Sharing a moment from the lives of real women. A moment used to uncover their personal values and beliefs.
It’s about encouraging a respect for women, and a solidarity among women; the dignity and validation that comes from having an audience, albeit invisible, bearing witness to the story you tell; creating a moment of shared understanding of emotion between very different kinds of people. It’s Michel Foucault’s truth effect. That's why CSP talks to Aboriginal women, Muslim women, environmental activists, neuroqueer and queer mothers, women married to each other, old women, young girls. Any woman you see, any person you see, has a story, if you can be quiet long enough to listen.
This is a story about finding the right religion.
Sirisha respects all faiths and non-faiths. However, the religion of her childhood, Hinduism, did not resonate with her anymore and she embarked on a journey to find the core values in her life.
“I needed something to ground me.”
The religion she found was Islam.
“It really made me a better person”
She started to value the so-called little things of life, “the little blessings that I have in my life, clean water, and the people that I have and the relationships that I hold.”
Becoming a Muslim has come at a cost. Sirisha lost friendships. She is frequently expected to justify her choice and encounters the hostility which routinely meets Muslims in Sydney.
Sirisha also has the ongoing internal struggle to separate her religion from the people who claim to represent Islam and use it as an excuse to commit heinous acts of violence.
“You’re constantly dealing with a lot of grief.”
Sirisha uses the teachings of Islam to centre herself.
“The way you find hope is stick to why you chose that path in the first place.”
Sirisha examines her conscience daily, holding herself to a very high standard.
“What are you doing? How are you responding to your own self? It’s constantly a struggle with yourself really.”
Contributing to society, in small ways and large, is extremely important to Sirisha, from the relatively small acts of smiling at people, to larger projects of working to alleviate poverty.
This is important to her because it is central to her personal value system. It is also important because, in a climate where Muslim and non-Muslim appear increasingly polarised, it is necessary work to demonstrate that the majority of Muslims are good, hard working people, who follow the teachings of their faith and are a positive force in the society in which they live.
As Sirisha concludes, being part of the society that you grew up in is important.
"Even if you change something personal about you, that shouldn’t really change who you are."
MC Free, a remarkable young woman from a Cook Island/Tongan background, works for Rap 4 Change, a hip hop outreach educational program in the outer western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. She works with all sorts of kids – disabled, transgender, diverse cultural backgrounds, both in the community and in juvenile detention. Her personal background, of abuse and living on the streets, gives her common ground to reach out to these kids. Free's passion in life is helping them discover their worth.
Briannon is an autistic parent of three autistic children. Several years ago and before Briannon knew she was autistic, she was shamed by a work colleague for “that weird thing” she does with her hands. Recently, her six-year old child has started hand flapping. This story is about the joy and pride of being autistic.
Lee is the daughter of the Australian realist artist, Nutter Buzacott (1905-1976). This year, Lee curated an exhibition of her father’s work in the Lismore Regional Gallery. In this interview, Lee talks about her father’s art and her relationship with that art. A former communist and a humanist, the impression that is left is of a man who closely observed people and landscapes, and cared deeply for what he observed.
"His art allows the viewer to see something of people’s real life. And I think that’s worth looking at.
Those people, in my father’s art, are not going to change the world. They’re ordinary people, in ordinary clothes, making a contribution... What are they hoping to get out of life? I’d just like us to wonder about them."