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Supporting Community Voices

Community Voices is an initiative of the Judith Neilson Institute, in partnership with Media Diversity Australia, giving underrepresented Australians a greater voice in our national conversation. The program aims to give people from all walks of life the chance to engage with the media on issues that are affecting all Australian communities.

In November 2020, the Institute and MDA called for applications for the program. Twelve participants were announced in February 2021. The successful applicants were chosen from a strong field of more than 80 candidates. Each has a close connection with their local communities and the group reflects Australia’s ethnic, religious and socio-economic diversity and different political and cultural outlooks. As the program involves frequent face-to-face sessions, participants were required to live in NSW.

The program has returned in 2022, with thirteen participants being selected from Melbourne. You can see the full list of 2022 participants here.

Meet the 2022 participants

Thirteen participants were chosen to join Community Voices, based on their close connections with their communities and their understanding of issues affecting people throughout Australia.

Kimberly Clemencio

Kimberly Clemencio

Kimberly Clemencio

Kimberly is president of the Filipino-Australian Student Council of Victoria. She is an ambassador for City of Melbourne. She is also a contributing writer to The Philippine Times, a long-serving Australian-Filipino newspaper.

Emily Fioramonte

Emily Fioramonte

Emily Fioramonte

Emily is studying law at the University of Melbourne and is a paralegal at Lander & Rogers. She also volunteers as an ambassador for The Smith Family. Emily is passionate about education as a means to drive greater social equity and break the cycles of intergenerational poverty which she experienced growing up.

Daniel Haile-Michael

Daniel Haile-Michael

Daniel Haile-Michael

Daniel is a civil engineer who is experienced in public service infrastructure and is now establishing a consultancy. He is an active member of Victoria’s Tigrain community, working to raise awareness about the genocide in Tigray. Daniel was the lead litigant in a legal case that challenged Victoria Police’s treatment of African-Australian men.

Bakr Hawari

Bakr Hawari

Bakr Hawari

Bakr is a youth leader active on social media and mosques in the western suburbs of Melbourne. He translates and gives public speeches at community events and has provided youth outreach programs for organisations like the Board of Imams.

Charmaine Hunzwi

Charmaine Hunzwi

Charmaine Hunzwi

Charmaine is an experienced banker, community leader and a podcast host. She is President of the Incubate Foundation, which offers professional and personal support and opportunities for African Australians. Charmaine is also a board member of the Victorian Government’s Inner Metropolitan Partnership and a committee member for FINSIA's Young Professionals Network.

Catherine (Kathy) Jonathan

Catherine (Kathy) Jonathan

Catherine (Kathy) Jonathan

Catherine is the Founder of Emerging Brand Africa, a public relations agency dedicated to raising the profile of African-Australian businesses and allied partners. She is a member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Regional Advisory Council, Africa Day Australia, Kenyans in Victoria, and has been involved with various African cultural events.

Harpreet Singh Kandra

Harpreet Singh Kandra

Harpreet Singh Kandra

Harpreet is a lecturer at Federation University Australia and volunteer at the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar (Officer Sikh temple). He has served on several community committees and was Australian Citizen of the Year for Cardinia Shire Council in 2019.

Akat Mayoum

Akat Mayoum

Akat Mayoum

Akat is a former South Sudanese refugee, and is a keen advocate for social justice and creating a more just Australian society. An international relations graduate, Akat works as a housing officer for the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing Victoria. As an enthusiastic cricketer and coach, he helps young players develop their skills on and off the field.

Saarah Ozeer

Saarah Ozeer

Saarah Ozeer

Saarah is a solicitor, businesswoman and entrepreneur. Saarah is the director and co-founder of Bounce Refugee Youth Mentoring Program and advocates for social justice issues, sport inclusion and peacebuilding. She is a member of the Regional Advisory Committee with the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Communities' Council on Ethnic Issues, Lions Club International, and various Eastern Community Legal Centre projects.

Ruchika Rawat

Ruchika Rawat

Ruchika Rawat

Ruchika started her career as a physiotherapist in India before moving to Australia. She is currently a project lead at the Transport Accident Commission. Ruchika is also the founder and director of Community Aid Australia, which aims to inspire and empower diverse communities.

Anaab Rooble

Anaab Rooble

Anaab Rooble

Anaab is an Australian-Somali woman living with a disability. She has almost 20 years’ experience working in the public sector, and is a human resources and finance manager at the Victorian Disability Worker Commission. Anaab is the Founder of Migrants with Disabilities Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that highlights intersectionalities within the disability community. She is also a Board Director and Treasurer of Women with Disabilities Victoria.

Sahema Saberi

Sahema Saberi

Sahema Saberi

Sahema is a lawyer and associate at the County Court of Victoria. She has also worked as an interpreter and consultant to the Saveplus program of the Brotherhood of St Laurence for migrant and refugee women. Sahema was awarded the Young Australian of the Year for the City of Dandenong for cofounding a student organisation to assist young refugees and asylum seekers.

Saththiyan Satchithanantham

Saththiyan Satchithanantham

Saththiyan Satchithanantham

Saththiyan is an Education Manager at vocational education provider Holmesglen. He is also Campus Principal at Bharathi Academy, a Tamil language school, and a founding member of the Tamil Consortium of Victoria. He is a former president of Casey Tamil Manram, not-for-profit organisation support awareness about the Tamil language and culture.

Meet the 2021 participants

Twelve participants were chosen to join Community Voices, based on their close connections with their communities and their understanding of issues affecting people throughout Australia.

Joy Adan

Joy Adan

Joy Adan

Joy is an Filipino-Australian writer, journalist, artist and podcast host. She is an active member of her church community and hosts ‘At the Well’, a podcast for Catholic women. In 2020, she received a Creative Arts Grant from Blacktown City Council to create an art anthology based on stories from the local community.

Cultural background:
– Filipino heritage

Languages spoken:
– English

Primary topics:
– Managing mental health and dispelling the stigma of perinatal anxiety and depression, particularly in new and/or migrant parents and communities
– Cultivating diversity and inclusion at work by supporting individuals managing chronic illness, caring responsibilities or family crises (including domestic abuse)
– Women’s reproductive health, endometriosis, and the need for education about natural, non-invasive forms of managing fertility and menstrual health
– Growing up and raising a Catholic family in Western Sydney

Request Joy's contact details

Basim Al-Ansari

Basim Al-Ansari

Basim Al-Ansari

Basim is the co-founder and executive director of BF Global Solutions, a boutique consulting firm. He is a leader in the Australian Muslim community and a senior adviser to the Office of the Ayatollah for Australia. Basim has worked as a medical consultant and educator in Australia, the Middle East and UK.

Cultural background:
– Iraqi Australian
– Former refugee

Languages spoken:
– English
– Arabic
– Persian
– Dari

Primary topics:
– Diversity and inclusion policies and their implementation
– Islam and Australian Muslims especially Shia Islam
– Middle East issues and refugees
– Public health within CALD communities including mental health
– Access to service providers within CALD communities such as domestic violence, NDIS, aged care, legal, etc.

Request Basim's contact details

Sawsan Alfayadh

Sawsan Alfayadh

Sawsan Alfayadh

Sawsan is a digital campaigner for Sydney Alliance, supporting diverse people across Sydney to tell their stories through video, social and traditional media. She has worked as campaigner and organiser for a number of non-profit organisations, including the Islamic Council of Victoria and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Sawsan is a board member of Happy Brain Education, a non-profit providing tutoring and support services for young people.

Cultural background:
– Iraqi Australian
– Former refugee

Languages spoken:
– English
– Arabic

Primary topics:
– Refugee rights (particularly Middle East/North Africa)
– Impacts of conflict/crisis on women’s rights
– Gender equality/equity
– Disproportionate climate impacts on migrant communities
– Youth perspective on issues like higher education, political engagement

Request Sawsan's contact details

Jimmy Bai

Jimmy Bai

Jimmy Bai

Jimmy has worked as a lawyer, community organiser, and communications adviser, and has a background in public policy. He is a committee member of the Chinese Australian Forum and sits on the boards of St George Community Transport, based in Sydney’s south.

Cultural background:
– Chinese-Australian

Languages spoken:
– English
– Mandarin

Primary topics:
– Public policy
– Economics and the economy
– The (im)migrant experience and multiculturalism
– Education for the 21st century

Request Jimmy's contact details

Ann-Marie Boumerhe

Ann-Marie Boumerhe

Ann-Marie Boumerhe

Ann-Marie is Director of Communications in the office of the NSW Minister for Finance. She is a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW and former Regional Manager at the Law Society of NSW. She is a Director of Maronites on Mission, an outreach group supporting marginalised people in the community, both domestically and internationally. Ann-Marie has helped organise the Kicking Goals for Sick Kids 24 Hour Soccer Marathon Annual Fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead since its inception in 2012.

Cultural background:
– Lebanese Australian

Languages spoken:
– English
– Arabic

Primary topics:
– Religious freedom and discrimination
– Church and state
– Women and the law
– Public policy
– Philanthropy in CALD communities

Request Ann-Marie's contact details

Michael Camit

Michael Camit

Michael Camit

Michael is an Filipino-Australian health literacy and multicultural health communication expert, with more than 20 years’ experience in the NSW public health system. His health literacy work helps marginalised communities navigate the health system. Michael has worked on numerous award-winning campaigns including the Pink Sari Project, which increased breast screening in South Asian women in NSW. Michael has completed a PhD in Public Communication at UTS.

Cultural background:
– Filipino heritage

Languages spoken:
– English
– Filipino (Tagalog)

Primary topics:
– Health communication, social marketing, multicultural marketing and advertising interventions in CALD communities
– COVID-19 misinformation, engagement with CALD communities
– Health literacy — navigating health information and social media and CALD communities
– Mental health literacy
– Inequality and ‘meritocracy’
– The migrant experience

Request Michael's contact details

Idrissa Dumbuya

Idrissa Dumbuya

Idrissa Dumbuya

A former high school teacher, Idrissa moved to Australia from Sierra Leone in 2018. He works with the Jesuit Refugee Service and Refugee Council of Australia, sharing his refugee story with school and community groups across Sydney. Idrissa has also worked as a Community Service Worker with the Red Cross society of Sierra Leone.

Cultural background:
– Refugee from Sierra Leone

Languages spoken:
– English
– Pidgin Kriol

Primary topics:
– Refugees in Australia
– Asylum seeker questions

Request Idrissa's contact details

Daniel Gobena

Daniel Gobena

Daniel Gobena

Daniel is a manager at the Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency, where he helps to resettle new Australians from refugee backgrounds in Western Sydney. He is also working with local communities to tell their stories through podcasts. Daniel has worked as an engineer in Australia and New Zealand.

Cultural background:
– Ethiopian refugee

Languages spoken:
– English
– Amharic
– Afaan Oromo

Primary topics:
– African/Australian issues
– Refugee rights and challenges
– Religious freedom

Request Daniel's contact details

Angelica Ojinnaka

Angelica Ojinnaka

Angelica Ojinnaka

Angelica is a Nigerian-Australian youth advocate. She is a Youth Ambassador with the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW and is a Projects Officer at African Women Australia. Angelica is also a founding member of the African Australian Youth Suicide Prevention Committee and sits on several national youth mental health and policy research/advisory councils.

Cultural background:
– Australian born
– Nigerian heritage

Languages spoken:
– English

Primary topics:
– Youth mental health and wellbeing
– Child rights
– Gender equality/equity
– Diversity and inclusion (particularly on racism and disability discrimination)
– Youth perspectives on politics, leadership and issues in migrant communities

Request Angelica's contact details

Amar Singh

Amar Singh

Amar Singh

Amar is the founder and president of Turbans4Australia, a not-for-profit organisation based in Western Sydney promoting harmony, multiculturalism and understanding of Australians from different backgrounds and cultures. Amar was awarded an Order of Liverpool medal for relief work during NSW bushfires and COVID pandemic. He runs his own small transport business.

Cultural background:
– Australian Sikh
– Indian heritage

Languages spoken:
– English
– Punjabi
– Hindi
– Urdu

Primary topics:
– Australian Sikh Community comments/opinion
– Charity work
– Issues impacting migrant communities
– Migrant water safety campaigner
– General social issues
– Western Sydney

Request Amar's contact details

Jeffery Wang

Jeffery Wang

Jeffery Wang

Jeffery is the founder of the Professional Development Forum, a not-for-profit providing education and networking opportunities for diverse young professionals. He is a member of Liberal Party’s Chinese Council and works in IT. Jeffrey hosts the '10 lessons it took me 50 years to learn' podcast.

Cultural background:
– Taiwanese-Australian

Languages spoken:
– English
– Mandarin
– Hokkein

Primary topics:
– Career and professional development challenges and strategies for young professionals
– Diversity in leadership and politics
– Australia-Taiwan relations as a community leader
– Dealing with racism, advocating for multicultural harmony
– Being conservative/libertarian and Asian-Australian
– Pursuit of wisdom

Request Jeffery's contact details

Yvonne Young

Yvonne Young

Yvonne Young

Yvonne is an Chinese-Australian solicitor and insolvency practitioner who works closely with the Asian Australian business community. Yvonne is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin and able to read and write Chinese. She has worked in every state, local and federal election since 2010, including as a Polling Place Manager on several occasions.

Cultural background:
– Australian born
– Chinese heritage

Languages spoken:
– English
– Cantonese
– Mandarin

Primary topics:
– Chinese/Australian issues
– Mental Health
– Migrant businesses
– Diversity and inclusion in corporate Australia

Request Yvonne's contact details

Meet the team

The program is led by an experienced team of journalists.

Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll

Project Lead

Jim Carroll

Project Lead

Jim is one of Australia’s most experienced media executives having been the long serving Director of News and Current Affairs at both SBS and Network Ten and he also held senior roles at the Nine and Seven Networks. He has led editorial strategy and news teams for more than 30 years and travelled extensively to cover major international stories, including a period heading Seven’s European Bureau. Jim has worked across all platforms starting his career in newspapers, moving to radio and then television and digital. He left journalism for several years to work as a senior advisor to the NSW Premier. Jim is a Director of the Australian Science Media Centre and a former member of the Australia Day Council (NSW). Jim holds a degree in economics and is a graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Usha Manchanda Rodrigues

Usha Manchanda Rodrigues

Project Coordinator

Usha Manchanda Rodrigues

Project Coordinator

Usha Manchanda Rodrigues has three decades’ experience in journalism and higher education. A former journalist with a news agency, a newspaper and television, Usha commenced her career in Australia as an academic over two decades ago. She has taught a wide range of courses in multi-platform journalism and communication at four Australian universities. Usha is a leading scholar on Indian news media and contemporary journalism topics in Australia, including social media’s impact on political communication, cultural diversity in the media and reporting violence against women in the #MeToo era. Usha holds an Adjunct Professorship with Manipal Academy of Higher Education (India), and the Kopenhaver Fellow’s award with the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Centre for the Advancement of Women in Communication (USA).

Antoinette Lattouf

Antoinette Lattouf

Project Adviser

Antoinette Lattouf

Project Adviser

Antoinette is a multi-award winning journalist. She is the Director and co-Founder of Media Diversity Australia, a senior journalist at Network 10 and a member of JNI's International Advisory Council. In 2019, Antoinette was named among AFR’s 100 Women of Influence. In 2020 she was a B&T Women in Media ‘Champion of Change’ finalist. Her career spans television, radio and online in both news and current affairs. She is also an Ambassador for mental health organisation the Gidget Foundation and the Australian Thyroid Foundation.

Luke Waters

Luke Waters

Project Consultant (Melbourne)

Luke Waters

Project Consultant (Melbourne)

Luke Waters is one of Australian's most sought-after media trainers and communications advisers. Luke's distinguished journalism career has seen him report on some of the most complex, diverse and volatile events in the world. During his eight years at SBS, Luke gained a clear understanding of the complex relationships between Australia's racially diverse communities and the media. His experience and bespoke courses and advisory provide a simple and highly effective process for spokespeople to prepare and deliver effective media messages.