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Community Voices 2022 participants announced

The second phase of the Community Voices initiative, which aims to connect people from underrepresented communities with news media, has kicked off with a new round of participants. It is the first time the program is being run in Melbourne.

Thirteen participants from Victoria will join Community Voices, an initiative from the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas and Media Diversity Australia, this year.

Community Voices trains people from diverse backgrounds to prepare for and participate in media appearances. It also improves their understanding of how the media operates.

The aim is to connect journalists with well-prepared spokespeople and experts from diverse backgrounds who can bring fresh perspectives to public conversations.

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Twelve Sydney-based participants completed the program last year and have already made more than 100 media appearances for TV, radio, print and digital media. They are now available for media interviews.

The 2022 participants were chosen from a strong field of more than 80 applicants. Each has close ties to their communities and the group reflects a range of ethnic, religious, and socio-economic experiences, and different political and cultural outlooks.

JNI Director of Education Andrea Ho said: “The inaugural Community Voices in 2021 exceeded all JNI’s expectations. So, we are incredibly excited to bring the program to Melbourne this year.”

“Australia is one of the most multicultural places on Earth, but the faces, names, and voices we see and hear in our media don’t yet reflect our community,” Andrea Ho said.

“Community Voices gives practical and tangible benefits to media and diverse communities alike.”

MDA inaugural CEO, Mariam Veiszadeh said: “We were able to witness the incredible confidence and empowerment the program instilled in all of the participants last year and are delighted to be able to work with the Melbourne cohort this year.”

“As someone who was once in their shoes (an advocate from a minority community trying to navigate the media), I know firsthand how invaluable and potentially life changing, this program can be.”

2022 Community Voices participants

Kimberly Clemencio is president of the Filipino-Australian Student Council of Victoria and a Study Melbourne Ambassador.

Emily Fioramonte is a paralegal at Lander and Rogers and is studying law at the University of Melbourne.

Daniel Haile-Michael is an engineering coordinator for the Mount Alexander Shire Council and chair of the Tigrian Community Association.

Bakr Hawari provides youth outreach support for the Victorian Board of Imams and is studying International Studies at Deakin University.

Charmaine Hunzwi is a financial industry professional and president of the Incubate Foundation, which offers professional support and opportunities for African Australians.

Kathy Jonathan is an Australian-Kenyan public relations strategist, who helps to raise the profile of African-Australian brands.

Harpreet Singh Kandra is a lecturer at Federation University and treasurer at the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar, a Sikh temple.

Akat Mayoum is a former South Sudanese refugee, student, labourer, and a keen cricketer.

Saarah Ozeer is a director and co-founder of Bounce Refugee Youth Mentoring Program, who grew up in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Australia.

Ruchika Rawat is the founder of Community Aid Australia and a project lead at the Transport Accident Commission.

Anaab Rooble is an Australian-Somali woman living with a disability, working as a human resources and finance manager at the Victorian Disability Worker Commission.

Saima Saberi is a former refugee from Afghanistan, who works as a volunteer lawyer, interpreter and consultant supporting migrant and refugee women.

Saththiyan Satchithanantham is principal at the Bharathi Academy, a Tamil-language school, and editor of Casey Tamil Manram, which promotes Tamil language and culture.

More than media training

The year-long Community Voices program gives participants comprehensive training to become expert talent across different mediums, including radio, TV, print and digital media, as well as how to create and manage a public profile.

But Community Voices is more than just media training. It is a year-long introduction for participants into news media. They will meet key media people, including high-profile journalists, editors, and executives, visit studios and newsrooms, and have iterative hands-on experiences throughout the program.

Former news executive Jim Carroll will again be leading the Community Voices program and said this year’s participants could ensure the important stories from their communities are told.

“Engaging with media can be complex, frustrating and even a little frightening, but we want to show our 2022 Community Voices how newsrooms work and how they can get their messages across most effectively,” he said.

“After the outstanding success of our Sydney program we are expecting another fantastic outcome for our Melbourne participants with them becoming regular contributors to local and national media.”

As the program involves frequent face-to-face sessions, 2022 participants were required to live in Victoria. The program was open to Sydney residents in 2021, and JNI and Media Diversity Australia are exploring opportunities to expand the program in other states in the future.