Harmony Day is bringing cultural diversity home this year, with a trio of videos featuring three talented local chefs cooking food from their motherlands.
‘All people who migrate to Australia bring with them some of their own cultural and religious traditions, as well as taking on many new traditions,’ said Jenny Tang, Community Development Worker at Advance Diversity Services (ADS).
‘We wanted to share these videos with a wider audience to show how honouring the traditional recipes from people’s homelands can enrich our region and nation.’
Tastes from the Homeland showcases Thai, Nepalese and Bangla cuisines with each chef giving step-by-step instructions to guide people to cook their recipes at home.
The videos were produced by ADS and launched as part of the In Good Taste festival in February run by Georges River Council. They were also initially created to celebrate International Day of the Mother Language, on February 21.
Harmony Day on March 21 is an Australian Government initiative that acknowledges the contributions of multicultural communities to Australian society and promotes inclusiveness, diversity, respect and belonging.
Ms Tang said that pre-COVID the St George region had always celebrated the day with community festivals and local events with global food, music and traditional dress. In 2020, however, COVID restrictions meant events of this kind had to be cancelled.
‘To be super safe again this year we’ve decided to bring Harmony Day home – providing our wonderful Tastes from the Homeland resource on YouTube and giving everyone the chance to participate.’
The videos feature Thanyarat Khotdet preparing two types of Thai Green papaya salad, Suraj Pradhancooking up a warming plate of Nepalese momos and Nusrat Tanjina making a tasty Bangla Hilsa fish pulao. The chefs also converse with ADS community workers to help viewers understand where their dishes come from and also revealing local sources and substitutes for traditional ingredients.
Kay (Sineenat Khantaracha), Thai Community Worker for ADS, Rishi Acharya, Nepalese Community Worker for ADS, and Tasneem Rashid, Bangladeshi Community worker for ADS have all eagerly vouched for the tastiness of the food cooked by Thanyarat, Suraj and Nusrat, and confirmed that their recipes can easily be replicated at home.
The three chefs have all been in Australia for more than 10 years and continue to cherish their home traditions. Happily, they have also embraced the customs and cuisines of other nationalities, which form such a distinct and valuable part of our multicultural society and heritage.
‘Harmony Day is really about belonging – and working together,’ said Ms Tang. ‘Leaving no one behind.
‘With such a diverse culture we can all learn a different way of doing things. I’d encourage people to view these videos as a way of doing something differently, trying new recipes, and connecting with others in the community.’
Advance Diversity Services (ADS) partnered with Georges River Council (GRC) to launch three new videos to get tastebuds tingling as part of the In Good Taste festival in February.
The videos celebrate the International Day of the Mother Language, on February 21, which aims to increase awareness of the vital role languages play in preserving cultural heritage, ensuring cultural diversity and strengthening cooperation. This is the first year that GRC is hosting this event, but intends to celebrate it every year from now on.
ADS’Tastes from the Homeland showcases Thai, Nepalese and Bangla cuisines cooked onscreen by three accomplished local community chefs. Each chef gives step-by-step instructions to guide people to cook their recipes at home.
Thanyarat Khotdet prepares two types of Thai Green papaya salad, Suraj Pradhancooks up a warming plate of Nepalese momos and Nusrat Tanjina makes a tasty Bangla Hilsa fish pulao. Their conversations with ADS community workers help viewers understand where their dishes come from and reveal local sources and substitutes for traditional ingredients.
Thanyarat has been in Australia for 16 years and is a member of ADS’s Thai Mother’s Group. She demonstrated two versions of the green papaya salad – one from central Thailand (som tum Thai) and the other from north-east Thailand (som tam poo bala) which features anchovy, crab and eggplant.
Kay (Sineenat Khantaracha), Thai Community Worker for ADS, said green papaya is very popular in south-east Asia, including Thailand. The tastes of the two salads was very different, she said. The first was sweet and sour and the second spicy and salty.
Kay also explained that ‘som’ in the recipe title means ‘sour’, and ‘sum’ means to pound the ingredients. ‘Bang, bang’ added Thanyarat as she demonstrated how to use a large wooden pestle to macerate and mix the ingredients.
‘Taste the salad before serving,’ Kay said, ‘and if it is too spicy for you, just add some more papaya.’
Suraj Pradhan has been in Australia for 10 years. He loves cooking and is an active participant in ADS’s Nepalese Reference Group. He said momos were originally from the Kathmandu Valley’s Indigenous people called Newars who traded with Tibet. The Tibetan dumplings inspired the Newars to use Nepalese spices to make their own version of the snack.
‘Food travels!’ Suraj said. ‘Momos have now spread to every corner of the world.’
Rishi Acharya, Nepalese Community Worker for ADS, said that the whole family gets involved in creating momos – first shopping and then cooking the popular snack at home.
Nusrat Tanjina is a chef and cooking is her passion. She has been in Australia for 11 years and is a member of ADS’s Bangladeshi Reference Group.
Nusrat said her dish is cooked with the traditional fish known as Hilsa (the national fish of Bangladesh) and also features Kalijira rice which only grows in Bangladesh. Mustard oil is also a special ingredient, which enhances the aroma and flavour.
Nusrat said that Hilsa fish is so soft it must be moved very gently in the pan. ‘In Bangladesh we say, “How you handle your girlfriend is how you must handle the fish!”’
Tasneem Rashid, the Bangladeshi Community worker with ADS said Nusrat’s dish offered ‘The taste from our homeland on our special day.
‘The smell is so good!’
Jenny Tang, Community Development Worker at ADS, said the Tastes from the Homeland video project was a creative way to reconnect communities in the wake of the pandemic and to honour the diversity of mother languages used by people across the region.
‘Cooking can convey love, comfort and create memories – so, you will want to replicate these recipes!’
Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, Team Leader, Emerging Communities, at ADS said the Tastes from the Homeland recipes which the cooks graciously shared from their motherlands, will appear in a cookbook for next year’s annual event.
‘I can think of no better way for ADS to have contributed to the In Good Taste festival and its goals to celebrate diversity and belonging and to foster connectedness, sustainability and inclusiveness.’
Ms Shenton-Kaleido quoted Audrey Azoulay Director-General of UNESCO, who has noted that when 40 per cent of the world’s inhabitants do not have access to education in the language they speak or understand best, it hinders their learning, as well as their access to heritage and cultural expressions.
‘This year, special attention is focused on multilingual education from early childhood so that for children, their mother tongue is always an asset.’
One hundred and fifteen people attended the Australian premiere of Goodbye Mother on February 24 – a community screening Advance Diversity Services held with Queer Screen as part of the 28th Mardi Gras Film Festival (MGFF21).
‘It was a good roll-up’ said ADS CEO Antoinette Chow. ‘And the film, which tells the tender coming out story of Van (Lanh Thanh), was a soft entry point through which to raise awareness in the CALD community about LGBTIQA+ issues.’
The subsidised screening of Goodbye Mother (directed by Trịnh Đình Lê Minh) at Event Cinema Hurstville was in Vietnamese with English subtitles. The film won the Reeling Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival 2020 Best Narrative Feature Filmand also the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2020 Audience Award.
A short version of ADS’s video Pride in My Faith, which offers candid testimony from three CALD LGBTIQA+ people of faith about how they bring their sexual diversity, faith and culture together, was shown prior to the feature.
Antoinette Chow and Cheryl Kavanagh Co-Chair of Queer Screen also spoke on the night –emphasising the benefits and success of the ADS-Queer Screen partnership.
‘We’re proud to have partnered with Queer Screen to encourage people in our communities to connect with narratives that will support them if they’re coming out and enhance their understanding if they’re unsure about the issues faced by LGBTIQ+ people,’ Ms Chow said.
‘What the film shows us, and what we know further from research, is that coming out can be painful, traumatic and even life threatening.
‘Our goal, therefore, must always be to bring the kind of change that creates more inclusive and supportive CALD families and communities and ensures people can express themselves freely and authentically without fear of rejection, hostility or persecution.’
The COVID pandemic has prompted a marked increase in the number of women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities seeking specialist Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) case management in the St George region.
This shift has highlighted the need to educate people in the CALD community that:
DFV includes any behaviour, in an intimate or family relationship, which is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling, causing a person to live in fear and to be made to do things against their will. This includes stalking, intimidation, unwanted sex or sexual acts and emotional abuse, and breaking ADVOs – Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (sometimes called AVOs or restraining orders).
Men can also be victims of DFV.
While many instances of DFV go unreported, there are safe supports for people encountering DFV who do step forward to report it.
Advance Diversity Services has been working with local DFV service providers to help ensure they are equipped to respond to disclosures of DFV from people from CALD backgrounds in ways that are both culturally sensitive and ensure people’s safety.
Grants from Women NSW (in partnership with Moving Forward) and from the Australian Chinese Charity Foundation Inc (ACCF) and a partnership with Moving Forward, the St George and Sutherland Domestic Violence Service, St George Police and Settlement Service International (SSI) have assisted this work.
‘COVID has been a perfect storm for victims of DFV,’ says Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, ADS Team Leader, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services. ‘Many victims are spending more time with the perpetrator of violence – either because they are working at home or have lost their employment, which results in more opportunities for abuse.
‘We’re working with specialist DFV services to ensure victims from CALD backgrounds who do come forward are equipped with the information they need to understand their rights, make informed decisions, and secure the best and safest support for themselves and their children.’
Ms Shenton-Kaleido said there are many reasons victims from CALD backgrounds may not seek support and especially during COVID times.
These can include:
The sense that there is reduced accessibility of support services due to social distancing.
Increased situational stressors which make it harder for them to reach out.
Fears that taking action could jeopardize residency (temporary visas). For example, a fear that they will be ‘sent back home’ and any children of the union will be forced to remain with the abuser.
Limited English and not wishing to use professional interpreters or not having them available.
Cultural, religious factors.
Fears of family and community reprisals.
Limited understanding of the rights, protections and legal processes in Australia.
ADS’ role includes:
Providing information and referrals to DFV service providers and counselling services.
Promoting positive family relationships through workshops and other media (view the We’re Better Than That video on Youtube at bit.ly/mio-2020)
Offering orientation activities for communities to understand and access mainstream Australian services, including legal and other outreach services.
Ms Shenton-Kaleido said: ‘Warm referrals between ADS’ frontline bicultural workers and specialist DFV service providers definitely helps clients feel supported and provides a sense of cultural safety and continuity. It also builds trust with the specialist services quickly for timely and appropriate responses. It’s a great collaboration model!’
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing DFV, you can get help on the NSW Domestic Violence website or by contacting ADS on T: 02 9597 5455 or E: email@example.com
If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000
For 24/7 support, information and counselling call:
NSW Domestic Violence line on 1800 65 64 63
Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
ADS is proud to be an inclusive service and this partnership with Queer Screen, as part of MGFF, continues its work to inform culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people about LGBTIQA+ individuals and communities.
‘Goodbye Mother (directed by Trịnh Đình Lê Minh) is a universal tale everyone can connect with,’ says ADS Executive Officer Antoinette Chow. ‘The visual nature of film also makes it a great medium through which to raise awareness in the community – and particularly CALD audiences – about LGBTIQA+ community issues.
‘We also felt it was important to bring the film to the St George area of Sydney so that it would be accessible to the local population we work with.’
Goodbye Mother traces the story of Van (Lanh Thanh) who is the prodigal son who returns from the United States to Vietnam with plans to introduce his boyfriend, Ian (Võ Điền Gia Huy), to his mother (Hong Dao). When he learns his mother is ill, he is faced with the dilemma of how to honour his family responsibility but also to freely lead the life he has chosen with integrity.
The film won the Reeling Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival 2020 Best Narrative Feature Filmand also the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2020 Audience Award. It is in Vietnamese with English subtitles.
Before the Hurstville screening of Goodbye Mother, there will also be a short talk by a representative from ACON’s Asian Gay Men youth project, which helps younger gay men from Asian cultural backgrounds take control of their health by providing a range of programs, workshops, resources and events.
The $10 tickets are only available at the Hurstville screening and you can book them here.
MGFF21 is also inviting people to create their own LGBTIQ+ film festival experience. In Sydney, along with more than 60 cinema screenings on offer, the MGFF is offering online and on-demand screenings across Australia for the first time. To in-cinema and in-home viewers MGFF21 is providing the best LGBTIQ+ cinema from around the world.
“Goodbye Mother is just one of many great options for people to view during MGFF21,” says Ms Chow. “We’ve partnered with Queer Screen to encourage people in our communities to connect with narratives that will support them if they’re coming out and enhance their understanding if they’re unsure about the issues faced by LGBTIQ+ people.’
Updates to a free parenting app facilitated by Advance Diversity Services (ADS) and the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) Child, Youth & Family Services are ensuring the Love Talk Sing Read Play (LTSRP) appis a ‘go-to’ reliable and practical source for parenting information rather than turning to Google.
Consultations with emerging communities in 2019 & 2020 saw 13 new key messages incorporated into the LTSRP app and translated into four community languages – Nepali, Bangla, Arabic and Simplified Chinese.
“The new messages support parents with age-appropriate feeding, screen time and child development tips, as well as where and how to access services. Parents receive notification reminders in their language about all the health checks and when they are due,” said Helen Rogers, SESLHD Early Parenting Program Coordinator.
“Parents can also add photos of their children to create a memory book – a great feature,” said Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, Team Leader, Emerging Communities, at ADS.
SESLHD Multicultural Health granted funding for the collaborative project Nepali and Bangladeshi Early Parenting Key Health Messages Project (0-5) in 2019.
Community consultations, facilitated in 2019 by SESLHD cross-cultural community workers Rubina Huq and Bandana Karki, and ADS community workers Tasneem Rashid and Rishi Acharya, gleaned input from 63 Nepali and Bangladeshi parents, grandparents and carers to inform the co-design of culturally appropriate resources.
The consultations found key areas of concern for communities related to feeding practices, social participation, bilingualism, active play, screen time and sleeping.
A Consumer Reference Group with 10 members from Bangladeshi and Nepali communities was set up to discuss findings and next steps for the co-design of resources and community education sessions. It was agreed that rather than reinventing the wheel, the findings would be incorporated into the already existing and well-respected LTSRP parenting app.
The LTSRP app now has 13 new key messages that relate to sleep time/sleep routine; supporting learning and development (using one’s own language and English); meal time to connect, share family food and support learning; and tummy talking to brain (in response to assertive feeding practices).
ADS also co-facilitated four (two Nepali and two Bangladeshi) community education sessions at the Kogarah Storehousewith SESLHD staff, Jo Power, Suanne Hall, Voula Stathakis and Maree McGlinchey.
The two sessions covered:
First 2000 Days and child development facilitated by Child Health and Family Health nurses Jo Power and Suanne Hall (24 participants).
Active Play facilitated by St George speech therapist Voula Stathakis and occupational therapist Maree McGlinchey (24 participants).
ADS is promoting the LSTRP app with the new key parenting messages via parents and grandparents groups and social media. SESLHD cross-cultural workers Rubina HUQ and Galuh SAPTHARI are also promoting the app via antenatal and early parenting groups, and individual client conversations.
“Feedback from Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Arabic and Chinese backgrounds so far highlights the value of the free app for parents,” said Ms Shenton-Kaleido.
“It contains age-appropriate information for every family to help their children learn and develop.
“Parents and grandparents should download the Love Talk Sing Read Play App app through the App Store or Google. It’s so good – and so easy.’