DIGNITY AND WORTH: IN CELEBRATION OF ANTI-POVERTY WEEK
W/ GUESTS ASHA A. AND EMILIE QUINN
Photos courtesy of Market Lane Media
In Anti-Poverty Week 2017, we took the complex issue of poverty to stage and endeavored to reframe the narrative with stories of dignity and worth. There were many vulnerabilities in hosting such an event, for fear that we would be overwhelmed by the depth and multifaceted aspects of poverty. We realized soon enough that intimidation is not a good enough reason to shy away from a problem that takes away the rights and dignity of people, like us.
Asha is a black feminist and afro vegan, who came to Australia as a refugee. Her family left Sudan during the civil war and left everything behind. Having lived in refugee camps between Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya in her childhood, Asha has not been deterred by her difficult life experiences and today, commits herself to working in a number of positions from domestic violence, to the corrections division of the Department of Justice. She also runs her own small business specializing in vegan products, Binti Essence.
Em, a talented young cyber security major, who now at the age of 17, is wise beyond her years. Em is an imaginative, creative and intelligent person who has profound perspectives and opinions on life philosophies. She volunteers in the city and currently studies cyber security. Having been homeless in her teens, Em teaches us to find home in our minds and mental state of being.
the making of motherhood
w/ guests Kayleen Scuderi, wafaa beaini and farah beaini of tck town
At this incredible event celebrating the wonderful role mothers play in our lives, we invited midwife of over 30 years experience, Kayleen Scuderi and facilitated a mother-daughter conversation with TCK Town's author Farah Beaini and her mum, Wafaa Beaini.
Kayleen Scuderi is a mother of four children and has dedicated over 30 years to midwifery. She has worked through the full scope of midwifery practice from postnatal wards, nursery, clinic and birthing suites. Kayleen showed us her commitment to empowering women and their families through their birthing experience. Her focus is to support young midwives to journey with women through the birthing and mothering experience with a calm presence that supports women in the achievement of their best birth experience possible. She also reminds us as providers of community forums that it is our responsibility to continue reinforcing safe spaces for women to feel confident exploring the topic of pregnancy.
The lovely Farah and Wafaa Beani led their own conversation where they asked questions to each other for the first time. This was a beautiful and honest discovery into their relationship and personal lives. Having moved here from Lebanon, Wafaa has sacrificed a lot for her family and is missing a closer relationship with her mother. We learned of the hardships of civil war and Wafaa's decision to bring her children to Australia. Farah, a powerful young poet and writer, has many qualities of her mother and we were blessed to witness the unfolding of their humour and idiosyncrasies with one another.
Watch highlights from the Motherhood event
mediums of Storytelling
w/ guests Morgan cataldo, Travelling Hearts and Storytelling Victoria
Mediums of Storytelling was our last event for 2016 - a wonderful way to end the year on a playful and festive note and a beautiful reminder of the multiplicity of self-expression.
The event featured guests Morgan Cataldo, Racquel from Traveling Hearts and Jackie from Storytelling Victoria. Morgan works closely with young people from diverse backgrounds and provides them with the skills and tools to become advocates and experts of their own lived experiences. Morgan herself has had a lived experience of homelessness and has transcended well beyond those boundaries to show us that we can change those stories into strength.
Racquel runs her own Traveling Hearts project - a grass-roots initiative dedicated to the exchange of stories through the visual thread of connection. Racquel uses recycled materials to create heart badges and distributes them back to the community for a small profit. During the event, we all had the pleasure of making some unique paper hearts with the exchange of lots of laughter.
The evening concluded with a playful sit back, bean-bag-type show that took all of us back to our early childhood. Jackie showed us performative storytelling through a traditional Japanese art form, Kamishibai. Pulling slide after slide, we lived through voices and illustrations of many tales including that of marriage equality between a cockroach and a mouse.
BEHIND SEXUALITIES AND CULTURES
w/guests hiba tabidi, erik ly, rancez gozon and naomi joy
We met Erik, Naomi, Rances, and Hiba, whose diversity of experience and opinion provided a fantastic platform for exploring the way sexuality is lived and understood in different cultural groups within and outside Australia.
Erik is an advocate at YGender, a not-for-profit that supports gender diverse young people. Erik was born in Vietnam and assigned female gender at birth. From a very young age, Erik felt uncomfortable as female, and now as an 18 year old identifies as a non-binary trans male. Speaking with a maturity that belied his age, Erik was expressive and considered in sharing his perspective on trans* issues, and captivated our audience with his warmth and enthusiasm.
Naomi is a human rights activist who has traveled the world focusing on women’s empowerment, LGBTQ rights and maternal health. Last year she returned from a year-long role as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Kenya, where she met her husband, Barry. Naomi discussed how her marriage has helped her gain insight into her family’s culture and that of her husband’s family, particularly in relation to the occupation of gender roles and the expectations for relationships. The affection between Naomi and Barry was tangible, and we were heartened by their joy and their optimism for their future together.
Hiba is a Sudanese Egyptian woman born in Sudan who arrived in Australia at 7 years of age. Hiba is the co-founder of Afrocare and a Cultural Intelligence consultant, and, as we discovered, a former hospitality worker, which is perhaps the best way to immerse yourself in any culture. Hiba described to our Australian-based audience the significance of bridal rituals in Sudan, and how her interaction with diverse cultures continues to shape her understanding of femininity and feminism. Hiba also recounted unfortunate incidents of racism and cultural misunderstanding, often rooted in ignorance or unmindfulness, which underlined the importance of edification to social inclusiveness.
Rances is a Filipino man working in finance who identifies as homosexual. Rances was a beautifully measured speaker, both in his enthusiasm for fashion and gastronomy, and in his exploration of how his sexuality has developed in different cultural contexts. Rances relayed his encounters with Australian masculine stereotypes, including the cliches ascribed to heterosexuality and homosexuality, and related how his confidence in his own self-expression continues to grow.
An engaging, informative and inspiring evening, Behind Sexualities and Cultures was our largest event to date, and we are grateful to Erik, Naomi, Hiba and Rances for sharing these aspects of their lives with us.
W/GUESTS amelia tauoqooqo & jan ali
Crossing Borders with Jan Ali and Amelia Tauoqooqo. Amelia is a breath of air amongst many other fabulous things - you may have seen her featured in the Project on Network Ten. Amelia was a mental health nurse for Australia's offshore detention centres. This evening, she challenged us all about what it means to be Australian and how we respond to issues of migration in our country.
Jan is a hard working landscaper residing in suburban Melbourne. He arrived here almost 4 years ago, with the vision of settling in Australia with his family. Now a successfully resettled refugee, Jan awaits his family reunification rights to bring his family here. There was no story like Jan in the room this evening - over here by boat, having no contact with his family for over a year and still in search for his sibling, we all could barely understand the injustice of this situation. It was a humbling evening for all of us.
What it means to be Australian
w/ guest pauline whyman
Pauline Whyman takes us through her story of Australia in our live conversation at &Gallery. This was a deeply complex evening with a personal account of Australian history through the eyes of creative playwright and Yorta Yorta woman, Pauline.
Pauline openly talked about her childhood as part of the stolen generation and being forcibly removed from her own family to conform to Australia's strict assimilation policies. Despite traumatic experience, Pauline shared plenty of humour and laughter, bringing light to a difficult and highly political topic. We learned about how she used to fraught the foster care system with a little cheekiness and her adventures with both foster family and her biological family.
In the context of Australia Day, Pauline taught us to look with a little more reflection into our Australian history and consider some of those lost stories that are dulled by the noise around Australia Day celebrations without acknowledgment its very first peoples.
Watch Highlights from the event
Sexuality and Agency in bdsm
w/guest Indigo Yung
Indigo is many wonderful things in one woman. She previously started her own retail fashion business and worked as a social worker for various community organisations. Since moving to Melbourne, she fell into her work now as a mistress in the BDSM industry. A dense and insightful interview, Indigo reminds us to own our sexualities and challenges what it means to be a woman of colour in gender roles.