Muslim dialogues to an initiative empowering communities from…

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Hameed Kherkhah

For the love of cricket In 1999, Hameed Kherkhah arrived in Australia from Afghanistan with his mother, brothers and sisters. After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in the late…

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Denisse M Vera

  Life I developed a love of clothing at a young age. As soon as my Dad taught me to sew and I learnt how to bring my sketches to…

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Fr Piotr Kruk

Fr Piotr Kruk OP is a Dominican priest supporting campus ministry at Western Sydney University in Parramatta and Campion College in Toongabbie. Based now in St Joseph’s Parish, Kingswood, he…

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Bashar Hanna

The Choir of Love The Choir of Love began in 2004 at St Therese’s Catholic Church in Fairfield Heights. In 2009, the choir changed from being a small church based…

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Mai Nguyen

GWS GIANTS player Mai Nquyen is living her dream after being successfully picked to be a member of the GWS Giants AFLW team. Her father came to Australia in the…

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Cecile Yazbek

I was born into a Lebanese family in South Africa at the height of apartheid. My father was a lawyer who entered public life. Inspired by his religious beliefs, he…

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Angelika Treichler

Retired school teacher and active volunteer from Manly, this is Angelika's story. The chance meeting of an Australian tourist travelling in my home country Germany changed the course of my…

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