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Living Spirit - Muslim Women's Project 2006: Appendices 5 - 15

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‘Living Spirit’: Muslim Women and Human
Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Biographies of Speakers and Facilitators

Tasneem Chopra is the current Chair of the Islamic Women’s
Welfare Council of Victoria. She has been involved with this organisation since
its inception over 13 years ago, and has a background in psychology, with over a
decade of experience in community development. Tasneem currently works
independently as a Cross Cultural Trainer and Consultant specialising in
information sessions on ‘Understanding Islam and Muslims in
Australia’ with a particular interest in promoting issues of social
justice impacting on Muslim women. In addition to this she has been a
contributor to the national journal, Australian Islamic Review.

Farah Farouque is the Social Affairs Editor at The Age, where
she has a wide-ranging brief to cover social issues ranging from poverty and
homelessness to ethnic affairs, demographic change and social trends. She has
reported on the Bali bombings of 2002 and the tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka in
2004–05. She has also reported on Victorian and federal politics including
three years in the Press Gallery in Canberra. In 2001, she was awarded an
Asialink/Melbourne University fellowship which involved a three-month work
exchange at Tempo news magazine in Jakarta. Farah is also a previous
winner of the Australian-Arabic Council's national media award.
On a
personal note, she is a rare species in the mainstream media – a Muslim.
Her family migrated to Adelaide – where she went to school and university
– in the mid 70s from Sri Lanka.

Laila El-Assaad is an Education Officer for the Muslim Women’s
Association of SA. She coordinates and delivers a cross-cultural consultancy
service for schools community groups and service providers on Islam and Muslims.
She is also a high school teacher and has fifteen years experience of working
with South Australia’s Arabic and Muslim communities. She participates on
various committees including the Multicultural Education Committee (which
advises the South Australian Minister of Education on multicultural education)
along with the Multicultural SA’s Women’s Advisory Committee.

Dakhylina Madkhul is a Project Coordinator for the Goodness &
Kindness Partnership – an interfaith harmony workshop program for primary
schools.  She is also a Student Welfare Coordinator and Counsellor at a
Muslim school in Springvale and is currently completing her Psychology
qualifications.  She has been involved with community work for at least ten
years and has a passion for working with young people. Dakhylina is a panel
member of Channel 31's Salam Cafe TV show and volunteers for a weekly
Malay program on community radio and the National Security Files about
Muslim current affairs on 3CR community radio. Other interests include soccer,
traditional martial arts and organising huge Ladies' Dances.

Hatice ‘Hutch’ Hussein defines herself as a
‘cultural Muslim’, who combines her Turkish-Cypriot heritage with
Muslim traditions. She is currently the Business Development Manager at the
Northern Migrant Resource Centre in Melbourne’s northern suburbs which,
via its settlement, aged care, family relationship, youth and employment
services programs, aims to assist generations of migrants and refugees reach
their full potential. Hutch has also worked as a Ministerial Adviser in the
Education and Women’s Affairs portfolios. In her ‘spare time’,
Hutch volunteers her time to a range of organisations which aim to empower women
to make a difference in public life. 

Voula Messimeri has been involved in the community services field for
over 20 years and has a particular interest in multicultural affairs and women's
issues. She was appointed the position of Executive Director of the Australian
Greek Welfare Society in 1989 and elected Chair of the Federation of Ethnic
Community Councils of Australia in 2006. She is the first woman to hold the

Helen Szoke is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Conciliator of
the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria. Previously, Helen was the Chief
Executive Officer of the Infertility Treatment Authority in Melbourne,
Victoria,.Helen is currently a member of the National Health and Medical
Research Licensing Committee and the Board of Adult Migrant Education Services,
and is past Chairperson of Women’s Health Victoria. She has served as a
committee member and Chairperson of the Ethics Committee of the Royal Women's
Hospital, a member of the Victorian Family Therapy Association Ethics Committee,
a member of the School Council of Melbourne High School, an executive member of
the Victorian Council of Social Services and an inaugural executive member of
the Consumers Health Forum of Australia. She also served one term as a city
councillor in the Preston City Council.  

Joumana El-Matrah is truly of Middle Eastern descent with an ancestry
that includes Turkish, Egyptian and Syrian. She was born in Lebanon and migrated
with her family to Australia in 1976 because of the civil war in Lebanon.
Joumana became a staff member of the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of
Victoria in 2000, and since that period the Council’s work has grown
significantly. In 2002, she was invited by Rutgers University Centre for
Women’s Leadership in New York to attend an annual international training
conference on ‘Women’s Rights; Understanding the Intersections of
Racism, Sexism and other Oppressions’. She has also been awarded a
Churchill Grant to investigate international models of working with Muslim

Joy Murphy is an Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri people. Joy has
involved with Aboriginal issues for 30 years and is Chairperson of the
Indigenous Consultative Assembly. She has held executive positions
across many sectors of Government. Joy is an honorary Professor of Swinburne
University, a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria, a member of the
Victoria Police Ethical Standards Consultative Committee and a member of the
Equal Opportunity Commission. She also operates her own business, Jarlo

Doug Weller has been a consulting media trainer since 1996 and is
Director of Corporate Media Services Pty Ltd which he established in 2004. Doug
has 30 years experience in journalism, including 13 years with the ABC in
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Washington D.C. Doug has also lectured
in Journalism at RMIT University, worked as a political adviser, developed media
strategies and executed issues and crisis management programs for a range of
companies and organisations.

Ms Maria Vamvakinou MP is the Federal
Member for Calwell (Vic.). She was elected to the House of Representatives in
2001 and 2004. Maria was born in Lefkada, Greece in 1959. Before entering
politics she was a high school teacher from 1982–87. During her
parliamentary career she has been a member of the House of Representatives
Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations and the Joint Statutory
Committee on Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings. She is currently a
member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Native Title and the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Land Fund and the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign
Affairs, Defence and Trade. Maria has been a member of various parliamentary
delegations including the Parliamentary Delegation to Canada and Chile from
March–April 2003. She holds various policy and branch positions within the

Moona Hammoud was born in Australia. Moona started working at the
Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria in March 2003 while working
towards her Bachelor of Social Science (Youth Work) Degree. At the Council,
Moona works as part of the Diversity, Choices & Communications Program
project, which aims to empower young Muslim women with the information, support
and communication skills they need for their successful settlement in Australia.
She has also worked as part of the Recreation Project at the Council and has
successfully organised two Soccer Skills workshops for young Muslim women in
metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria.

Sultan Cinar migrated from Turkey to Australia 26 years ago. She has
studied Social Science at RMIT and Health Science at La Trobe University. Sultan
has been working in the public welfare sector for the last 20 years. She has
worked with Community Health Centres, Neighbourhood Houses, Skill Share,
Anti-Cancer Council, local councils and hospitals. Her main work components are
community development, community education programs, case work and
Sultan joined the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of
Victoria in 2003 as a Team Leader and Citizenship/Anti Violence worker.

Nurcihan Ozturk immigrated from Turkey in 1969 with her family and was
one of the original founding members of the Victorian Immigrant & Refugee
Women’s Coalition in 1997. She was the Assistant Secretary of the
Victorian Branch of the Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia and
Junior Vice President of that union nationally. She was also the first
Chairwoman of the Textile Workers Asian & Pacific Regional Organisation
Women’s Committee. Nurcihan was selected for the First Women’s
Honour Roll by the Victorian Government in celebration of Australia’s
Centenary of Federation in 2001. She is a member of the Thomastown Turkish
Women’s Recreational Group and is the current Executive Officer of the
VIRWC. Nurcihan works tirelessly and with passion on issues affecting the CALD
communities and in particular issues affecting women.

Margaret Donaldson is the Director of the Race Discrimination Unit of
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Prior to that she was the
Director of the Native Title Unit, where she was responsible for the annual
publication of the Commission’s Native Title Report. Prior to joining the
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Margaret practiced as a
solicitor, specialising in government law, administrative law and commercial

Dalal Samaan is of Assyrian-Lebanese background. She immigrated to
Australia in 2000 from Lebanon. She has qualifications in Computer Mathematics,
and Quality Management and Assurance. She has extensive experience in corporate
and service organisations including World Vision International. She has also had
extensive community involvement. Currently Ms Samaan is the Deputy Chair of the
Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women's Coalition, the Deputy Chairperson of the
Beth-Nahrin Assyrian Cultural Club as well as the Convener of the
Assyrian-Chaldean Women's Network. She is a committee member of Northern
Enterprising Women, an organisation which supports women from CALD backgrounds
to establish their own small businesses. Currently Ms Samaan works with the
Whittlesea Community Legal Service as a Coordinator of Service Administration
and Volunteers. Ms Samaan is very passionate about the issues affecting the
newly emerging communities and issues affecting immigrant women in

Nadia Mohamed is a qualified and experienced Youth worker, and has
interests in community development, especially from a youth perspective.
Currently she works for the Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues, Australian
Multicultural Foundation and PRACE.

APPENDIX 6 Photos from the forum

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5



Living Spirit’: Muslim Women and
Human Rights Forum


The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet 1

How can you practically apply and promote human
rights in your life?

Join in activities that promote human rights and community

Hold a fundraiser to give money to people who need basic

Host a community forum – educate people about others and
celebrate differences

Bring young people from various backgrounds together to

Make sure you publicise your event to attract lots of
interested people

If you experience discrimination tell someone about it.
Don’t keep quiet

Use the media:

  • to educate
  • to build up harmony
  • to support the initiatives of others

Use schools:

  • to educate
  • for political empowerment

Use art:

  • music
  • festivals
  • exhibitions
  • conferences

Share legal education about citizenship rights and

Find out about available services, such as Migrant Resource
Centres and Legal Aid

Increase knowledge abut Islam and other communities

Find out about how diverse your local community is; meet your
neighbour and hear their stories

Create good communication between key political figures and
grass-roots level organisations

Generate more opportunities for young (women) Muslims in

Invite religious/spiritual leaders to participate in community

For more ideas check out:


‘Living Spirit’:
Muslim Women and Human Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet 2

How can parents and their children help empower each
other, help each other cope with discrimination and help bridge the generation

Learn about each other

Lead by example

Bridge the gaps, such as the use of technology

Share activities and common experiences

Develop skills together

Effectively communicate with each other

Meet in groups

Give and receive love


‘Living Spirit’:
Muslim Women and Human Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet

Where to go for help if you have
experienced discrimination, vilification or abuse.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria

Other complaints bodies such as healthcare complaints bodies
and patient representatives

Community legal centres

Community groups

Women’s centres

Member of Parliament

Church groups





‘Living Spirit’: Muslim
Women and Human Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet 4

Good reasons to report an incident of
discrimination, vilification or abuse and/or lodge a complaint.

To get personal satisfaction

To get a meaningful outcome such as an apology

To get monetary compensation for loss, for example if you lost
your job as a result

To change policies and practices in the
workplace/business/service, so that the discrimination does not happen again

To change things for the better for other people, who may also
be the victims of discrimination and abuse if no action is taken

To get the perpetrator to front up to the problem

To get justice

To inform organisations such as the Commission, EOCV, police and others
to understand a pattern of behaviour and inform programs and services to
eliminate discrimination and abuse


‘Living Spirit’: Muslim
Women and Human Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet 5

How can you empower yourself and others to combat
stereotypes and discrimination – from a youth perspective?

Defend yourself

Stand up for the victim

Tell someone about it – police, teacher or parent

Ask perpetrator how they would feel

Explain that bullying shows weaknesses, not strengths and that
it is not cool

Use a joke

Tell the perpetrator that it’s wrong

Tell the perpetrator that they don’t really understand
you or your culture

Stand up for your religion

Learn what your rights are

Complain to the police/authorities

Challenge unacceptable behaviour in public

For more ideas check out:


‘Living Spirit’: Muslim
Women and Human Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet 6

Strategies to combat stereotypes and

Encourage Muslims to be active and visible in supporting
people/causes/issues not related to Islam:

  • working bee at school
  • lollypop lady
  • discuss recipes on talkback radio

Media has to change how they portray Muslims

Bring in people of different cultural backgrounds (e.g. woman
in hijab) to say the news/weather on mainstream television or be a Playschool presenter

Need to make an impact at a policy level including:

  • education for both Muslims and non-Muslims
  • education for both men and women
  • education for the broader community

Governmental responsibility and accountability

Workshop ideas to be discussed in schools and broader

Teaching about different religions:

  • in schools
  • to childcare workers
  • to pre-school workers.

Non-Muslim community leaders defending basic social
justice issues and championing inclusiveness and diversity

Linking discrimination against Muslims to wider discrimination
against all people

Interfaith dialogue between religious

Government to use a more inclusive model for
‘Australian values’

Create connections with women who have been successful in the
workplace or community

For more ideas check out the IsmaProject:


‘Living Spirit’: Muslim
Women and Human Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet

How can you engage in the media

Establish the points you want to raise BEFORE the interview
(at least three main points)

Have a plan or ‘follow a map’ when dealing with

Don’t let journalists ‘lead’ the

Be confident in the topic you are to interviewed about

Present yourself calmly and try not to get emotional or

Don’t get sidetracked

Admit if you don’t know or are unsure of the answer.
Don’t feel compelled to ‘create’ a response

De-mystify stereotypes and the ‘fear’ behind those

Ensure media is made accountable and take legal action if



‘Living Spirit’: Muslim
Women and Human Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet

What are some of the measures you can
take in the workplace to avoid or combat discrimination?

Provide strong leadership

Training for senior management

Cross-cultural training:

  • cross-culture/religious/linguistic
  • awareness of employees in relation to each other
  • ongoing evaluation of impact and changes as a result of
  • training management to be empathetic not sympathetic

Talk about difference

Make diversity an ongoing agenda item in meetings:

  • diversity in employment
  • set up committees drawing on people interested in specific issues
    e.g. well-being
  • create committees of joint staff and management
  • generate consultation about workplace practices

Flexibility around employment arrangements;

  • childcare
  • special needs of women
  • obligatory needs

Awareness of legal rights and responsibilities

Even-handedness – ensure everyone is treated fairly and

Provide allowances for religious observances:

  • prayer – to be respected by other employees
  • workplace to be aware of different calendars/ celebrations
  • acknowledge and celebrate different cultural/religious

Peer support and supervision:

  • opportunity to reflect/raise issues

Policy development:

  • anti-bullying; anti-racial and -religious vilifications
  • accessible complaints process
  • establish a grievance handling mechanism that is culturally

Regular review of policy procedures

Understand the rights of Muslim women:

  • include in work policies
  • legal and industrial rights
  • available to all
  • act on policy

For more ideas check out information about
the Commission’s Good Practice, Good Business Resources at:


‘Living Spirit’: Muslim Women and Human
Rights Forum

The Right to Participate in Social

Action Sheet 9

What are the skills needed for support services to
help Muslim women cope in crisis situations including racial and/or religious
discrimination and abuse?

Bi-lingual workers or readily available translators

Convey information in relevant languages

Culturally sensitive and religious knowledge and

Buddy/mentor system to support person facing crisis and make
connections with other women who have experienced discrimination

Employ more Muslim women representatives on committees,
especially in mainstream organisations

Willingness to support women through complaints process and
explain the systems in a time that suits the women

Forming partnerships between culturally aware organisations
and mainstream organisations

Support for women and their children

Point of entry of complainant will vary – agencies needs
to be responsive

Use technology to support/break down geographic boundaries,
such as using international networks

Simplify process – not too much paperwork

Support services to be:

  • articulate
  • politically savvy
  • confident in speaking out
  • objective
  • well resourced

Understand and respect of Islam and its practical

A willingness to be myth breakers

Appreciate differences as positives

Encourage women to speak up

Ensure that perpetrators receive restorative justice such as
community work in a Muslim community