The inspirational stories of people working in one of the world’s most diverse workplaces can be found in a new publication called Voices of Diversity.
Voices of Diversity traces the journeys of 14 migrants now working in Western Australia’s public sector and is a joint project of the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests and the Office of Equal Opportunity Employment.
Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Rob Johnson said Voices of Diversity provided a unique insight into the experiences of migrants in the workplace.
“Many State public sector employees were born overseas and their contributions highlight the importance of this sector as an equal opportunity employer able to support difference and promote diverse management practices,” Mr Johnson said.
“Specifically, these authors provide inspiration for dealing with obstacles, relay positive experiences and offer suggestions to new recruits who may find themselves in similar positions.”
One of the employees, West Leederville’s Kamala Navaraj, has found success as a social worker with the Department of Family and Children’s Services.
Born in Bangkok, her maternal grandfather was an Arab Sheikh and her maternal grandmother a Thai/Chinese Muslim.
“My father was an Indian Hindu and my mother a Muslim - an issue that remained a point of conflict between the two families,” Ms Navaraj said.
“My father was an accountant while my mother was a university lecturer. She was born in 1920 when women generally did not go to university, let alone work. She challenged the unspoken values and expectations of women.
“My father was also a strong influence. He was an outspoken person, with a strong sense of social justice; he spoke out against racism and fighting for rights of Indians living in Thailand.”
Ms Navaraj came to Australia following her father’s death and she and her sister went to school in New South Wales.
“The first thing I remember about Australia was seeing so many white faces,” Ms Navaraj said.
“We were among the first Asians to board at the school. People stared at us. I felt like we were on show.”
Despite a rocky start, things improved and Ms Navaraj now says she enjoys her work and has benefited from the positive impact of supportive colleagues and friends.
She said people needed to motivate themselves to achieve.
“Work is hard and not always rewarding,” Ms Navaraj said.
“People need to have an ideal that they strive for and not just keep working even when they are ‘burnt out’. You need to be able to give in this sort of work and it is very demanding.”
Voices of Diversity features the stories of migrants from Canada, China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Copies are available from State Government agency libraries or by calling Public Affairs at the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests on 9426 8690.
Media contact: Fran Hodge (08) 9215 4800