Last week ITC sat down with Sarah* to discuss a recent incident in Lane Cove that left her feeling isolated and unwelcome in the Lane Cove Community.
Sarah, her husband, and children moved to Lane Cove from the Middle East about a year ago. Sarah is Muslim and wears a headscarf and modest clothing. Sarah and her husband chose to live in Lane Cove due to the good schools, clean streets and leafy environment. Her husband is a professional who works in the city (so Lane Cove is very convenient).
Recently Sarah was shopping in Lane Cove Plaza when she was stopped by another shopper who told her:
“It is too hot to wear these clothes… If you are going to live in Australia, you should wear like Australian people; Australian people don’t like to see this hijab. I’m telling you this on friendly bases.”
Sarah was taken aback that the above comments were made on behalf of all Australians.
The above incident unsettled Sarah, she now feels like people are staring at her because she wears a head scarf. Sarah recently met another Lane Cove resident (also a Muslim) who told her that she no longer wears her head scarf. She did not want to stand out. She feels people are treating her differently now that she has removed her head scarf.
Sarah stressed to ITC that she comes from a multicultural family and that her brothers have both married outside their faith. She has no problem with interacting with people who are not Muslim. Sarah also mentioned that she has been taking English Conversation classes at the LCM Church and they have made her feel welcome and accepted.
Sarah has excellent English language skills, she learnt English in high school (it was compulsory). She is looking for part time work in Lane Cove and she enjoys translating and editing. Sarah is also a professional (she met her husband when they were studying the same course). However like many professional women, she has decided to take a break from her career while her children are young.
According to the Lane Cove Council website:
“The Lane Cove Municipality is home to a vibrant and diverse community with over 20% of people coming from countries where English was not their first language and speak a language other than English at home.”
The 2011 Census revealed that there are 31 510 people living in the Lane Cove Council area and 10 297 of them were born overseas. Harmony Day is celebrated on 21 March each year in Lane Cove. It is a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home. A wide range of community events are held to celebrate Harmony Week and the week is actively promoted by the Lane Cove Council. The Lane Cove Council state on their website:
“The idea of Harmony Week is for residents to celebrate Lane Cove’s diverse and harmonious multicultural community, to recommit to the values of respect and goodwill towards our fellow Australians of all backgrounds, and to say no to racism.”
Next time you see Sarah or someone else wearing a headscarf, please make them feel welcome. Let them know that Lane Cove does in fact, say NO to racism. Let them know that Lane Cove does believe in a harmonious multicultural community 365 days a year.
By the way, if you’re new to Lane Cove and English is your second language, the LCM Church each Friday, during school terms, hold English Conversation classes where you improve your English skills in a friendly atmosphere with trained facilitators. The class does some combined activities after enjoying a chat over morning tea. They later break into smaller groups for more focused work. The students enjoy meeting each other and practice reading, speaking, listening and writing exercises at their own level on topics such as the Olympics, going to the doctors, shopping and much more.
The classes are on Fridays from 10am to midday at LCM Anglican church, just down from the Lane Cove post office. The classes cost $3, morning tea is provided and free childcare is available. Please bring a notebook, pen and a dictionary if you have one.
Any questions? Please email Katrina at [email protected] or leave a message at the church office on 9427 1163
*not her real name
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