'We Bleed The Same' is about you, me, and humanity; an anti-racism exhibition and documentary, supported by the Freilich Project at the Australian National University. The aim of the exhibition is to combat racism and celebrate diversity. 36 inspiring people who champion human rights share their extraordinary stories.
Liz Deep-Jones created the We Bleed The Same photographic exhibition and documentary to take a stand on racism and create impactful change through arts activism. She's driven to make positive change, having experienced racism throughout her life and seeing her proud Lebanese migrant parents subjected to daily racist taunts. She is the In
Liz Deep-Jones created the We Bleed The Same photographic exhibition and documentary to take a stand on racism and create impactful change through arts activism. She's driven to make positive change, having experienced racism throughout her life and seeing her proud Lebanese migrant parents subjected to daily racist taunts. She is the Inaugural Freilich Arts / Media and Activism Fellow at the Australian National University, journalist, producer, television presenter, published author, public speaker, content creator, art curator, filmmaker, and human rights advocate. Liz spent over 25 years in the media, mostly reporting and presenting for SBS TV and it's Indigenous network-NITV. She’s interviewed some of the most famous people in the world including the late – Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, the late Charles Perkins, Cathy Freeman, Ian Thorpe and Geoffrey Robertson QC. Liz and the We Bleed The Same team are currently travelling the exhibition across Australia.
Tim Bauer is driven to create a more inclusive society through his photography and filming. He photographed the portraits of all of the extraordinary Australians who shared their stories in the We Bleed The Same exhibition in his studio in Sydney. "I am grateful to my refugee European Father and Australian Mother who taught us to love and
Tim Bauer is driven to create a more inclusive society through his photography and filming. He photographed the portraits of all of the extraordinary Australians who shared their stories in the We Bleed The Same exhibition in his studio in Sydney. "I am grateful to my refugee European Father and Australian Mother who taught us to love and respect all human beings.
My parents both worked for the Red Cross in Europe between 1948 -1950 rehoming refugees across the world.
Their experiences and actions have had a profound effect upon me throughout my life."
Over the past 40 years, Tim has photographed some of the most famous people on the planet including, Andy Warhol, Audrey Hepburn, 8 Prime Minister’s, Jerry Hall, Bill Gates, Ben Quilty and many other famous and infamous people.
Brenda Dwyer is the We Bleed The Same contemporary graphic designer and Art Director.
Her unconventional and experimental visual style was predominantly influenced at an early age by the teachings of Josef and Anni Albers, Black Mountain College and Bauhaus and later, as she restored her career, David Carson and Emigre.
Brenda was born
Brenda Dwyer is the We Bleed The Same contemporary graphic designer and Art Director.
Her unconventional and experimental visual style was predominantly influenced at an early age by the teachings of Josef and Anni Albers, Black Mountain College and Bauhaus and later, as she restored her career, David Carson and Emigre.
Brenda was born in Ireland and studied Creative Arts, Design & Media at TU Dublin | Technological University Dublin (formally Dublin Institute of Technology). She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and attended many conferences and seminars that exposed her to working art directors and graphic designers. Subsequently, when she immigrated to Australia, Brenda completed a Master's Degree in Design at UTS, University of Technology Sydney. Brenda worked for various companies in Sydney as both a creative director and an art director. She accepted part-time lecturing positions and evening lectures within private colleges dedicated to graphic design in Sydney.
Izabella Deep-Jones is the We Bleed The Same Production Manager, creative and tech support. The 21 year old university student is passionate about stamping out racism, growing up in a multicultural family that includes an Irish Father and Mother of Lebanese heritage. The extended family includes first cousins born in Australia who stem f
Izabella Deep-Jones is the We Bleed The Same Production Manager, creative and tech support. The 21 year old university student is passionate about stamping out racism, growing up in a multicultural family that includes an Irish Father and Mother of Lebanese heritage. The extended family includes first cousins born in Australia who stem from various backgrounds including; Ghana, Chile, Hong Kong and Greece.
Currently, Izabella is studying Law and Psychology in Sydney and working on the We Bleed The Same exhibition and programs as we travel the show across Australia.
“Where’s the justice? They killed my son, David Dungay Jr. He was eating a packet of biscuits and five guards stormed into his cell and ten minutes later my son was dead. No one’s been held accountable. Still no answers because it’s a racist system. Our people are still being slaughtered! I will not stop speaking out until I get justice.”
Dunghutti elder, Leetona Dungay was born 13th March 1960 in Kempsey, the Dunghutti nation in NSW. “In my day, I was going to school and aiming for my goals. I played a lot of sports so did all my children. Then I was thinking how come they always put us in the corner at school. So they put all the Aboriginal people in AO class , dunce class it’s called. I just want equality but there’s no equality because of the colour of my skin.”
Leetona had her youngest son of four, David Dungay Jr., in Kempsey at Old Burnt Bridge Reserve. “He was a proud Dunghutti warrior who loved sports, especially rugby league and was happy-go lucky, kind and loving. He was always there for his siblings when they needed him. He served his time and was ready to come home but never had the chance. The pain of losing him never goes away.” Leetona has been thrust into the spotlight, becoming a prominent activist for First Nations people, after losing her 26-year-old son, David, on December 29, 2015, to a tragic death in custody in Sydney’s Long Bay Prison hospital where he had been an involuntary patient inmate. David served a custodial sentence of nine years and six months with a non-parole period of 5 years and six months. He was sentenced on June 26, 2009, at 20 years of age, and served time for assault, aggravated attempted sexual assault, and being involved in a robbery relating to a home invasion. He was due to be considered for parole on February 2, 2016. He had been diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, was acutely psychotic and was a Type 1 diabetic.
During the afternoon of December 29, 2015, David retrieved some rice crackers and biscuits from his belongings, returned to his cell, and began to eat them. Nursing and correctional staff within the ward where David was housed expressed some concern about this situation given David’s elevated blood sugar levels which had been measured earlier that day. Requests were made of David to return his biscuits and crackers; he refused. This resulted in David being forcibly removed by correctional officers from his cell to a different cell so that his condition could be observed. There he was held face down by five officers – David yelled in distress, 12 times “I can’t breathe”. David’s pleas were ignored. Meanwhile a nurse rushed into the cell and administered a fast-acting sedative. He died moments later. Less than 10 minutes after he was removed from his cell, David Dungay Jr was dead.
Evidence of the tragedy was filmed and shown at a Coronial Inquest. “ He had no weapon, no nothing. They killed him. He was eating biscuits and then he was dead. Why don’t they tell the truth?” cried Leetona. A coronial inquest into David’s death was held in 2019 and found he died from cardiac arrhythmia, with contributing factors including his diabetes, antipsychotic medication, and extreme stress and agitation. At the time, deputy state coroner, Derek Lee rejected a submission from Mr Dungay’s family that the officers involved be referred for disciplinary action.
To this day, neither an individual nor an institution has been held accountable for David’s death. His heartbroken mother, Leetona who has exhausted all avenues in Australia and with the help of her legal team - George Newhouse - co founder of the National Justice Project, Geoffrey Roberston KC and Barrister Jennifer Robinson at Doughty Street International, London, has taken her fight for justice to the United Nations seeking to hold the Australian Commonwealth and the NSW government to accountable for their failure to protect David Dungay Jr.’s right to life and right to effective remedy, and for the systemic failures of successive governments and institutions to implement the 339 recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the systemic failures of the legal system to allow families of victims to secure accountability and justice, and the violations of international human rights law that has produced the worsening crisis of First Nations deaths in custody.
“I hope this opens the door for all First Nations people. The pain is so great. We’ve got to resolve this pain. How can you have over 440 victims and no one gets charged or held accountable. I want the United Nations to say loud and clear to our racist government, ‘No more Aboriginal deaths in Custody.’ Black lives matter. David’s life mattered.”
Australia has never dealt with our history of colonisation, dispossession of our Indigenous people, and intergenerational disadvantage. The beginnings of our Federation were motivated by xenophobia and led to the immediate introduction of restrictive immigration law and the White Australia policy.
As a member of the racial and cultural majority, white and with English ancestors, and a prominent member of the community, I have a responsibility to help dismantle the systems of racial oppression and remove barriers that I never had to face. Having played 29 times for Australia and Captained the Socceroos, I am well aware that no one ever looked at me differently because of my skin colour, religious headwear, or the ethnicity of my name. A few barriers stood in my way as an aspiring athlete. Being on an island brings particular challenges.
Over the past two centuries, Australian politicians and media have externalised and demonised various groups on a cyclical basis to stoke fear and, at least in the last century for 70-odd years, maintain racial purity. From the ‘yellow peril’ after the Second World War to Vietnamese crime gangs to Sudanese youth in Victoria as recently as 2021, there have always been minority communities attacked similarly throughout our history, and this has to stop. One of the most important, from a cultural perspective, that goes to the acceptance of our multicultural reality and future is asylum seekers and refugees.
Since former Prime Minister John Howard lied about asylum-seeking mothers throwing their children overboard and following the 2001 Tampa disgrace when Australia refused to land people in extreme distress, one of the most demonised cohorts in Australian history is refugees. Our abject cruelty towards people fleeing persecution and the propaganda used to incarcerate them in the National mind has bled into broader society.
The normalised mistreatment of others made the country uncaring and created a wholesale rejection of global citizenry that has also manifested itself in climate denialism. I believe that we can never be the country we are capable of while we so mistreat and harm innocent, non-white people, and we must find a way to end one of our darkest periods. In recent years, I’ve been working to change the narrative and policy in this area and to get Australia to a better place, including hundreds of people trapped in our offshore detention system, onshore and often for a decade or more.
Born in Camden, Craig grew up in Lismore, lives in Sydney, and is a father of 3. The former Socceroo has a Law Degree and a Master’s Degree in International Sport Management. Craig is a member of the Australian Multicultural Council and is a Torrens University Adjunct Professor of Sport and Social Responsibility.
“I was 8 when they took me. I was told I would be number 36. If I used my name, I was beaten, abused, and treated less than an animal in the evil Kinchela Boys’ home where we were forced to stay. People say we were STOLEN, I don’t like that word, I’m not an object, I’m a human being who was kidnapped from my family thanks to a racist government policy. I lost my culture, identity, and family and spent my whole life trying to drink my pain away, suffering. In and out of prison for 45 years. I’m still learning about my heritage and trying to heal.”
Born on the 12th of December 1951, Wailwan, Wongaibon elder, James Michael ‘Widdy’ Welsh, is affectionately known as Uncle Widdy. The father of 10 is a Stolen Generation survivor, a Kinchella Boys Home survivor. Uncle Widdy is the Treasurer of Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) in Sydney. KBHAC is committed to empowering positive, healthy peer support models that enable greater inclusion in community life, including rebuilding and strengthening identity and family structures with services to KBH survivors and their families.
“I’m from a town called Coonamble. My people are Wailwan and Wongaibon people; we are the protectors of the black duck. As an eight-year-old, I used to dance around the campfire with my Mum, Pop, and Granny. My grandfather played the violin, my mother played the piano accordion, my uncles played the gum leaves, my grandmother and sister would play the bones, and we’d dance around the campfire of a night time. We had a lot of joy and fullness, and then the journey of life ended.
We were taken away from our mother. We were put on a train, myself and my brothers and sisters, and there were seven of us. I had an older brother at that time who was 10, I was eight, we had a sister five, a brother four, another brother four, and a brother and sister six months old. We were set on a train ride, not knowing where we were going. Mum never told us, but 13 hours later, we pulled up at a place I now know as Central Station. At that station, we were separated from each other. My brother and myself went to a place called Kinchela, my other siblings were taken to different places. (I learnt later in my life where they were taken). When my brother and I went through the gates of Kinchela Boys Home, halfway between Kempsie and South West Rocks up on the North Coast, we knew that this was a bad place. There was nothing about it that looked like home or friendly. I remember walking up the stairs and they took me up to meet the man that I later learnt was the manager. From there, after what was needed to be done, they committed us to the place. I don’t like to call it a home because it wasn’t a home; it was a bad place. They took us down to a place and stripped us of our clothes, and shaved all the hair off our bodies, at that time it was just me and my brother. They threw powder over us and then took us to an incinerator so we could stand there and watch them burn all our clothes and our shoes. From there, they took us to a room, gave us clothes, and told us I was no longer to be known as Michael or my brother Barry, I was now to be known as number 36, and he was to be known as number 17. If we were ever to use our names again, we would be punished which meant a beating.”
From 1924 to 1970, under the authority of the NSW Aborigines Protection Board and its successor, the Aborigines Welfare Board, between 400 and 600 young boys (a small number of Aboriginal girls who lived too far away from a school were accommodated there in the first few years), were incarcerated at the Kinchela Aboriginal Boys' Training Home, also known as Kinchela Boys' Home and the Aboriginal Mission School in Kempsey Shire on the mid-north coast of NSW. These children were among thousands across Australia who were systemically kidnapped from their families and communities under accepted government and church policies and practices that created the Stolen Generation. The intent was to re-program them to become ‘white’, an act tantamount to cultural genocide. Kinchela Boys Home is one of the most notorious institutions associated with the Stolen Generations. Kinchela was a place where physical hardship, punishment, cruelty, alienation, and abuse (cultural, physical, psychological, and sexual) were part of the day-to-day life endured by the children. The devastating effects continue to be felt by the descendants and families of the men and women who struggle with intergenerational trauma. kinchelaboyshome.org.au
At 72 years of age, Uncle Widdy is still working to heal the trauma of his past and is a dedicated and tireless advocate in ending intergenerational trauma, “The pain must stop with us. We need the resources to restore our family structures. There’s something very important for our next generation, they must understand that they are the holders of the knowledge for the future. I’m the holder of the knowledge now and the past of my time which I will pass on to younger generations. It’s very important that they carry the right knowledge into the future to stop this pain from keep happening."
Uncle Widdy is committed to sharing his story to make positive change and inroads for a fairer and more equal society. “I don’t want people to give us sympathy; we want understanding, knowledge about what we’re doing, and to be treated equally like everybody else. There are different nations living on this land they call Australia. When I was a child, Australia was called, Wongaibon or Wailwan land, and we have all different diversities of nationalities in our own communities now, and each and every one of them bleeds the same colour blood. There is no difference they have the same pain as everybody else. You can’t measure the pain of somebody else’s worse than yours, pain is pain. How you measure it is by your own individual self. We are all equal, and we bleed the same way.”
“They wanted me to change my name because they thought it could be a problem but I’m proud of who I am. If I was to change my name, I wouldn’t be true to myself and couldn’t stand in front of people telling them to be proud of their personal story so I kept it. Jihad means striving or struggling or to work for a noble cause with determination. That’s what I’m trying to do every day for my electorate and for a more equal and inclusive Australia.”
Born in Tripoli, Lebanon, Jihad migrated to Australia with his family when he was three years old. “My parents were also born in Tripoli and they came here like many families for a better life, to give us the opportunities that we didn’t have over there. We’ve been blessed, we’ve had a wonderful life. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have, had it not been for everything Australia has given me.” The father of three lives in Sydney. He’s the first Muslim/Lebanese MP to represent Lakemba and the first Muslim MP in the NSW Legislative Assembly in 160 years. Punchbowl Boys High School’s former principal has been subjected to racist taunts on social media, targeting his name and religion. Jihad’s proud of his heritage and is a strong advocate for our multicultural society.
Jihad fearlessly stands up for those who don’t have a voice and is tirelessly fighting to improve living standards for vulnerable people in need. In 2023, Jihad is the NSW ALP Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Minister for Emergency Services and Minister for Youth Justice.
“President Zelenskyy is a very talented communicator. He’s been able to get his message across, making headlines around the world … it’s phenomenal, but of course, under very tragic circumstances. He’s also communicated his messages to his people in Ukraine and those fighting in the trenches. You can see him traveling to the trenches. Putin would never do that because he’s so paranoid that he will be killed.”
“Putin is trying to deprive Ukraine of any identity, of its history, of its language of just being a nation, and what Putin has achieved now is a negative result and reaction. We’re united as ever; as a political nation, irrespective of who we are, what religion we are, and what race we are, we’re all united. Our Ukrainian identity is skyrocketing now; even people who didn’t have a clear identity about themselves are clearly Ukrainian now! We can repel the Russians and end this war sooner rather than later. We’ll restore the sovereignty and eventually sign a peace treaty once we control Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea. Of course, we don’t know how much Russia will respect it. They’ve violated all the peace treaties we’ve had in the past. We have to stick to it and eventually become part of NATO because that’s the only way for us to safeguard and protect Ukraine in the future.”
His Excellency Mr. Vasyl Myroshnychenko has been an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia since the 1st of April 2022 and New Zealand (non-resident) since the 10th of August 2022. He also briefly served as an Advisor to the Minister of Defence in Ukraine.
“I’m proud of my President and proud to serve my country as a wartime Ambassador. In 2019, Zelenskyy won in a landslide to become President. He overhauled the entire political establishment of Ukraine. I’m a bit just like him, I’m out of the government system, but I’ve got the experience and skill set that equips me well for the job where I can be most helpful for Ukraine. Ukraine has been an internationally recognised independent and sovereign state since 1991. The sovereign nation was forced to defend itself against Russia, which invaded the country in March 2014 and then again on February 24, 2022. The people of Ukraine voted for independence in December 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, marking the end of the Cold War. Ukraine continues to fight for its territories and liberation from Russian invaders. “For Ukrainians, we can’t give up any land, and it’s not about the land; it’s about the people who live there. Some people tell me, ‘Come on, just give up that land; stop the war; you don’t need it! Are you in your right mind?’”
“Just imagine Indonesia taking over Australia, and you give them Queensland because they want it. So can you imagine that?”
Vasyl was touted to be a future Ukrainian leader from age 15, as he travelled to the United States as an exchange student. His placement at a Tennessee high school proved to be a life-changing experience where he discovered the value and meaning of his Ukrainian identity, the start of many events that led him to the crucial role he operates today.
When the war broke out, Vasyl, his wife, Liana, and two children were forced to flee to Romania. It was distressing to separate the close family as Vasyl had to head back to Volochysk to fulfill his role in the war.
“My mind was blurry during the first few days of the invasion. I had a hard time thinking clearly about what to do, how to cope, and what to expect in the near future.”
While Australia has thus far donated close to $400 million in military assistance alone, Vasyl urges governments from all levels to further support and promote Ukraine’s cause and win more support in the Pacific.
“It’s so important that Ukraine wins because if we can allow one country to change borders by force, it will create an example for many other countries who may want to do the same thing in the Indo-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East. So many countries have dictators now watching how that’s going to end, and I think it’s a perilous precedent that needs to be avoided as much as possible. Look at the implications of this invasion. You’ve seen the prices of petrol, the prices for food all surge and the reason for that is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In Chad and other African nations, bread prices have tripled; people can’t afford it; they’re starving!”
Russia recently formalised its annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia following so-called referendums, which the United Nations says could not be regarded as legal, on whether they wanted to become a part of the Russian Federation. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, stressed on September 30, 2021, “Any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the Principles of the Charter and international law.”
“I really feel that as an Australian that a great wrong has been done to these people and we should try and redress the imbalance here and make it a country that’s fairer for people from other countries coming in and people who were here before we were here. I mean their voice needs to be acknowledged. Other countries have treaties with these people, we don’t. There’s no treaty!”
Jim has achieved extraordinary global success as a leading songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist and founder of one of Australia’s most prolific bands, Midnight Oil. He has performed for over 45 years, mixing their famous hard-rock music with politics, espousing their anti-nuclear, environmentalist, Indigenous causes and socialist beliefs. In 1987, their 1st major hit song, Beds are Burning, demanded that white Australia give back the land appropriated from Indigenous people. The song topped the charts worldwide, changing lives and minds. The album Diesel and Dust focused on the need for recognition of past injustices and the demand for justice.
“If they don’t remember your name or can’t pronounce your name, we may lose business and you will never be able to build a reputation. So, I suggest you shorten your name. The choices are Mannie or Mandy!”
Mannie’s legal name is Manmeet. When as a 21-year-old graduate, she landed her first job as a lawyer in Melbourne, she was told by her boss to change her name. She agreed with the nickname Mannie and decided to keep it as it just made life easier.
The 28-year-old Indian-born Punjabi /Australian, is a Principal Lawyer at Vision & Regal Group – Lawyers and Migration Consultants; an anti-racism, human rights activist and an Ambassador at One Girl – educating girls to change the world. Mannie spends her working hours trying to empower her clientele, particularly young women and girls from diverse backgrounds, to fight for their basic rights in a complex legal system they often don’t understand, which includes demanding respectful relationships, employee entitlements or justice in a dispute.
“The experiences of racism started on the footy field and I couldn’t understand why they were saying the things they were saying. I knew they were trying to hurt me. One thing I did wrong was to try to fight everybody. It made me angry, it made me upset. It wasn’t until my mother and grandmother pulled me aside and said this is not going to be the first time and not the last. They sat me down and told me about what our people had been through and especially my communities. My father encountered what his people had been through; the atrocious and horrendous conditions our people have grown up with in their communities. Those conversations contributed to my education of Indigenous heritage and culture. One thing we talk about in Aboriginal communities a lot is culture makes you strong, culture makes you deadly, culture keeps you on the right path.”
Born February 20, 1977, Michael’s famously known as Micky O or Magic, “I’m a proud Kaurna and Narangba Ngarrindjeri man with Czech, Jew, Irish and English ancestry from Salisbury North, 20 minutes out of Adelaide. All of my people are scattered all over South Australia; I love and adore them. I have lived here in Gadigal country for the past 25 years, and it’s amazing. I applied my trade, kicking the AFL ball around with the Sydney Swans for several years. Now, I’m a business owner, father of three and incredibly humbled by the life journey so far.”
Michael, the oldest of six kids, fondly remembers his family life revolving around barbecues and everyone kicking a footy, throwing a ball, playing cricket, or any sport with uncles, aunties and cousins joining in. “I was brought up a city slicker but spent a lot of time in our community in the Yorke Peninsula; growing up, for holidays and special occasions. There’s an exceptionally large Indigenous population in Salisbury North and nearby Elizabeth, and I have a massive family back there. To listen to the old boys, dad was quite a player, but he was in and out of our lives. Mum was the pillar. A common theme in our community was that many guys have great talent but choose to do other things. It was drummed into me from an early age by my mother, grandmother and great grandmother and my Uncle Wilbur that smoking and carrying on and walking the streets wasn’t the way to go. I saw my mother struggle to provide food and clothing; I was lucky to have boots to play in. I thought, “There has to be a better way.” I’ve always accepted responsibility for that sort of stuff. For me, it was a no-brainer. I’m the oldest, and I’ve got to look after my family. Footy was the one that came straight to me. I had talent at football and thought that might be the way to change our lives.”
The Sydney Swans drafted Michael in 1994, but he found it difficult settling in a new city away from his family, “ The first six months in Sydney I rang home every day, and cried and carried on. But my Mum is a pillar of strength. She rules with an iron fist and said, “You’re not coming home. You’d only come home if you didn’t make it.” If it weren’t for Mum, I’d have probably gone back to Adelaide.” The former Sydney Swans AFL star never looked back. He’s one of the most decorated Indigenous Australian players in the history of the AFL. He was the first Sydney Swans player to reach 300 AFL games and was a member of the Swans 1996 grand final team at 19. He was a graceful and effective figure in the forward line, a vital part of the Swans’ drought-breaking 2005 premiership, and was named as full-forward in the Indigenous Team of the Century. In 2015, the Premiership superstar was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. In an extraordinary career, he was All- Australian in 1997 and 2000, won the Bob Skilton Medal in 1998, and six times finished in the top 10. In 2009, the highly decorated star retired at 32 after 303 games and 521 goals, ranking third on the Swans’ all-time games list and second on the club’s all-time goals list. The same year, Michael co-founded the GO Foundation with his former teammate and cousin Adam Goodes and IBM executive James Gallichan to empower the next generation of Indigenous role models through education.
Michael and his team work tirelessly to encourage education by providing scholarships from kindergarten to University, employment and healthy lifestyle choices among Indigenous people. He’s a successful business leader, co-founder, and Managing Director of ARA Indigenous Services, one of Australia’s leading commercial cleaning businesses. The Sydney Swans Board member is most proud of his work with the GO Foundation, aiming to empower his people and make positive and effective changes in communities across the country. “The GO Foundation is one of the things that makes me the most happiest. It is going to be our legacy not AFL football, that was amazing and I absolutely loved that but being able to help families, communities, and in particular our students with a scholarship to their preferred school is life changing; it might be something as small as being able to provide wifi to a family because there’s no point giving a kid a computer if he can’t use it. It’s one of the amazing things when we get together with our students to be able to talk through stories and give our personal journeys and saying, if we can do it so can you!” says Michael O’Loughlin. Michael is committed to creating opportunities for Indigenous youth through his GO Foundation to fulfil their potential, just like he did.
Ernie is a Hungarian Ghetto survivor and Holocaust survivor. He was born in 1935 in Vienna, Austria; his mother, Amalie, was Viennese/ Austrian, and his father, Laszlo, Hungarian. They were forced out in 1938 due to the Anschluss* and settled in Hungary; his father’s birthplace. “After my father was taken away in a forced labour division, my mother and I at seven years of age, were rounded up to be deported to an unknown destination. The railway stations were bombed out, so they had to march us. On the way, as my mother spoke very poor Hungarian, she spoke to me in German. The guards were half Hungarian Nazis; the ArrowCross, the other half were German soldiers. One German soldier overheard my mother talk to me in German and he started a discussion with her. I still remember him saying, “We’re under orders! We don’t necessarily like it, but we must follow orders.” After about 4 or 5 hours, it started to get dark. It was the winter of 1944. Again this German soldier came up to my mother and whispered something to her. I didn’t hear what he said but a minute or two later my mother suggested to me that I fix up her shoelaces and as I went down to fix her laces she grabbed me and we rolled down the side of the road. Pretty much it was the end of the line and luckily no one noticed us. The German soldier took a huge risk because he suggested it to her and if they found out he would have been shot.” Ernie and his mother were captured three weeks later and taken to a ghetto. They were in captivity for seven weeks until the Russians liberated them. Tragically, his father, at 43 years of age, died in the Gunskirchen camp in Austria, and the rest of his family did not survive the concentration camps except for three cousins.
“More people like you should have been put in the oven,” Ernie recalls the worst racist moment he had ever encountered in Sydney.
Ernie arrived in Australia at 15 and learnt English at night school. He’s never looked back and has dedicated his life to educating young people about racism and bigotry, promoting respect for diversity and inclusive society. He’s forever grateful to the German soldier, “The bravery and humanity shown by that German soldier was a huge turning point. It gave me for the rest of my life a guide not to discriminate and not to be prejudiced and see actually the people for what they are, as individuals and circumstances during the war certainly made people do things that were horrific, some of them are inexcusable but this particular German soldier, his act of humanity, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.” The father of 3 is recognised for his tireless work eradicating racism and bigotry.
In 2006, Ernie received the Order of Australia for his role in the Moving Forward organisation he founded, working in the area of anti-racism and prejudice prevention.
* Anschluss, German: “Union”, political union of Austria with Germany, achieved through annexation by Adolf Hitler in 1938
“Racism is a problem of the world, including Australia!”.
“I was told to go back to where I came from and live with the animals. I was called a black C that’s wrong. It’s got to change.”
Born in 1971 in Musina, a small town in the Limpopo province of South Africa, bordering Zimbabwe. Lovemore grew up in an era of brutal apartheid that enforced existing racial segregation policies, forcing many black people into poverty and hopelessness. He was denied an education until his family moved to Zimbabwe when he was nine. “I experienced a lot of atrocities committed against my family and friends. I had to use sport as a ticket out of poverty and apartheid South Africa.” Lovemore’s talent for boxing and sheer determination helped him overcome many obstacles to rise to prominence as a three-time world boxing champion in two weight divisions. At 25 years of age, he escaped the Apartheid regime for a better life in Australia in 1996. “My own life was nothing in my country.” A 16-year-old, Lovemore, was nearly beaten to death by police because of a platonic friendship with a white girl.
“I decided in my hospital bed, I’d be a lawyer one day.”
The resilient Lovemore became a lawyer and earned seven degrees since coming to Australia, “When I arrived they treated me like a human being. I got a shock when I saw a white person cleaning the toilet in my hotel.” The father of three is living his dream, running his Law firm, called Lovemore Lawyers in Sydney, specialising in family and criminal law and Pro Bono work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This year he released his inspiring and evocative autobiography, Tough Love in Australia and South Africa. Lovemore is also an aspiring politician, “I plan to one day return to South Africa to help my people and rebuild the country through a major new political party and I may campaign for the Presidency.”
“It was always going to be interesting growing up a child of migrant Asian background in Sydney. Doing so in the 1990s during debates about Asian immigration when you had politicians like Pauline Hanson claiming Asians were swamping Australia, people like my parents and me. It certainly forced me to question national identity and think about what it means to be Australian.”
Born in Montpellier, France, to Chinese/Lao parents, Tim lives with his wife and son in Sydney. He grew up speaking French and Lao, his first languages, before migrating to Australia with his parents when he was three. Tim was Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2013-2018, a Professor of Practice (Sociology and Political Theory) at the University of Sydney and Director of Culture Strategy. In that role, he helped lead the university’s efforts to build a culture that supports its teaching, research and service to society. A political theorist and human rights advocate, Tim’s thinking on multiculturalism, patriotism and national identity has influenced debates in Australia and Britain. “It’s unfortunate that there are elements of our media who feed racism and fuel prejudice and discrimination. It’s not all sections of the media, but some sections of the media, quite frankly, use racism as part of their business model. They use it to generate controversy, they use it to fuel hostility against certain groups, and they do it because they believe it does something good for their business.” Tim’s the author of 5 books, On Hate; I’m Not Racist But…: 40 years of the Race Discrimination Act; Don’t Go Back to Where You Came From; The Virtuous Citizen and Reclaiming Patriotism. He’s a regular columnist for various publications, including the SMH and The Age. Tim also wrote and presented the award-winning Mongrel Nation, a six-part documentary series on ABC’s Radio National about Australian multiculturalism. Tim is currently the Chief Diversity Officer and Professor at the University of Oxford and Balliol College Fellow.
‘BLOODLINE’ – Deep family – All born in Sydney
Parents – Australian, Lebanese, Irish, Chinese, Ghanaian & Chilean backgrounds
“Racism is a weapon of mass destruction that breaks apart countries, friendships and families. It comes from a place of ignorance, lack of education and knowledge. This world needs to do better,” says 21-year-old University Law & Psychological Science student Izabella Deep-Jones.
“This is my family – nicknamed the United Nations, my children, Dylan and Izabella, niece and nephews who stem from mixed cultural backgrounds. They’re my driving force to share our stories and experiences with racism in my documentary/style exhibition. The aim is to create a greater understanding of our differences in order to live in a more inclusive society. It breaks my heart to know they’ve been subjected to racism as I have throughout my life but they also inspire me in their actions to make a difference and call it out. Racism is dangerous, it’s demoralising and it must stop if we’re to truly live in an equal society where we can all thrive.” Journalist/producer/curator Liz Deep-Jones
Keenan is a proud First Nations man with connections to the Biripi Nation of NSW through his mum, who was from Taree and ties to the Wakka Wakka Nation in Queensland through his Dad, who was from Cherbourg. Keenan is the youngest of three boys, born on March 20, 1987, and raised on Gadigal land.
He grew up in Redfern, the infamous “Block” in Sydney. “My community was a very challenging community to navigate.” He had a rough start to his childhood. After losing both parents at seven years of age, he was separated from his siblings and placed in care at another Aboriginal community near La Perouse, South-eastern Sydney.
“I was exposed to things that no child should see, there was a lot of violence, domestic violence, a lot of police, a lot of drugs and my household wasn’t the most supportive and was unable to provide for my siblings and me. At the age of 6 or 7 I lost my mum to a drug overdose and not long after that my father was found in a car park across the road from my school after committing suicide. I was taken away from my siblings to another Aboriginal community just out next to La Perouse and none of my early childhood experiences were acknowledged or treated and it went on to affect me in many ways. I was in year 3 and went to a Primary school that couldn’t accommodate me in many ways. I was bullied and teased. Some of the things that were said to me really made me hate myself, hate my skin and hate my life.”
At 14, Keenan was surviving by paying for food with the money he earned, stealing computers and phones, and ending up in jail. “I was placed in a dorm with 30 other boys; there were nine and 10-year-old boys in there that had been there for months.” Keenan spent years in and out of the juvenile detention and prison systems (15 years in and out of prison – the longest stretch was four years).
Each time he was released, he would return to the streets and take alcohol and drugs. The cycle would continue until he met his now wife, Carly, a proud Wiradjuri woman with a Masters’s Degree in Criminology (Deadly Connections - CEO & Founder) and turned his life around. Keenan became an influential Aboriginal activist and promoted peace, love and positivity like his idol Nelson Mandela.
“I was shocked when I came to Australia to see the way they treat refugees. They are like you and me. Why are they locked up with no life?”
Born on 26th June 1989 in Germany to Moroccan/Muslim parents, Hnia grew up in The Lake of Constance. She’s an actor, model and International student studying IT Website development and living in Sydney. The 32-year-old came to Australia three years ago. “I came to Australia because I wanted to have a change, to travel and to experience different countries. I never planned to stay longer than a year but that very quickly changed. It’s my second home after Germany. I love it here, everyone’s so friendly and have accepted me for who I am. I feel free to follow my own path.”
Hnia is concerned about the treatment of refugees and gained an understanding while researching her role as a refugee in an Australian play. “Through my acting experience I had to role play as a refugee and I realised how lucky I am even if I’m not able to get my permanent residency, I can still stay in Australia. I saw the opposite for someone who needs to be rescued from a different country and just gets sent offshore to Nauru which is similar to a prison. So, I’ve realised that having a German passport and coming from a country this is welcomed everywhere is very different to being a refugee who really needs to find a safe place and is not able to come!”
“Indigenous people in this country; we experience racism in this country every day.”
“Racism makes me feel less than human, insignificant, like I’m not even here. Today I know that we need to stand up and be proud of who we are. We are in our country and that cannot be ignored.”
Thomas is a Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait Islander) man born and raised in Larrakia Country in Darwin. He’s a National Indigenous Officer at the Northern Territory Branch Sect Maritime Union of Australia and Signatory of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Thomas treasures the days in his country, growing up on the mainland when he learned to hunt traditional foods with his father and island dance. In high school, Thomas’s English teacher suggested he should become a writer. Instead, at 17 years of age, he became a wharf labourer, gained tremendous confidence, became a union official for the Maritime Union of Australia, found his voice on the wharves, and used it to work towards advancing the rights of Indigenous Australians. The father of 5 became a signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a tireless campaigner. He’s entrusted to carry the Statement’s sacred painted canvas around the country to garner support for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice and a Makarrata Commission for truth-telling and agreement-making treaties.
“First Nations people are still not recognised in our own country and that’s based on racism. The Constitution has a racist section in it which is section 51(xxvi) which allows the government to make special laws for a race of people and it’s only being used for First Nations people.” Thomas believes that we’ll only find the heart of our nation when the First peoples – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, are recognised with a representative Voice enshrined in the Australian Constitution. The father of five is a fearless human rights campaigner and an active advocate for refugee rights, regularly calling for their release from indefinite detention at peaceful protests in Darwin and is outspoken against recent Youth Law Reforms in the Northern Territory.
Thomas also became a writer, as his teacher suggested, becoming one of the first Torres Strait Islander authors to have published books for general trade. His books are an excellent and vital insight into First Nations culture;
Dear Son – Letters and reflections from First Nations fathers
Finding Our Heart – about the Uluru Statement for young Australians
Finding the Heart of the Nation – an essential and unique book full of stories about extraordinary people who will take you on an unforgettable journey to a place where you can start a new beginning, “In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”
“The belief that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The Bahá’í community is learning with others about how we can work towards higher degrees of unity so that we can live in a world that is enamoured with justice and equity and, ultimately, where we can live together in a state of peace and in a world which is free from prejudices, whether religious, racial or gender-related.”
Her parents were born and raised in Iran, where they lived and worked until the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Following the revolution and their belief in the Bahá’í Faith, they were formally expelled from employment. “My mother was a registered nurse and my father was a Major in the military. Over the past four decades, Bahá’ís in Iran have been denied access to public employment as part of a broader and continuous, multidimensional state-sponsored effort to systematically persecute and eliminate the entire Bahá’í community of Iran through its gradual strangulation. Beyond the denial of employment, other tactics that are used to persecute the Bahá’ís, to name but a few, include the denial of access to higher education, arrests, and imprisonment, and the closure of Bahá’í owned shops and businesses. Due to these pressures, my parents left Iran and moved to Belgium where I was born. Shortly after that, we moved to Australia.”
“The Bahá’í Faith offers my family and I a sense of purpose, inspiration, and a framework for living. It motivates us to strive towards a twofold moral goal. The first is personal, to reflect and seek each day to be a better person, focusing on developing my attributes and qualities. The second is collective and, together with those who are also committed to social progress, take practical steps to serve society. Whether it’s offering prayers, engaging in conversations that explore our spiritual foundations and values or creating settings which bring people together. We hope to work together to keep learning about overcoming our prejudices so that we can all experience greater unity and cohesion while acknowledging and celebrating our diversity for the collective well-being of all of humanity. I am encouraged by initiatives such as the ‘We Bleed The Same’ exhibition, which highlights our shared humanity. I recognise this effort as one that seeks to contribute towards a longer- term process, working towards identifying and accepting our inherent oneness while acknowledging and honouring the diversity of the human family.”
“I can never imagine a situation that you’re on the correct side of racism. My experiences of being subjected to racism and or dealing with racist individuals has fuelled my passion and desire to help create greater understanding of one another. If we’re to stop racism, through education and exhibitions like We Bleed The Same, we need to reduce fear of the unknown and judgement that is strictly based on the colour of someone’s skin. Growing up in Sydney I feel very fortunate not to have been subjected to extreme forms of racism although there were times I didn’t feel safe. Racism is still an ongoing issue within our community and we must work together to stop it. Covert and causal racism is commonplace for someone like me. These experiences have helped to shape me and fuel my desire to help make positive change for those with archaic and ignorant mindsets.”
Born in Paddington, Sydney, on the 31st of January 1996, Dylan grew up in the Eastern suburbs to Australian/Lebanese, Irish parents. He’s a university student studying Sports Management and works as a football programs manager and coach.
Dylan strives to create a greater understanding of one another, embrace and learn more about different cultures, impart that knowledge to his peers and future generations, and hopefully create a more inclusive Australia.
“The first time in my life I was called a wog, was in Sydney. I was shocked and then even more shocked when a company told me they didn’t want me to hire any black people. Now, middle-aged white people struggle to get work.”
Born in Malta to Maltese parents. Alexandra’s father was in the air force and had to leave when Malta became independent when she was two years old. Her father did many tours of duties; therefore, her family travelled extensively across the globe living in many places, including Oxford, London, Gibraltar, Cyprus and Germany. Alexandra now resides in Sydney. The former model is a leading businesswoman, recruiter, and humanitarian; she empowers women through her business and leadership courses and runs workshops for disadvantaged women trying to get back into the workforce.
The mother of three is the MD of her own company, Advance Human Solutions, which she’s been successfully running for over 23 years, specialising in executive headhunting, consultancy and recruiting. When Alexandra first started her company in Sydney, she was shocked by the overt racism, “When I was going to do my very first (recruitment) search, I went to a tier investment bank and while I was walking around the trading floor, I got told that this company did not hire any black people; I was absolutely flabbergasted. I was representing one of my clients who I had placed three times in the UK and he was new to Australia; a friend of mine, still is and a black guy. I could not believe my ears. He was probably the best in the country to do the job and yet because of his colour they did not want to interview him.”
“Don’t let them take your power. Racism is just ignorance! I use humour to build rapport to change their mind because I’m comfortable in my own skin.”
Jack Hanna was born in Kunming, China. He immigrated to Australia with his family in 1995. The father of two has worked in the Hospitality industry for nearly 20 years.
Jack founded The Grounds of Alexandria Group Sydney in 2012 which quickly become an international venue; consecutive years ranked in the top 10 most visited places in Australia (Instagram). Jack is also the youngest-ever World Latte Champion. He won the first official Australian Latte Art championship and claimed Australia’s second consecutive world title in Belgium in 2007. Jack was surprised when he became a hero in the coffee world to other Asian baristas after becoming the first Asian champion of any world coffee competition. He inspired fellow Asian baristas to pursue their careers in an industry where they previously felt unacknowledged.
Jack now heads up a podcast called “The Easy Road”, talking to people from all walks of life who have made it to the ‘top’, discussing the trials and tribulations of their journey.
“With bigotry an even bigger public issue than two decades ago, it’s imperative that the vision of people learning to live together remains undimmed.”
88-year-old, Valmae is the Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member of The Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry at The Australian National University, ANU College of Arts and Social Science.
Valmae was born in 1934 in St Kilda, Melbourne. Her younger sister Barbara arrived three years later. They are second-generation Australians; grandparents on both sides were born in the 1870s in England, coming to Australia some 20 years later. In turn, they were the offspring of a family fleeing the Anti-Semitic Pogroms that swept the southern and western provinces of the Russian empire. Her father, Elias, a Tailor, and mother, Ena, were married in 1929 in Sydney, where Valmae was born.
At 20, a curious Valmae wanted to see the world and meet people who were different. By ship, she sailed to England to work and start her adventure, exploring the UK, Western Europe and Scandinavia. Later trips as a cruise director and travel agent took her to PNG, Japan, SE Asia, India, and the Middle East. Back in Melbourne, she met visiting Sydney diagnostic Radiologist Dr Herbert Freilich. Several years later, they married in Klosters, Switzerland, where Valmae was working with writers and Hollywood personalities. Herbert eventually retired as a founding partner in an extensive Wollongong x-ray practice and pursuing an interest in mammography, and he helped develop the Sydney Square Diagnostic Breast Clinic. Valmae and Herbert enjoyed visiting old friends in Europe, Israel, the USA, and Central and South America, but home was in Potts Point, Sydney, where they were fuelled by a strong sense of social justice and passion for making the world a better place.
“In many countries, there was a difference in attitude to others; whereas I hadn’t experienced any personal bigotry or racism myself here in Australia, Herbert had, and we discussed it.”
In 1939, at 14, Herbert was on a bus when a man with a strong accent asked the driver for directions; the driver yelled, “Bloody refo bastard. Learn to speak English, why don’t you? Get out of here.” Herbert was shocked, “I felt I should stand up and protest. But I didn’t. I sat silent and felt ashamed ever since. Perhaps the (Freilich) Foundation of Bigotry is the protest I did not make over 60 years ago.”
Valmae says, “Herbert came up with the idea to start the (Freilich) project to do something to combat racism.” After close to 10 years of working on their innovative concept with the ANU, Herbert, and Valmae realised their goal in 1999. They founded what is now the Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry, a philanthropically funded, interdisciplinary research centre based at the Australian National University. The project supports research into the causes, histories, and effects of ethnic, cultural, religious, and sexual bigotry and animosity. It promotes public discussion on how such intolerance can be promoted through social, research, and education programs.
“Bigotry is an infectious disease. We need a vaccine before it becomes, or while it’s becoming a global pandemic. The goal is to participate however small in the vaccination process, and that process must be education.” Herbert Freilich AM.
(Herbert sadly died in 2009 at the age of 84).
Valmae remains a determined and active member of the Freilich Project’s board and takes a keen interest in its direction and development in her quest to make a dent in how humanity behaves towards one another.
“People are expected to shed their identity, shed their cultural heritage to become Australian, whatever that means and that for me is not what it’s about. I think what it means to be Australian is different to everyone.”
Born in London to Nigerian parents, Francis was raised in England and Nigeria.
He moved to Australia in 1988. Francis is a former Socceroo, Lawyer, Labour Law, Human Rights Advocate, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and FIFA PRO Rep Asia. Francis worked alongside Craig Foster on the #SaveHakeem Campaign, galvanising international bodies and contacts to ensure they did everything possible to save 25-year-old former refugee and footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Hakeem al-Araibi was detained in Thailand and faced extradition to Bahrain, where he’d be imprisoned and tortured for a crime he didn’t commit. The campaign to save Al-Araibi trended in 81 countries, reaching over 30 million people. There were 1.7 million who had shared something, making it one of the most successful social media campaigns in Australian history. In the end, the peoples’ power saved Hakeem al-Araibi. Francis continues to fight for the rights of all people who experience indifference, racism and bigotry.
“Lucky in our time we were allowed to leave (the refugee camp), and go to the city and the zoo as a child. If you were a child locked in Villawood and were not able to get out and leave for months or years at a time, your mental state would really suffer. It is so wrong. It boggles my mind that the government can’t see it.”
Born in Prague, the old Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic. Marcella grew up with her grandparents. Her parents were born in Prague; under the communist regime. They had to work extremely long hours and were forced to live in another city so that they could provide for their family. “It was a troubling time and people lived in fear. You couldn’t trust anyone. My family escaped communism for a better life for me and my sister. I was heartbroken that we couldn’t tell my grandparents as it would put their lives at risk.”
Marcella’s family arrived in Australia as refugees and had to settle in a camp before her father, a doctor and mother, a nurse, could set up their lives and move to the Eastern Suburbs. “I’m so grateful my parents brought us to Australia so I had the opportunity to pursue my dreams without fear or restrictions.” Marcella is a highly successful artist who lives on the South Coast with her husband, dog and cat.
“Living in the United States was like being in shackles! I didn’t feel like I could reach my full potential. I can be myself living in Australia; I’m not always looking over my shoulder. I feel safe and free to be me.” Shel Morris.
I grew up quickly because I also had to look after my brother, who was five years younger than me when my mother went to work. We had to stay inside the house, so we watched a lot of television together.”
“Despite feeling like an outsider, I didn’t experience racism until I was an adult, or maybe I didn’t notice it when I was younger. I always dressed well and had my hair cut, so I had a positive experience in school. My teachers were supportive, and I got good grades. Later, as an adult, I realised I was being ignored in shops and didn’t get served; people would look at me suspiciously. I was watched in restaurants; wherever I went, it was unnerving. I’d keep my head down so I could stay safe and not attract any trouble. But here in Australia, I’ve only had positive experiences. I’ve been asked twice by older white women for assistance, which would never happen in the States. No one is afraid of me here simply because I am Black.”
In August 1995, when Shel was 24, he tragically lost his 19-year-old brother, Crosby, “We weren’t notified about his whereabouts and situation until days later. We were devastated to learn that my younger brother was dead. My parents had to go down to the morgue to identify his body. I didn’t want to go because I was in shock. I couldn’t face it. We found out that he was killed by police a few nights before. He was driving on his way home when he was pulled over by police near a McDonalds in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC. They claimed he had drugs on him and tried to swallow a bag of marijuana. A homeless man later reported that he had witnessed drugs being shoved down his throat. Who tries to swallow a bag of marijuana? It made no sense. Crosby collapsed and couldn’t be revived. We were heartbroken and in extreme shock; we were told that he died from “accidental” suffocation and suffered brain damage. He had been taken to the hospital. His next of kin was never notified. His life support was switched off without permission from our family. We didn’t get a chance to see him in the hospital and say goodbye! His organs could have been donated as well. We were gutted and angry; we couldn’t get justice for him and my family. There was no closure!”
“As a migrant, the black history of Australia was hidden from me. I did not know about what happened to the Aboriginal people, what happened to the First Nations people in Australia and I acknowledge that I’m a beneficiary of their dispossession, genocide and ongoing colonial violence against them and it’s my responsibility and everyone’s responsibility to make sure that we stand in solidarity with them because this is their land.”
Born and educated in the Philippines, “I came to Australia in 1998. I migrated here as an economic migrant via my mother, who has now passed on. My parents are both Philippines but they separated when I was little. My Mum fell in love with an Australian war veteran. His name was Trevor, they got married and he brought Mum to Australia in the 80’s. We decided to migrate here because Mum got sick and thought she would die. We fell in love with Australia and decided to stay here.” Brenda’s a proud Kayumanggi woman living in Sydney on the unceded land of the Wallumattagal clan of the Darug nation. She’s a second- generation migrant/settler born, raised and educated in Manila, Philippines. The mother of four is an entrepreneur, the Founder and Managing Director of Women of Colour Australia, a not-for-profit organisation run by women of colour for women of colour, advocating, supporting and strengthening the lives and experiences of women of colour in all places and spaces within Australia.
“I’m an advocate for women of colour and want a world where girls and women of colour are afforded equitable opportunities to reach their full potential. I face a double glass ceiling as a woman and a woman of colour. So race and gender will always be at play. I have to deal with overt and covert racism. But we are works in progress and I believe we can all unlearn and relearn for the better.”
A national report by the advocacy group Women of Colour Australia, in partnership with Murdoch University, surveyed 543 women of colour. Seven per cent identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander found that almost 60 per cent experienced discrimination relating to their identities, such as their sex, ethnicity, age or religion, “Even if we’re saying 60 per cent, it might be like 70 or 80 per cent in reality. The findings are unsurprising, and incidents go underreported. Only one-third of respondents felt their identity as a woman of colour was recognised and valued at work. This has got to change,” says Brenda, who’s been championing female voices for over a decade, passionate about social justice, intersectional feminism and racial and gender equality.
“I’ve experienced racial slurs, racial vilification, many times, in school, on the footy field, on the street, the N word, being called black c…, blackie, whatever, these things are common. I’ve even been followed by police who didn’t believe I lived in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. There’s no excuse these days to be ignorant but I combat racism by sharing my stories and positive attitude in life through my music as a rap artist. This is how I’m trying to create change.”
Born on 14 February 1996 in Sydney, Cocoa’s parents are Ghanaian/Lebanese/Australian.
Cocoa is a Rap artist and songwriter. He’s been subjected to racism for most of his life and tackles it now through his music.
As a young person, he’s astonished by the lack of understanding about people from diverse cultures, “My teacher would always get my name wrong, my name’s Cocoa but she’d get my name wrong and call me Choco. I’d correct her and the class would too but she’d say, ’Oh it’s because I put Choco in my coffee every morning.’ She’d keep getting it wrong. We reported her but nothing was done about it. She kept saying I reminded her of the Choco she had in her morning coffee and she didn’t mean anything by it. It’s racist and it did affect me, it was annoying, get my name right! It didn’t sit right.”
Cocoa writes about his experiences and uses his music to confront social issues, racism and prejudice to spread understanding and love for humanity.
“My parents came to Australia to give their family opportunities, to live without fear and for freedom. The freedom to be Uyghur. I am grateful that my parents chose to come to Australia. Heartbreaking to realise that if they had stayed in the Xingjiang Autonomous Region in Northwest China (East Turkistan), I could have been in an internment camp.”
Born in Modbury, Adelaide, in 1990, now living in Sydney, Subhi is a Communications Director, Branding and Design at Gould Studio. Her ethnic background is Uyghur/Uzbek. Subhi’s mother, a doctor and father, a journalist, are Uyghurs. Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking people from China’s autonomous Xingjiang region or East Turkistan. Similar to Tibet, Xingjiang is a tightly controlled region of China. Her parents were among the first university graduates after the cultural revolution in China. They were frustrated as they lived with the knowledge of how Uyghurs were being treated under China’s government policies. Subhi’s parents dreamt of bringing up their family in a democratic society full of opportunities and freedom. Australia was their answer, and they’ve never looked back except at the anguish of their relatives enduring life under the Chinese Communist Party’s policies. Policies that have seen the arrest and imprisonment of Uyghur and Turkic people in what China calls “vocational training centres.” There is growing evidence of human rights violations inside these centres and reports of deaths in custody and forced labour.
The U.K., U.S.A., Canada and other countries have recognised what the Uyghurs are facing is genocide. Subhi hasn’t heard from her relatives for approximately three years, and while she’s concerned, any foreign contact could put her loved ones at risk.
"The word Aboriginal was like a word that described a group of people but you didn’t really know anything about them. You certainly weren’t taught about them at school. You were taught about the Queens and Kings of England.”
Born June 23, 1947, father of three, Bryan Brown is a leading actor and producer in Australia’s film and television industry, spanning a successful career over four decades. It all started in a housing commission in Panania, southwestern Sydney, where he grew up with his Mum, Molly and sister, Kristine. He worked as an actuarial student at AMP, a non-profit insurance company and mutual society, before heading overseas to pursue an acting career. “At 25, I sold my car, bought a ticket to go to England and told everyone that I was an actor. There were a few silly buggers over there that believed me and I got a job as an actor, and that started that professionally.”
The iconic Aussie actor never looked back, performing in over 80 films, working in 25 countries, and appearing in a stream of Australian hits. Successful Hollywood productions including The Chant of Jimmie, Blacksmith-directed by Fred Schepisi; critically acclaimed
- Breaker Morant (1980) directed by Bruce Beresford; Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984) with Paul McCartney; F/X (1986); Tai-pan (1986); Internationally successful TV series, “A Town like Alice” (1981); Gorillas in the Mist (1988); Two Hands (1999); Cocktail with Tom Cruise (1988); Along Came Polly (2004) with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston and The Thorn Birds (1983) which also starred Rachel Ward (whom he married in 1983). He also appeared in Red Dog: True Blue (2016) and Sweet Country (2017). Produced and starred in Palm Beach (directed by his wife) and the 2019 TV series Bloom. Bryan’s won many awards, including the prestigious Longford Lyell Award at the 2018 AACTAs recognising his contribution to Australian cinema. He’s one of Australia’s most prolific and loved actors and utilises his high profile for positive change, including fighting for the survival of the Australian film industry, refugee children locked up in detention and packing essential food items at a charity organisation in Sydney for the disadvantaged. The charismatic storyteller has also starred in many theatre productions and fondly reflects on his time with the historic Black Theatre in Redfern, formed in 1972 (which grew out of political struggle), performing with trailblazers, including Gerry and Lester Bostock, Gary Foley and Marcia Langton.
“The first real time I really came across anything different to Anglo was when I came back to Australia and I got the opportunity to work at the Black Theatre in Redfern and there was a play being done there by Gerry Bostock and the play was called ‘Here comes a N****’ It was a chant that was levelled at this character in the play by other young kids around the place and it was a story about a black man and his relationship with a white woman. I played a Vietnam Vet who was the brother of the woman and I hated the fact that she was connected to an Aboriginal fella. Because it was in Redfern, all the Indigenous people were as comfortable as you like, I was the one that was uncomfortable. I wouldn’t go out on a Friday night in Redfern unless I had one of the boys from the play with me. It was a little volatile but a lot of fun.” Bryan has mastered storytelling on the stage and screen and has extended his skills to writing, releasing a highly anticipated debut crime novel, Sweet Jimmy.
“I’m a proud Australian Muslim woman. I do all the things that you do. I go hiking, horse riding and go to the beach. Please don’t let a piece of material which I choose to wear get between you and me.”
Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1995, the daughter of an Australian/Egyptian Muslim father who is an academic in computer science. Her mother, Umm Jamaal Ud-Din, is a 7th generation Christian born Australian who converted to Islam and is a Quran and Islamic Sciences teacher and Shaykha (female leader), one of Australia’s first female Muslim scholars.
Maryam is a twin and, from 2 months old, grew up in Sydney’s West in a family of 4 brothers and sisters. The schoolteacher loves the outdoors, spending as much time as she can with her beloved horses and hiking in the luscious terrain near her home. She profoundly loves Australia, “We literally have every terrain here, snow, desert, forest, beaches.”
Maryam is also a devout Muslim, and from the age of 7, she willingly donned the Hijab and, at 21, chose to wear the Niqab. The 25-year-old is passionate about giving back to her community and dismantling faith-based stereotypes; she feels empowered by her adoption of the Niqab, which makes her feel closer to her religion. It also asserts her identity as a proud Muslim woman and makes her feel liberated and in control of who can and cannot see her (she removes the veil only in the company of other women). Maryam says, “Even with the societal expectations these days; I am completely free of any pressure of looking a certain way and adhering to the latest fashion trends.”
“I left my family and home in Sri Lanka behind because I wanted to come to Australia for safety and peace but they took away my freedom. I was locked up in indefinite detention for nearly 8 years, without being told why. Even the worst criminal has the right to know his sentence. I lost hope and tried to end it all.”
Thanush is a 31-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil and Hindu refugee, human rights advocate and refugee activist is currently living on Sydney’s north shore.
At 23 years of age, Thanush fled persecution in Sri Lanka by boat in pursuit of a new life filled with opportunities, freedom and safety. But his dream was shattered when his boat was intercepted on its way to Australia. He then embarked on a treacherous journey, enduring nearly eight years of indefinite detention, first on Christmas Island for 45 days and then transferred against his will to Manus Island in late 2013, where he was locked up in offshore detention for more than six years. In 2016, Thanush was granted refugee status while in Papua New Guinea but still remained in detention. He saw no way out; in 2018, while in hotel detention in Port Moresby, he attempted suicide. “I’d lost my hope. I had nothing, no freedom; this is no life, no hope for a future”. He spent a month in the hospital recovering, and in August 2019, he was transferred to Australia for chronic physical and mental health treatment under the now-repealed Medevac legislation.
Thanush was housed in a Melbourne hotel designated as an alternative Place of Detention before enduring a further 16 months in an immigration detention facility where he was detained with close to 180 people while they received medical treatment. “I needed treatment for my mental health issues; I thought being in Australia would change my life, but again I was in detention in the Mantra Hotel (Melbourne). I spent 23 hours inside my room which was very difficult, and I needed help. Why do they treat us like this? This is no life!” Despite no end in sight, he headed into the New Year of 2021 with renewed hope for his future. His dream was realised in January 2021 when he was suddenly released, a government decision based on cost-cutting. “Of course, I’m delighted to be free, but I need time to recover from all those years taken away from me. It was wrong, and it was torture!” After months of government-funded accommodation, Thanush has had to seek shelter and food through friends and charities in Sydney. While he can work under his six- month bridging VISA, he has no right to study under his VISA conditions, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to reach his aspirations.
“It’s tough to work for my future. I have another 3-month VISA, but I must apply again at the end of the year. I don’t know what will happen.” Despite the challenges he faces, Thanush hasn’t forgotten his friends and fellow refugees still locked up in detention and spends as much time as possible advocating for their release and calling for ‘permanent’ resettlement options. Thanush is still chasing his dream, “I want to become a fitness instructor and photographer and build a life in Australia and give back to a country which will hopefully give me a chance!”
“As mothers, we will continue fighting for the disadvantaged: Why are they treated differently... we will not go away… we will not stop in the pursuit of justice for all.”
Born in Mexico and living in Sydney, Dulce is a National Convener for the non-profit, Mums 4 Refugees, a grassroots network of Mums campaigning for social justice and refugees. Dulce has helped to bring close to 50 people to Australia from offshore detention and provides invaluable support to help them with their daily lives. The mother of one is also an outspoken Anti-Racism campaigner, “It wasn’t until Trump got into power when he pushed the rhetoric of we are all rapists, drug dealers, we’re killing babies and Mexican immigrants are horrible that I needed to inform myself and I needed to fight back. The first time I decided to speak back against what’s happening I spoke at a rally in front of thousands of people and for someone with an accent, talking about something that is so private like your own identity is hard but as a mother, I didn’t have a choice. Look at me, if I don’t stand up with all my privilege then what’s going to happen with kids who look like me who are vilified, who don’t have the resources or the strength or the privilege that I have to speak up.”
“I went to hell and back. I just want peace. I try to fit in and contribute but it’s hard here (in Australia) for Africans.”
Born in 1983 near Malek, a small fishing village in South Sudan near the White Nile River. Deng grew up in a family of 42 children – his father had six wives. When civil war broke out in the 1980s, four of his brothers joined the rebel forces. At just six, Deng was forced to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Army; at eight, he was trained to use an AK-47. He was shot in the back when fighting broke out in a raid. At 12, he was smuggled out of Sudan by his older brother and once awarded refugee status, Deng was sponsored by Christian Aid to start a new life alone in Australia in 1998. Here, he taught himself English by watching the Wiggles. In time, Deng completed a law degree at Western Sydney University and is a Partner at AC Law Group, where he works as a Defence Lawyer. His John Mac Foundation, named after his brother who saved his life (he died in 2014 in South Sudan), helps students from refugee backgrounds transition into the workforce.
In 2017 he was recognised as the NSW Australian of the Year. Deng is also a community leader and author of the best-selling memoir; Songs of a War Boy.
We were the only Asians living in Nambour. I’d spent enough time with my family knowing that there’s nothing wrong with being different. When people say oh look we’re the same. I get that sentiment but what I would say is we’re all different and there’s nothing wrong with being different. In fact, it’s really great.”
Born in Nambour, Queensland, on September 16, 1982, Benjamin’s Mum was born in Malaysia to Cantonese parents, and his Dad was born in Guangdong Province, formerly Canton, to Chinese parents. “They met in Hong Kong and moved to Australia, and more specifically, they moved to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, where I was born in the 1980s. Now if you haven’t been to the Sunshine Coast, it’s stunning and it’s really white. So my family obviously stood out like a sore thumb and were one of the few Asian families.”
Benjamin is a broadcaster, columnist, TV screenwriter and author. His books; Family Law: a family memoir, published in 2010 and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East, a journalistic exploration of LGBT life in Asia.
“It wasn’t until I moved to cities like Brisbane and then later Sydney, I realised that oh wow, Australia’s quite multicultural. I just didn’t register that because my town wasn’t, the Australian media and arts weren’t so why would I have any sense that the rest of the country was multicultural. I realised that my family was the one in five Australian families that speak languages other than English at home, that my parents were one in four Australians who were born overseas and that our family was one in two Australians with at least one parent born overseas and that we are part of the Australian story and really quite at the centre of things. We are part of the Australian story and part of the Chinese Australian story, it goes back over 200 years. I didn’t get that knowledge growing up so a lot of the work that I do now whether it’s writing, radio, making television, making plays is really about centering stories that we don’t usually see because I really feel like those stories are so much a part of what the Australian story is.”
“I received a letter filled with racist hate speech which included a death threat to me and all Asians. It started like this, ‘This country was built by white Australian people. You will never be a part of this country. No matter how much you breed or try to breed with other nationalities your kind will continue to have the ugliest picture, like slanted eyes, and the ugliest yellow skin and hair that wouldn’t be good enough to wipe the Australian public’s arse, especially when you stole all our toilet paper and shipped it all to China.’”
“That is Racism!. It’s distressing and shocking but I’m not worried about me, I fear for the safety of my wife and family.”
Kun was born in Fuzhou, China, in 1990 and migrated with his parents to Australia in 1999. “The reason my parents decided to migrate to Australia is because they wanted a better life for me and they believed that Australia could deliver that.” Kun’s parents settled in Sutherland, “Growing up in an unfamiliar space is scary and daunting, especially for a 9 year old who didn’t even speak the language nor knows anyone. School is the place where I first encountered racism, “Go back to your boat” became the common phrase by those who wanted to ensure my difference was noticeable.”
Kun now lives in Sydney’s west with his wife and works in the finance sector Union. In 2017 he was elected as a Cumberland City Labor Councillor. He’s determined to make a difference and work towards a more inclusive society. The rise in Anti-Asian sentiment during the global pandemic deeply concerns Kun, who was subjected to racism in a targeted attack threatening him, other Australian/Asian councillors, and the wider Australian-Chinese community. “I’ve been a councillor for three and a half years now and never received anything like this before. I’ve seen a lot of crazy letters when I worked for federal and state MPs, but this letter was disgusting.” Among the insults in the letter was a personal death threat to him and all Chinese people, who were blamed for the COVID pandemic and were accused of stealing all the milk powder, buying up all the houses and bringing disease to Australia for centuries. “Only White Australians had built Australia and all Chinese people are to be killed by fumigation.” The threatening letter was one of four sent to other Australian/Asian councillors amidst a surge in race hate attacks during the pandemic, which has renewed calls for a centralised hate tracker and raised concerns about putting people off standing for its public positions. NSW police were investigating the racist letter sent to Kun, but they dropped the case through lack of evidence. Kun is not deterred from speaking out and taking a stance against this unacceptable behaviour. The 31-year-old calls on the government to take action against those who threaten our multicultural society by attacking people based on their religion and cultural background.
Kun Huang is the former Deputy Mayor at Cumberland City Council and currently an Advisor to the Hon Andrew Giles MP, Ministerfor Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.
“I’m really grateful my parents left the civil war (in Lebanon) to come to Australia for a better life for me and my brothers. But them turning their back on their homeland meant for me that I had to constantly question who I was, where I was from, what my identity was about, what made me who I am, what made me think the way I did, how the value system I built in my heart formed my opinions of the world.”
Born in Sydney, Patrick, a father of one, identifies as Palestinian, Lebanese, Arab/ Australian, and is fluent in Arabic and German. He’s lived in Lebanon, Palestine, Morocco and Germany. Patrick’s dad is a 1948 Palestinian refugee who was driven out of his home with his grandmother. Patrick’s grandmother was shot in the leg when the Israeli military forced them out, and both his dad and grandmother ended up in a camp in North Lebanon. Patrick’s mum is Lebanese and immigrated with her family to Australia in the early 70s.
“I was the only brown kid with a big afro, very dark skin, big bright white buck teeth. I was a scrawny short kid and my nickname was wog. It upsets me now reflecting on it because I took that identity on as it was my only way to fit in.” Patrick has forged his own identity and is a game changer in the Australian media landscape, working as a high-profile TV presenter, documentary filmmaker, and founder of irreverent news, current affairs, satire and a program called The Feed on SBS TV. As a correspondent in Europe, Asia, the USA and the Middle East, he’s explored 53 countries, sharing untold stories. He’s also hosted the annual SBS Mardi Gras LIVE TV broadcast alongside Joel Creasy and Magda Szubanski over the past six years, hoping to empower people struggling just as he did to be comfortable with who they are. Patrick’s a man on a mission, fearless in his quest to question the status quo and show us another way of looking at things through his wise and heartfelt storytelling.
“Whenever I experienced racism which was frequent across the course of my life my initial instinct was to fight back and that often meant getting into arguments. I remember in Primary school being called a black plastic bag because of the colour of my skin or people saying my skin was the same colour as poo. Throughout high school even more so my response was to fight back and stand up for myself. Coming from a Sikh community we have a long standing history of oppression or injustice so I was very much fuelled by that history. The impact that racism had on me was this feeling of not knowing where I belonged so much so that it manifested in the forms of identity issues; me trying to be something that I’m not, running away from my culture to lose fluency in my mother’s tongue Punjabi because I didn’t think it was cool or acceptable. I pulled away from our music, our culture, our practices, doing so not knowing how much harm it was doing to me.”
Sukhdeep Singh Bhogal goes by the name of L- FRESH The LION. The acronym F.R.E.S.H. stands for Forever Rising Exceeding Sudden Hardships, while the L and LION refer to the middle name, Singh, which is given to Sikh men.
Born October 12, 1988, in Liverpool, on Dharawal land, he was brought up in South West Sydney with a younger brother. His parents, born in Punjab, India, migrated to Australia in the mid to late 80s and settled in Glenfield. L-FRESH the LION is Sikh, an activist, producer, and Hip Hop Artist - leading the conversation about Australian identity through his music. He’s become one of Australia’s most influential Hip Hop artists, making powerful statements for equality and inclusion. He inspired the Sydney Kings basketball team to choose L-FRESH the Lion to pen and perform their team song, ‘We The Kings’. Inspired by his Sikh and Punjab roots, L-FRESH performed his debut single, ‘Born To Stand Out’ on the MTV Hussle (MTV India) stage for audiences across India. In the time since his ARIA nominated album, ‘BECOME’, was released in 2016, L-FRESH has taken his music to the world and addressed the United Nations in New York in late 2018. He was selected as an ambassador for YouTube’s creators for the Change Global Initiative with his resulting video ‘RACIST / Our World’ premiering at the Tribeca Festival in New York. The proud South West Sydney artist continues to break new ground with his music and has performed alongside Nas, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, and the legendary Sir Elton John. In 2020, L-FRESH released his third studio album, ‘SOUTH WEST’ – a love letter to the place that raised him – South West Sydney; a place that continues to inspire him. He dedicated the album to his 13-year- old self, a collection of lessons he wished he had learnt as a kid on how to be confident and hold pride in your culture. “I’ve shared my experiences and stories as a second-generation migrant kid existing between two cultures and the ongoing effects of Australia’s inherently racist culture. The album is a personal take on the process of decolonisation; it’s both a listening and political experience.”
L-FRESH is unrelenting in his work for the community, helping the vulnerable, supporting and fighting for refugee rights and assisting migrants settling in the community. He is a strong and passionate advocate for human rights and equality.
The KIZUNA (Japanese meaning ties that bind us or bond between us) Installation - a Hills Hoist ( an iconic Australian symbol) featuring photos of people sent in from across Australia and abroad; represents our diversity, celebrating our differences and acknowledging our oneness as human beings. I wanted to celebrate and acknowledge our rich cultures in Australia coming together to show the world that we can all live together and share our planet, peacefully.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet told me: “Where I go in the world I talk about how, as human beings, we are all the same, mentally, physically and emotionally. We all belong to one human family. We all want to be happy, and happiness is our right.”
This installation is about our connectedness and gains inspiration from a Japanese legend; the Red String of Fate which ties us together with an invisible red string which emanates from the ulnar artery to the little pinky and intertwines with the red strings of people we meet- connecting our heart to theirs.
These ties may be between couples, families, friends, diverse ethnic groups and applies to the heart connection based on strong trusting relationships. The individual photos I am exhibiting across Australia showcase KIZUNA but I am also creating KIZUNA between people who feature in the exhibition and visit our show with those threads so that together we have strong positive ties to combat racism.
You can join us in this installation by sending us your photo and name for a credit to be included in the Installation and join us in our campaign to combat racism.
The KIZUNA installation ; Creators, Liz Deep-Jones and Izabella Deep-Jones
We Bleed The Same: National Coverage on SBS TV News
This Documentary, produced by Liz Deep-Jones, shares stories from people of varied backgrounds, race and religion, living in Australia, who are featured in the We Bleed the Same exhibition.
Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm