Women’s Iftar to raise money – EID, PRAY, LOVE


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“To fold the hands in prayer is good, to open them in charity is better”
The Holy Month of Ramadan is meant to be a charitable one- a time for soul searching, sacrifice and service. As Muslims break their fast, it is a time for them to reflect on those who are less fortunate and be grateful for all that they are blessed with.

In the spirit of Ramadan, the spirit of giving and goodwill, close to 200 women from various communities and cultures united for a charitable cause on Friday 4 July. The event showcased the diversity of the women who were bound by the dedication to make a difference – to raise money for Eid presents for women and their children at a refuge run by the Muslim Women Association. It was a beautiful display of multiculturalism as Muslim and non-Muslim women packed the hall to capacity at Himalaya Restaurant in Granville.

Aisha Amjad who organised the event through the Office of Senator Sam Dastyari said: “There is nothing more powerful than women helping women, and when they do with such solidarity, amazing things start to happen. Small ripples become miracles which flow forth, spreading more goodness and lifting others on the way.”

The event was hosted by the Hon. Michelle Rowland MP, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism who spoke about the importance of Ramadan, as well as the importance of women from all cultures to attend events like these and celebrate together.

Michelle also introduced the Chief Guest, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Tanya was impressive and her remarks invaluable, as every single woman in the room was moved by her down to earth nature, her warm personality and the stories she shared of women victims of family violence she had met during her time as Minister for Health, and Minister for Women. The women from the refuge were in tears as Tanya personally met and spoke to them from the heart.

Another part of the evening which almost had all the women in tears, was a video put together by the Muslim Women Association which showed some of the women at the refuge, their activities, drawings and stories by their children, and how the MWA in its own way is trying to put some light, some energy and some positivity back into their lives.

Maha Abdo, the Executive Officer and Joumana the President of MWA and their whole entire team are doing a fantastic and admirable job for these women, even though they are facing funding cuts.

Maha said on the night: “these women are the strength of our community, not our weakness, and it is up to us to be there for them in every possible way.”

Other special guests on the night were Sophie Cotsis MLC (Shadow Minister for Local Government, Housing and the Status of Women), Barbara Perry MP (Shadow Minister for Ageing, Disability Services, Mental Health and Heritage), Helen Westwood MLC, and Councillor Julia Finn.Sophie Cotsis spoke about her recent trip to the MWA with the Leader of the Opposition John Robertson, Deputy Leader Linda Burney and also Helen Westwood.

She also spoke about how disgraceful it is that the NSW Liberal Government has been cutting funding to Women’s refuges with some of them forced to close down.

The other special guests who made a big effort to be there were Elizabeth Scully (Chair of NSW Labor Women’s Forum), and Kaila Murnain (Assistant General Secretary of NSW Labor).

Kaila gave an uplifting speech when she said that the whole evening was a great example of the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day which is “inspiring change.” She said “I want each and every one of you to keep inspiring change in each othe rand your communities, and you can start by turning your head, introducing yourselves to the fantastic women next to you and start a conversation about how each of you will inspire change!”

Elaine Roach from Spark Homes donated a number of mobile phones for the women at the refuge, and Alison McLaren donated some toys for the children. MWA also gave gift bags, and sweets on the night to all the guests.

There were many women who came to the event, but donated extra money on the night. There were also many women who heard about the event, but couldn’t make it and still donated generously. More than $5,000 was raised to help make Eid this year a special one for the women and children at the refuge. Congratulations to all the women who helped make this event a success.

Clamping down on Parents
Government betrays migrant families
Recently the Abbott Government voted down Labor’s disallowance motion to save the Non-contributory Parental visa and Other Family visa category.

In a continuation of the Liberal’s unfair and cruel Budget all Liberal members of Parliament, including Craig Laundy, Nickolas Varvaris, David Coleman and John Alexander, voted down Labor’s move to save these family visa categories.

Ever since the release of the Budget and the startling news that the Federal Coalition had moved to abolish these family visas, Labor has voiced its grave concerns and said that this move will close the door on low and middle-income earners ever bringing their parents to Australia.

The non-contributory parent visa allows a sponsor to apply for their parent to come to Australia. The sponsor is required to have lived in Australia lawfully for two years and must be able to supply a small bond to be refunded after the parent has lived in Australia for two years.

This visa category allowed some 2,150 people to be reunited with their immediate family in 2012-13. At very low cost, it gives hardworking migrants the hope and opportunity for their parents to one day join them in Australia.

There can be up to a 13-year wait for this visa to be granted. However, for many low and middle-income families it is the only way to have their parents join them in Australia. It opens a pathway for these people. Without this visa category the only other option for migrants’ parents to come to Australia is through the contributory visa category.

The contributory parent visa category can reportedly cost up to $120,000. The vast majority of people who would be applying for the non-contributory category would not have a spare $120,000 lying around.

The government is completely out of touch if they expect these people to pay for this alternative. These sponsors are hardworking people who are already paying their bills and taxes.

The Abbott Government has callously closed the door on family visas, abandoning ethnic families and communities across Australia, especially in Sydney. This is a cruel move by a Government that is completely out of touch with migrant communities.

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