Page 1

Volume 2, Issue 8

Quarterly Newsletter


Number One in Serving the Afghan community in Australia

Inside this issue: It is time for a fairer immigration policy for Afghans Women's Better World VRRR Award for Jawad Tutoring Program for Afghan students Introducing Gulzari


Ramadan, A time of celebration for Muslims

It is time for a fairer immigration policy for Afghans By Hamed Saberi The explosion on a boat loaded with Afghan asylum seekers off Australia's Ashmore Reef on the 16th April 09 in which five people were killed and more than thirty others were injured did reignite issues over Australia's asylumseeker policy temporarily. It was the sixth asylum seekers boat intercepted by Australian navy this year and since half a dozen more vessels have arrived. This is perhaps enough to prompt the opposition party to claim that the Labor party's softening of its policy towards asylum seekers is encouraging people-smugglers. There are a few factors contributing to resumption of more boat people arriving in the past several months. The deterioration of situation in Afghanistan seems to play a significant role in the matter. Nearly eight years since the collapse of Taliban regime, Afghanistan is still one of the poorest countries in the world and the social and economic situation for the Afghan people has deteriorated mainly due to the global food crisis, and the persistence of drought as well as gross mismanagement and corruption in Kabul administration. More importantly the security situation in Afghanistan has worsened significantly despite the enhanced capabilities of both the Afghan National Army and the international forces. That is why most newly arrived Afghan asylum seekers claim to have been persecuted not only by the Taliban but also by the Pashtoon nomads as well as regional warlords and their proxies. The recent deployment of more than 200 extra troops to Afghanistan, announced by Prime Minister Kevin

Rudd seems to reinforce Australiaâ€&#x;s commitment to rebuild the war-torn nation. Not to mention that there are currently more than a thousand Australian troops in Afghanistan, mostly operating in the dangerous Oruzgan province in the country's south-central region. However, when it comes to the issue of the latest Afghan asylum seekers boat arrivals, is the issue of denial and neglect. While many people take refuge or migrate to Australia through proper channels, Afghans continue to be the biggest asylum seekering population who come to Australia by boat. To dub Afghan boat people as queue jumpers or illegal immigrants is not only simplistic and unfair, but also counterproductive in the debate around the global issue of people smuggling. As far as immigration procedures are concerned, Australia still refuses to have a mission in Afghanistan, which in turn forces Afghan national to lodge their application in neighbouring countries. It is also worth mentioning that the number of Afghan nationals coming to Australia every year through skilled migration, business visa, student visa or other similar programs are small, leaving refugee and humanitarian visas as the only realistic

opportunity of migrating to Australia for them. However, this opportunity does not seem that real either when it is acknowledged that most applications, even the genuinely deserving ones get knocked back without even a proper explanation. Although several Australian soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan so far, the Australian government seems to be persistic in its commitment to assist Afghanistan. The sacrifice and courage of Australian soldiers, as well as the generosity and compassion of the Australian governments in welcoming the Afghan boat arrivals is to be admired. It is believed however, that far greater diplomatic efforts ought to be provided to facilitate migrating Afghan nationals to Australia though mainstream migration programs such as skilled migration and less complicated visa categories such as working holiday visas. Many years ago Afghans made a substantial contribution to Australia and much of the development of the outback would have been very difficult, if not impossible without them. It is time for Australia to reflect on Afghansâ€&#x; great place in Australian history by simply allowing more Afghans to migrate and settle here.

“Empowering women is empowering the world”. With this motto Mandy Ahmadi our volunteer coordinator has recently started free classes for Afghan women living in the Greater City of Dandenong and Casey. The classes teach Makeup and Fashion in a comfortable and private setting filled with encouragement, (hours of fun promised!) and also include light refreshments. It‟s all about professional makeovers for these special women and these classes are offered

By Zamera Shariffie

The Deputy Premier Rob Hills officially added 21 individuals on the 17th of June to the VRRR during the Refugee Week 2009, and among them was our Art coordinator, Jawad Alizada along with the other two Afghans, Farahnaz Zamani and Nida Hussani. The VRRR is an award that officially recognises the tremendous contribution that refugees have made to their own communities and to the State of Victoria. It was a great opportunity for all of Victoria to celebrate and document the diverse contributions that refugees have made.

Jawad arrived in Australia by boat in 2000 as a refugee from Afghanistan. He has encountered, like many other Afghans the hardship of life under the Taliban regime. Under the dictatorship of the Taliban, a wide variety of activities such as music, television, movie and art were prohibited, and any-

Page 2

once a month. During the class Mandy will do each womens hair and makeup, and will also take a glamour photograph if desired. All of her services are free of charge to all who attend. Mandy believes that “the goal is to encourage them (afghan women) to feel good about themselves on the inside and out, because a positive self image affects the way we project ourselves to others and makes us more productive.”

one that did not obey the Taliban’s tyranny was shot dead. The main targets were those who had careers in these fields as the Taliban thought that they were practicing professions which had the devils characteristics.

Additionally, all students will receive practical and theoretical training by Mandy who is a professional female hairdresser. However, no certificate will be presented, but the class and teaching itself will have a positive effect on those who attend and their families. If you are interested please feel free to contact Mandy on 0433 626 855.

community and the state of Victoria. This is the third consecutive year in which a member of our management committee has received the VRRR Award. (Arif Fayazi 2007, Zabi Mazoori 2008)

Under the Taliban dictatorship people were powerless to stand up for their rights. The Taliban are also extremely strict and “anti-modern”. Since 2000, Jawad has been living in Australia and serving the Afghan community. After fleeing the dictatorship of the Taliban regime, Jawad successfully managed to establish an Afghan Art group named “Nawin Art”. The Nawin Art group mainly consists of Afghan teenagers. Nawin Art group has significantly contributed to the promotion and conservation of Afghan art culture within Victoria.

The VRRR has presented this award to all refugees who have made contributions to their


Tutoring Program for Afghan students Abbas and Shoaib were born in Afghanistan. Due to the war, they were unable to finish their studies in Afghanistan so they moved to Pakistan. In Pakistan they met each other for the first time and became friends at their new School, during 2002. At school they excelled in their studies and were able to also help their classmates with their studies as well.

an Afghan background also joined them to help with other subjects. The tutoring program is considered extremely helpful for Afghan students because they usually find it difficult to cope with high school studies due to their disadvantaged educational background.

A few years ago both Abbas and Shoaib moved to Australia with their families. Initially, they settled in different cities but by chance met each other again at the Hazaragi Event in the year 2007. When they had both finished VCE, they decided to open start an Educational Institution in Melbourne under the name of “Australian Hazara University Student Union”. This institute would offer free tutoring in all types of mathematics, chemistry, physics, and accounting from years 9 to 12, in both Dari and English. Later on, some other University students with

When Abbas and Shoaib presented their ideas of this new tutoring program to the management committee of the Association of Hazaras, Victoria they received overwhelming support. Every one on the management committee was behind the idea because they could see their feelings and determination, to assist Afghan youth with their educational needs. Every Saturday afternoon, the association‟s community centre in Springvale hosted this much needed tutoring program which also receives enormous support and well wishes from both students and their parents.

After operating for a couple of months the number of students has grown rapidly and the decision has been made to relocate the tutoring program to a bigger place. The South Eastern Migrant Resource Centre in Dandenong will be the new location for this wonderful work. The tutoring program has been a huge success and is now seeing more and more high school students from an Afghan background enjoy the educational support they desperately need.

Introducing John Gulzari John Gulzari came to Australia as a refugee in 1999 and could not speak, read or write English. After some time John moved from Brisbane to Greater Dandenong to pursue a job opportunity, after which he fell in love with the area and has been living here in Greater Dandenong ever since. His love and passion has always been in real estate and he bought his first property in his 20‟s. John is an astute property investor now with a substantial investment portfolio. Eentrepreneur and “business minded” he started his first business venture with „A Driving School‟ back in 2001. When our association started running the TAC funded “Time in Traffic” project, John was one of the first members of the Afghan community to

V O L U M E 2, I S S U E 8

volunteer. With his previous background as a driving instructor John has been a great help to the program. But it was not the first time that John put up his hand to help the community. In the past 9 years, and despite his full-time job, study and family commitments, he has also been a volunteer Fire Fighter, First Aider, Fire Evacuator and OH&S representative and has enjoyed giving something back to the community.

management committee so that he will be able to assist his people even better. We wish John all the best.

Volunteering is not a familiar concept within the Afghan community, at least as its known here. That is why what John has been doing, on a voluntary basis is regarded as very significant and extraordinary. He is now standing for our associations mid term election in late September 09. John would like to become an official member of the

Page 3


The Association of Hazaras in Victoria is a not-for-profit organization established in April 2002 to assist Afghan refugees in Australia . The challenging and diverse work of the Association is carried out by a management committee of 11 members, elected biannually. Our organizational aims are:

22 Grace Park Avenue Springvale VIC 3171 PO Box 7268 Dandenong VIC 3175

 To assist Afghani refugees and migrants with their resettlement in Australia.  To bring the Afghan community together and promote their active participation in

Australia’s multicultural society.

Phone: 0421 180 637 E-mail:

 To support human rights, democratic freedoms and the rights of ethnic minorities in


Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar in which, according to the Koran, God proclaims that "fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you". Every day during the month of Ramadan Muslims around the world get up before dawn to eat Sahur (or Sahari), the pre-dawn meal, then performs the early Morning Prayer. They have to stop eating and drinking before the call for prayer starts in the morning until the evening prayer. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the evening prayer up until the next early morning's prayer call. Then the process starts all over again. Ramadan is a time of reflecting and worshiping God. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. Sexual thoughts and activities during fasting hours are also forbidden. Purity of both thought and action is important. The fast is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek to raise their awareness and closeness to God. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. Properly observing the fast is supposed to induce a comfortable

feeling of peace and calm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, self -control, sacrifice, and sympathy for those who are less fortunate. It is also intended to make Muslims more generous and charitable. The end of Ramadan is marked by the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr which is the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after the 29 or 30 days of fasting, as per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast and a special celebration is made. Like previous years the association of Hazaras in Victoria is going to organize a big event to provide the members of the Afghan community to come together at the end of the fasting period and celebrate Eid ul-Fitr. The event which has been sponsored by the Greater City of Dandenong and the Victorian Multicultural Commissions will be held on the last week of September. For further information please call the event coordinator Arif Hamdam on 0422 742 673.


addition 9


addition 9