SSI News Blog

Diversity and inclusion were at the heart of SSI’s recent collaboration with a colourful celebration of the culture of Iraq.

The second annual Iraqi Cultural Festival, running from May to September, is brought about by a group of artists, cultural leaders and volunteers from the diverse sections of the Iraqi community in Sydney.

A collage of images from the Iraqi Cultural Festival, featuring a musician, artist and panel.
The event featured music, food and inclusive arts.

Last month the Iraqi Australian University Graduate Forum (IAUGF) partnered with SSI’s Arts and Culture program, Ability Links and CORE Multicultural Communities to develop, run and promote an inclusive arts event in Fairfield City Museum.

Refugee musician Sinan Bayood played the oud during session breaks, and catering was provided by Onsam Catering, a business supported by SSI’s IgniteAbility Small Business Start-ups, which facilitates business creation for people with disability.

The event saw people with disabilities from the Iraqi community facilitate drawing, flower making and etching workshops.

A panel discussion run by the workshop facilitators provided an insight into the individual and collective benefits of making cultural events accessible and inclusive for all in the Iraqi community.

SSI’s Arts and Culture representative Joseph Quilter, Ability Linker Zaidoon Abdul Rassak and Disability Inclusion Officer Javier Ortiz joined the panel and discussed how art could be used as a vehicle for creating a more inclusive society and as a powerful tool for social cohesion.

The Iraqi Australian University Graduate Forum is an active agent of inclusion, aiming to promote social cohesion and mutual understanding among different Iraqi ethnic and religious groups through arts and cultural activities.

The accessible arts workshops have added a layer to the forum’s valuable work, including people of different abilities as valued members of the Iraqi community.

The success of the event is a great example of a grassroots community organisation being supported by larger organisations while leading the way towards a more diverse and inclusive society and adding to the cultural fabric of a community.

Click here for a slideshow of the day.

Success stories

Hameed's Story

Hameed studying with a tutor.

My name is Hameed Cina. My life in Australia today is the life of a normal citizen, ordinary by any standard. I’m married, I have two young daughters and I have a good job that I love. I also volunteer a lot of my free time for my community. But the way in which I arrived at this point in my life was definitely not ordinary.

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