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Bonding over food and migrant stories in Australia

Bonding over food and migrant stories in Australia

UN Human Rights, together with the social impact communications agency LoveFrankie, launched a new initiative in Australia that uses the universal bonding powers of food and storytelling to promote inclusion of migrants.

MyGreat Story is a new project featuring a four-part video series produced by Content Originals in Sydney, which captures Australians sharing stories of migration while they cook and eat together. The series shows how food can bring communities together and how everyone is made of the same ingredients.

The initiative is part of UN Human Right’s #StandUp4Migrants campaign, which advocates telling a new story of migration through sharing stories of hope and shared values.

"If you want to learn about someone's culture, you eat their food and you learn so much more … there is no better catalyst," said Alvin Quah, a chef who moved from Malaysia to Melbourne to work on his PHD in science and was a finalist in MasterChef Australia in 2010.

Quah is featured in a MyGreat Story video with L-FRESH The Lion, a Sikh hip-hop artist, cooking and sharing their experiences as migrants in Australia.

L-FRESH The LION and Alvin Quah

A Malaysian MasterChef contestant and a Sikh hip-hop artist walk into a kitchen. L-FRESH The LION and Alvin Quah are worlds apart, but they share a  journey to embracing their heritage in a multicultural Australia.

Our communities are stronger when we support everyone

The series aims to replace narratives of fear, division and exclusion of migrants with those of hope and inclusion by creating common ground across cultures and bringing Australians together to discuss their migration experiences and shared Australian values.

"Our research has shown how most people in Australia agree that we have much more in common than what divides us. Australians have a strong interest in our shared human story," said Pia Oberoi, UN Human Rights Senior Advisor on Migration and Human Rights for the Asia Pacific. "We want to highlight this fact because it is a powerful catalyst for building an inclusive future for everyone in Australia no matter where they are from or what they look like.”

According to research commissioned by UN Human Rights, more than two thirds of Australians would be willing to welcome someone from another country into their neighbourhood and more than 75% of Australians agree that communities are stronger when everyone has support.

While 45% of Australians are concerned about the burden that might be placed by migrants on Australia’s welfare system, at the same time some 60% have said that people from other countries contribute positively to Australia’s economy and society, according to UN Human Rights.

Over half would welcome migrants into Australia who were unable to access education, healthcare, or decent work in their home country, with nearly three-quarters of Australians saying that shared stories of the struggles that migrants face make them ‘more supportive’ of migration, according to UN Human Rights.

“Migration is a complex issue which touches many aspects of our communities,” said Oberoi. “At the same time, our research reveals that Australians strongly believe migration is an integral part of Australia’s story. This should be our starting point for making effective, rights-based migration policy.”

The video series features eight popular Australians across the fields of sports, fashion, food, art, and culture, including artist Emmanuel Asante, hip hop artist and producer Sukhdeep Bhogal (LFresh), chef Alvin Quah, pro surfer Ace Buchan, fashion designer Gary Bigeni, and musicians Lara Andallo, A Girl and Charlie Collins. Together they represent the diverse migrant community in Australia from Ghanaian, Filipino, Indian, Malaysian, South African, Maltese, Polynesian, and Indian backgrounds.

L-FRESH The LION and Alvin Quah

Musicians A Girl and Charlie cooked meatball curry together while sharing their love for music and talked about what migrants bring to the table.

“Food makes you feel good — it fills your belly up, you have conversations,” said Australian musician, A Girl. “You sit at the table, you eat, you laugh, you love, you share.”


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