Shammi Parekh is the community and program advisor at the Multicultural Resources Hub Inc in Sunbury. She spoke to Jessica Micallef.
What is your connection to the Sunbury and/or Macedon Ranges area?
I have been living in Sunbury for the past 18 years and in the Hume area for the last 32 years.
What are you passionate about?
Supporting and guiding communities and organisations to achieve great outcomes for their community. There is a lot of information and support out there for new and existing migrants that is not being accessed due to lack of understanding of services, language barriers and different cultural beliefs.
Tell me about the Multicultural Resources Hub Inc – what’s your position and what does the group do?
Multicultural Resources Hub Inc is a not-for-profit community benefit organisation that helps bring communities together by connecting migrants to established communities who call Australia home today. Our friendly team helps connect people to information, cultural orientation, support groups, activities and events within the community. We aim to deliver health information programs, workshops to suit people with language barriers, different cultural beliefs through activities to improve social and inclusive communities. We encourage individuals from all age groups to take part in programs, fundraising and volunteering. My Position : Community/program advisor
How have things changed for the group during COVID-19?
The organisation had to find other means to reach out to the wider community, offering support, correct information regarding restrictions and making sure all information and support was available in their language. Working alongside DHSS, Victorian Multicultural Commission and Hume council to provide information and support. Due to COVID-19, we are able to present Let’s chat – it’s a platform where we can exchange real life encounters, questions, brainstorm solutions and create awareness within the community. We have group sessions online, with people who know what you are going through and professional advice to appropriate referral providers within our community.
What are you looking forward to doing now that COVID-19 restrictions are being eased?
We are working on delivering a dance program through Zoom, if restrictions start to ease hopefully we can do this in a hall. We want to encourage people to join free classes to stay active and feel connected by engaging with the community through dancing and learning the new way to connect to programs. Dancing in a safe environment to stay active and in the fitness level they are comfortable in. Dance has been shown to have a positive impact on the mental health of individuals regardless of their age. Cultural dance connects people together. We aim to provide greater social experience, learn innovative choreography, and give learners more opportunities to perform at events and festivals. The class provides a fun way to understand, develop and learn a new skill in a safe and comfortable environment.
If you could change one thing about the area, what would it be?
I would like to see greater participation of various ethnic communities in multicultural events to build faith and trust in one another for the progress and greater good of all communities as a family. This will open many doors for all Australians to live in harmony. I believe with the fast growth of development in Sunbury and surrounding areas it is very important for families to feel connected with the multicultural community we live in. There is much more work that needs to be done to engage the wider community who are building their future in Sunbury.