Twelve outstanding individuals have been selected to join Community Voices, an initiative from the Judith Neilson Institute and 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 skills and confidence to engage with the media on issues affecting all Australian communities.
Participants were chosen from a strong field of more than 80 applicants. Each has a close connection with their local communities and the group reflects ethnic, religious and socio-economic diversity and different political and cultural outlooks.
JNI Director of Education Andrea Ho said Community Voices will help more people with different experiences and views to be heard in the media.
“JNI has chosen through Community Voices to invest in training and supporting Australians from a wide range of underrepresented communities, by teaching them skills to engage confidently and articulately with the news media,” she said.
“By training participants in how to be better media contributors, we give journalists access to a more diverse range of community voices, leading to stories that look and sound more like Australia as it is today.”
MDA Director and co-founder Antoinette Lattouf said the program is unique in that it will be run over 12 months, with training and education from media experts — but also practical industry experience.
“Our media has a long way to go in terms of being representative of our increasingly diverse population,” Ms Lattouf said.
“It’s not only about having more journalists of different ethnic backgrounds, but it also matters who newsrooms turn to for comment, which voices they include and elevate.”
2021 Community Voices participants
Joy Adan is an Filipino-Australian writer, artist and host of ‘At the Well’, a podcast for Catholic women.
Yvonne Young is an Chinese-Australian solicitor who works closely with the Asian Australian business community.
Jeffery Wang is the Taiwanese-Australian founder of the Professional Development Forum, a not-for-profit organisation providing education and networking opportunities for diverse young professionals, and a member of Liberal Party’s Chinese Council.
Amar Singh is the founder and president of Turbans4Australia, a not-for-profit organisation promoting harmony, multiculturalism and understanding of Australians from different backgrounds and cultures.
Daniel Gobena is an Ethiopian-Australian who helps resettle refugees in Western Sydney and works with local communities to tell their stories through podcasts.
Angelica Ojinnaka is a Nigerian-Australian youth advocate, who is helping to raise the voices of African women through outreach programs.
Idrissa Dumbuya 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.
Ann-Marie Boumerhe is a Lebanese-Australian solicitor and a member of Maronites on Mission, an outreach group supporting marginalised people in the community.
Sawsan Alfayadh is an Iraqi refugee who is now a digital campaigner for Sydney Alliance, supporting diverse people across Sydney to tell their stories through video, social and traditional media.
Jimmy Bai is communications adviser at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and is a committee member of the Chinese Australian Forum.
Basim Al-Ansari is a senior advisor to the Office of the Ayatollah for Australia and is a leader and spokesman for the Australian Muslim community.
Michael Camit is a Filipino-Australian health literacy expert based in Sydney’s south-west, who helps marginalised communities navigate the health system.
Participants to work with newsroom leaders
The year-long program will give participants comprehensive training in different mediums, including radio, TV, print and digital media.
They will learn how to pitch themselves to the media and manage the challenges that come with having a public profile.
Participants will work closely with the project leads, as well as media identities, trainers and experts from across the industry.
The program is led by an experienced team, including Jim Carroll, a former Director of News and Current Affairs at SBS, senior journalist and Director of Media Diversity Australia Antoinette Lattouf, and Ky Chow, a freelance journalist, media consultant and Professional Development Director at Media Diversity Australia.
Jim Carroll said: “This is a really impressive group of individuals who are passionate about taking the next step in representing their communities.”
“We are really excited to be working with them to build their media skills and to deepen their understanding of the way the industry works,” he said.
“Australia will only be a better place with these representatives having stronger voices in the national conversation.”
Ky Chow said: “I’m proud to be part of a program that values true diversity, not just the skin-deep.”
“That’s why we are excited to have a group that is inclusive of the cultural values, opinions and beliefs of our multicultural nation, especially those in culturally diverse communities.”
“It’s fair to say journalists often cop criticism for putting forward the same type of faces, voices and opinions, but I know what it’s like to hit deadlines when resources and time are short, and you have a limited contact book. That’s what is great about this program — we want to help underrepresented Australians become the ‘great talent’ that journalists under pressure need.”
As the program involves frequent face-to-face sessions, participants were required to live in NSW. JNI and Media Diversity Australia are exploring the possibility of running the program in other states.