Community champions

A group of mums come together for their English language class. Picture: SUPPLIED

Emily Chapman Laing

Aliya Murtezai and Fizza Zafari were crowned Casey Community Champions in 2022.

The duo received the Victorian Multicultural Commission Health Award for their work on an anti-racism project.

The project was run by Victoria University and the City of Casey.

“We had to talk about racism in our languages which was in Dari and Urdu,” Mrs Murtezai said.

“We got families involved, what they faced and then did recording in different languages.”

They brought their passion for anti-racism initatives to their women’s education class, where mothers participated in anti-racism training.

Many of the women in the session had experiences with racist behaviour that went unacknowledged in the past.

“They were saying, ‘Oh, this all happened to us but we didn’t do anything because we didn’t know what to do or who to report it to’,” said Mrs Zafari.

Empowering diverse cultures who live in the community is the chief concern of Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School.

The school believes education and celebration are the pathways to minimising racism.

Each year, different cultures present in the school are given their own day where the culture is celebrated and learned about.

“We celebrate Afghan Day, African Day, Pacifica Day, all different cultures,” Mrs Zafari said.

The student body at Cranbourne Carlisle is extremely diverse.

Seventy-seven per cent of students come from broad backgrounds, including students from Afghanistan, India, New Zealand, Samoa, Pakistan, Cook Islands, Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, Fiji and Sri Lanka.

The cultural celebration days allow parents to participate in the day and feel involved with their children’s education.

This is especially important for those facing language barriers.

“The parents come here and they make the food, they come here and they celebrate,” Mrs Zafari said.

“We do a picnic outside where they can come and the whole day is about that community.

“We do lunchtime activities, so we look into what art and craft that particular culture [is known for],” said Mrs Murtezai.

The MEAs also run lunchtime studies outside.

Mrs Murtezai says these studies allow children to learn about other cultures and develop an awareness of how to respect them.

“Everyone should know about each other.”