Hi MDA readers, 

In our May newsletter, we put a timely spotlight on the CEO of the Centre of Multicultural Political Engagement, Literacy, and Leadership (COMPELL), Tharini Rowette, and unpack how media and political diversity is inter-related. Prominent lawyer, Maker Mayek joins the MDA Advisory Board. Register NOW for the upcoming Reporting on China panel event moderated by Stan Grant. Our Amplifying Voices 2022 media training program commenced last Saturday, May 14. You can view sessions 1 and 2 updates and you can also hear from our Political fellows at the Canberra press gallery. And finally, book now to attend our co-founder Antoinette Lattouf’s ‘How To Lose Friends and Influence White People’ book events in Melbourne and Brisbane.

In this issue:

  • Spotlight on: Tharini Rouwette, CEO of Centre of Multicultural Political Engagement, Literacy, and Leadership – media and political diversity
  • Board Update: Maker Mayek joins MDA Advisory board
  • Reporting on China Panel: RSVP Now!
  • Amplifying Voices 2022 Media training: Snaps from our workshops
  • Federal Election Political Fellowship: Update on our Fellows
  • “How To Lose Friends and Influence White People” by Antoinette Lattouf: Brisbane & Melbourne book events 

Spotlight On: Tharini Rouwette, CEO of Centre Of Multicultural Political Engagement, Literacy, and Leadership COMPELL

Tharini Rouwette
Our parliament is not representative of multicultural Australia, hence why we need diversity in parliament and also to normalise people of colour in leadership role
-Tharini Rouwette, CEO of COMPELL

We’ve seen an extraordinary influx of First Nations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) first time federal candidates elected in this year’s federal election. These candidates have secured victories not only for their electorates and states but for their broader communities who will now see themselves reflected in Australian politics like never before. We know that diversity within the political sphere is a positive step in the right direction to encourage similar diversity within our media ranks.We put a timely spotlight on Tharini Rouwette who is seeking to diversify Australian politics.  

You are the CEO and founder of COMPELL’s (Colour and Centre Of Multicultural Political Engagement, Literacy, and Leadership) parent company, ‘Allies in Colour’, an organisation dedicated to advancing multicultural Australia in jobs, business, and politics. Why did you form Allies in Colour and COMPELL?

Over the last decade, prior to forming my organisation, I volunteered my time and energy campaigning on various issues impacting marginalised communities. Impacting a small group of people was no longer satisfactory for me and I wanted to do something big that would positively impact the lives of bigger groups of marginalised communities in Australia. This is why I formed Allies in Colour and COMPELL.

At a professional level, I hail from a strong media and tech background having worked in a digital media capacity with companies such as Amazon, Adobe, Singtel/Optus and Google. At a personal level, I used my skills to campaign for political parties and grassroot organisations across Singapore, US and Australia. As an experienced political campaigner, I have worked on campaigns the likes of Bernie Sanders’ in America where I managed a 500-strong volunteer team to campaign for the 2020 presidential candidate all the way from Australia.

You have collated data about the cultural diversity of Australia’s Parliamentarians. Why is it imperative that we see more diversity in the Australian parliament?

Our parliament is not representative of multicultural Australia, hence why we need diversity in parliament and also to normalise people of colour in leadership roles. There’s about 4% of people of colour in parliament today (prior to the recent Federal election) which is hardly reflective of the Australian population that is increasingly becoming multicultural. The information collected, together with my follow-up surveys/interviews will hopefully be the beginning of a long journey towards collecting information that will inform us as to what we need to do to get more people of colour elected in government. 

As a daughter of migrants and coming from a multicultural background, I’m always identifying ways to improve outcomes for multicultural Australia through brave and innovative ideas.

Do you think that media diversity impacts political diversity?

I’ve got no doubt that there’s a significant relationship between lack of media diversity and lack of representation in politics. For instance,  the lack of Australian Chinese candidates running in this federal election could potentially be directly related to the anti- Chinese sentiment perpetuated by influential, non-diverse journalists/political commentators, towards the Australian Chinese community. 

New Advisory Board Member, Maker Mayek

A big congratulations to prominent lawyer, Maker Mayek on joining MDA’s Advisory Board alongside Stan GrantWaleed Aly, Director of Indigenous Content at SBS Tanya Denning Orman, former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim SoutphommasaneHugh Riminton, academic Monica Attard, distinguished lawyer Katrina Rathie, CEO of MultiConnexions Sheba Nandkeolyar and philanthropist Talal Yassine.

Maker is a practicing lawyer, enrolled in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and High Court of Australia, and a passionate community advocate.  Currently, he is the Principal Solicitor and Director of Mayek Legal, Barristers & Solicitors and a board member of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils’ of Australia, and the Chair of its New and Emerging Communities committee. 

He was a former board member of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria; and a former editor and board member of the Journal of Politics and Law, an international journal dedicated to promoting academic exchange in the field of politics and law. Mayek was also a recipient of the 2020 Victorian Government’s African Board and Governance Scholarship. 

For more information on our Advisory Board visit MDA’s website- https://www.mediadiversityaustralia.org/about/advisory-board/

Reporting on China Panel: RSVP Now!

Reporting On China Panel Event

Without Fear or Favour: how Chinese Australian journalists can cover China safely and fairly – Panel event hosted by Stan Grant. 

China’s geopolitics, human rights record, COVID-19 handling and perceived influence on Australia are dominant news topics. Journalists and media commentators, particularly those of Chinese heritage, often fear repercussions from Chinese authorities or their supporters. Newsrooms also often struggle with balance and nuance, such as the very different opinions and culture of their Chinese audiences – at least those that are engaged with mainstream news. 

The resulting self-censorship, limited contacts and cultural understanding affects reporting quality. This then shapes the engagement by the Chinese community with Australian media – and Australia as a whole. 

Media Diversity Australia in partnership with the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council, NEMBC are excited to present Without fear or favour: Challenges of reporting on China. This is a must-attend event for any watcher of China, its relationship with Australia,  balance, and multiculturalism. 

The panelists include Mandi Wicks (News Director, SBS), Jennifer Hsu (Research Fellow, Lowy Institute), Echo Hui (Investigative Journalist, ABC), and Songfa Liu (NEMBC member & President ICMS). 

Want to attend this event on Monday, 30th May 2022?

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/without-fear-or-favour-challenges-of-reporting-on-china-registration-331576192317 

Amplifying Voices 2022 Media training: Snaps from our workshops

Amplifying Voices Session 1
The Amplifying Voices media training provides participants with direct access to invaluable and unique insights from industry insiders that have decades of experience. Most critically, the facilitators understand the unique issues that come with media reporting and representation of people from culturally and religiously diverse backgrounds.” 
– Ahmed Kilani, Muslim Chaplain
Department of Justice NSW

Established in 2021, Amplifying Voices is a media training program designed for diverse leaders in Australian communities; young people, women, and people from diverse and ethnic backgrounds. This year’s program is focused on building the capacity of delegates from the Australian Muslim community to engage with traditional Australian media, and enhance their skills as media spokespeople. 

The program includes a series of workshops which empower delegates with the knowledge and practical skills they need to be impactful representatives in, and for, their community.

Project Manager, Dania Roumieh says that “Amplifying Voices has provided an enriching opportunity to individuals of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities who have a strong interest in diversifying our Australian media. After our first session, our selected participants had really positive feedback about the sessions and loved being able to meet and engage with  an elite group of industry insiders. “

The first session of Amplifying Voices 2022 was held on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at the Judith Neilson Institute with 20 participants present. 

Amplifying Voices 2022, Session 1: The News Process

Walking the tightrope: Being a Muslim media commentator, presented by MDA CEO, Mariam Veiszadeh 

Legal Training presented by professional media lawyer, Lesley Power, offering tips and informative pointers on topics surrounding defamation and libel.

A Day In the Life of a Reporter panel moderated by MDA’s Director of Special Projects, Simone Amelia Jordan. The panellists included Rayane Tamer, SBS News Digital Journalist; Emily Feszcuk, Journalist at The Western Weekender and Daniel Sutton, Senior Journalist with Network 10. 

Amplifying Voices Session 2

Amplifying Voices 2022, Session 2: Islam and The Media

The second session of Amplifying Voices 2022 was held on Saturday, May 21, 2022 at the Judith Neilson Institute with 20 participants present. 

What The Data Tells Us presented by Stijn Denayer, CEO of All Together Now

Is Islam Misrepresented, Or Does Islam Misrepresent Itself? Presented by Mariam Veiszadeh, CEO of MDA 

How Religious Leaders Respond panel moderated by MDA’s CEO and community leader, Mariam Veiszadeh. The panellists included Maha Abdo, CEO of Muslims Womens Association; Ahmed Kilani, Muslim Chaplain and Sheikh Wesam Charkawi, Abu Hanifa Institute. 

Follow Media Diversity Australia on Twitter and Instagram for live updates on the upcoming Amplifying Voices 2022 sessions.

Federal Election Political Fellowship: Update on our Fellows

Federal Election Political Fellowships

Huge congratulations to all first time federal candidates from First Nations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds who have secured victories this election👏🏽

Follow MDA as we seek to do the same for Australian media!

Our Federal Election Political 2022 Fellows have successfully completed their fellowships! We are so proud of them. We hope the MDA political fellowship program becomes a regular fixture and helps pave a way for political reporting to become as diverse as the people who consume it.

Let’s hear from our political fellows, Katherine Wong (Sydney Morning Herald), Khaled Al Khawaldeh (The Guardian) and Famida Rahman (AAP). 

Why is it important to diversify the Press Gallery?

Katherine Wong- The Canberra Press Gallery is the main stage for journalists to question politicians on issues that matter to their constituents. As electorates across Australia become more culturally and linguistically diverse, we need diverse journalists in the Press Gallery to platform the concerns of diverse Australians. 

Khaled Al Khawaldeh- Like everything in life, politics is observed and relayed to audiences through the lens of the observer. The observer in this case is the press gallery journo and the lens is their world view as dictated by their upbringing, surroundings and experiences. By only having people with very similar lenses in the press gallery we risk the chance of missing vital angles and stories and we reduce the nuance of our national dialogue.

Famida Rahman- It is important to diversify the Canberra Press Gallery to capture broader perspectives in the coverage of Australian Federal politics. As diversity and multiculturalism continues to grow in Australia, it is important for it to be reflected and represented in an institution that plays an essential role in Australian democracy. 

Which Australian political journalist do you admire?

Katherine Wong- I admire Amy Remeikis for her passion and tenacity. Her coverage of women’s issues was groundbreaking, thorough, and has had an immense impact on Australian politics. 

Khaled Al Khawaldeh- Katherine Murphy, I admire her writing style greatly, the ability to be scathing and charming at the same time. I also think she has a real grip on the issues and is fearless in talking about them.

Famida Rahman- I really admire the accuracy and objectivity with which Katharine Murphy from the Guardian.As a journalist with over 2 decades of experience in the Canberra Press Gallery, and a background in the Australian Public Service, I have a great deal of respect for her work. 

What does Media Diversity Australia’s mission mean to you?

Katherine Wong- Media Diversity Australia’s mission means improving representation in news media so all Australians feel seen and heard. It allows diverse journalists to air their communities’ concerns, highlight their wins, and show off their cultures. It means pulling the Australian media space into the modern day, and forcing it to acknowledge the people it once ignored and undermined.

Khaled Al Khawaldeh- It means a chance to change Australia for the better. To move the country beyond its entrenched colonial mindset by facilitating a new national

 image of what it means to be Australian.

Famida Rahman- Navigating the academic and professional world as a young person from a culturally diverse background can be challenging. Media Diversity Australia and its mission has given me the opportunity to continue exploring who I am and where I fit professionally, in a way that embraces and celebrates my background.

For more information on our political fellows and regular updates on the Federal Election Political Fellowship follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin

“How To Lose Friends and Influence White People” by Antoinette Lattouf: Brisbane & Melbourne book launch events

“How To Lose Friends and Influence White People” Book launch events

Award-winning journalist and MDA Co-founder Antoinette Lattouf’s debut book ‘How to Lose Friends and Influence White People’ puts a microscope to the actions of those in a position of influence and holds them accountable while examining what happens to those that dare to challenge white institutions of power. 

Lattouf cares deeply about being part of the solution to this problem, and uses warmth, humour, and research to provide evidence-based and practical solutions that can be put into practice by anyone – from a seasoned academic who is a person of colour, through to a suburban white teenage girl.

Attend Antoinette Lattouf’s upcoming book events: 
  • Antoinette Lattouf in conversation with Indigenous media personality Shelley Ware and comedian Nazeem Hussain in Melbourne on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at 6:30pm. Location: Readings, Hawthorn (Melbourne).

Book here: https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing?eid=889479& 

  • Antoinette Lattouf in conversation Indigenous lawyer Eddie Synot and Seven news presenter Katrina Blowers in Brisbane on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 6:30pm. Location: Avid Reader, West End (Brisbane).

Book here: https://avidreader.com.au/events/antoinette-lattouf-how-to-lose-friends-and-influence-white-people 

Purchase the book here:

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About us

Media Diversity Australia (MDA) is a national not-for-profit organisation led by journalists and media professionals. Australia is culturally and linguistically diverse, and our media should be too. Established in 2017, MDA has a unique role as a champion of cultural diversity in Australian journalism and news media. We have a vision for a media industry with full and equal participation for culturally diverse people at all levels.

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