Community Voices participant Ann-Marie Boumerhe is raising awareness about the work her community is doing to help people struggling during Sydney’s lockdown.
The city’s migrant and multicultural communities have faced criticism from some quarters for the way they have handled the latest COVID outbreak.
These perceptions are off the mark for many people, whose lived experience is quite different. But they rarely have access to the platforms needed to challenge inaccurate reporting.
Ann-Marie Boumerhe has been pitching stories to news organisations, to draw attention to the work her diverse community has been doing to help others.
“I feel a responsibility to show the good work of my fellow citizens, to both lift morale amongst people in my own community and to give real-life examples of the triumphs of humanity in the face of a pandemic to the wider community,” Ann-Marie said.
Ann-Marie, who is also a Director of the Maronites on Mission, was interviewed for a front-page story in The Catholic Weekly recently. The article highlighted the care and services the Maronites on Mission are giving to vulnerable people, including the homeless.
Gaining the confidence to approach media
Ann-Marie said the Community Voices program has helped her to feel confident to approach media outlets.
“Community Voices has taught me how to recognise opportunities and has given me the necessary tools, as well as a credible platform, to be a better spokeswoman for my community,” she said.
“I have learned new skills from experienced media personalities and seasoned professionals in a safe and inclusive environment.
“This has boosted my confidence to reach out to various media outlets and pitch a story, whether it be on the efforts of Maronites on Mission in continuing to feed the homeless across Sydney during COVID-19 or the impact of practicing my faith on relationships in today’s secular world.”
The Community Voices program started in February and is giving participants the skills and confidence to speak up about issues affecting their communities.
“The program is very practical and opens doors to where all the action is,” Ann-Marie said.
“I feel a strong sense of camaraderie with fellow participants, especially through the collaborative and inclusive nature of the feedback provided in the program.
“I look forward to refining my skills further and building resilience through more practical experiences, that I can use to benefit my community.”