This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the NEMBC Women’s Committee, a time to recognise the achievements of the NEMBC state representatives involved in multicultural and ethnic community broadcasting.
To mark this milestone a history of the NEMBC Women’s Committee has been created, and features a collection of audio stories from past women’s committee members and conveners.
Brenda Dehenhart, 5EBI
Women’s Committee Representative 1995 – 2003
Marta Adamczyk, Radio 4EB
Women’s Committee Representative 2003 – 2005
Marta Adamczyk with companion at 4EB 30 year Anniversary dinner.
Clockwise from front left: Teresa Gambaro MP, Irene Tavutavu 4EB, Saba Paramanathan 4EB, Tim Fischer, Michael Jozefowicz 4EB, Marta Adamczyk NEMBC Women’s Committee, Levale Lio 4EB.
Irene Tavutavu, Radio 4EB
Women’s Committee Representative 2005 – 2015
Irene first came to 4EB as a visitor in 1994 supporting a friend who was a broadcaster for the Fijian group. She occasionally read some of the news and helped record tapes to mini disc.
It was not long before the radio bug was caught and Irene joined the committee of the group and then trained to become a panel operator, completed her Cert 3 in Radio Production and began to do recording and interviewing.
Somehow along the way, radio became a bigger part of the weekend and soon Irene joined the Pacific Wave Crew and stepped in to relieve while the Convener of that program was away, supposedly for 3 months – but that was over 12 years ago!
Now Irene is the Convener of the Fijian Group and is involved in the production of four weekly programs covering World Music, Fijian Topics, the Pacific region, as well as Women’s Profile. She joined the Board of Directors in 2004 as Secretary and in 2005 she was nominated as the Queensland delegate for the NEMBC Women’s Committee. She’s still the Queensland delegate and has been Women’s Committee Convenor since 2011.
Faye Johnston, Radio 4EB
Women’s Committee Representative 1995 – 1997
Badihe Mohebbi, Radio 4EB
Women’s Committee Representative 1997 – 2003
Arrived in Australia as an immigrant 46 yrs ago with her husband. They were the first couple from Iran to arrive in Queensland.
After working as a nurse in both the Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Mater Hospital, she resigned and began work as a Community Development worker with refugees from Iran, Afghanistan and Kurdistan.
From 1986 she started broadcasting in the Farsi language with Radio 4EB Persian Program.
She was a member of the Board of Directors at 4EB from 1997 and nominated to be the Women’s Representative for Queensland for the NEMBC. She remained the Queensland rep for 6 years.
Due to heavy work commitments Badihe had to leave broadcasting, but continues to work in the community as a Community Development worker and member of the National Council of Women for Queensland, so she is still providing information for the Persian Program as well as other refugee communities.
Australian Capital Territory
Dr. Joëlle Vandermensbrugghe, 1CMS
Women’s Committee Representative 2005 – 2011
Dr. Joëlle Vandermensbrugghe has been involved with community broadcasting almost as long as she has been in Australia. In her professional life, she is an inherent part of the academic fabric of Canberra, working as Research Education Program Convenor in the Graduate Research & Researcher Development program at the University of Canberra. Joëlle’s job keeps her extremely busy and involves quite a lot of travelling overseas. In spite of this, and being a mum, she makes time for two different radio programs at CMS (Canberra’s Multicultural Service), the Belgian program and the Women’s program, ‘Yes She Can’. Joelle has been on the board of CMS off and on for many years. Currently, she is the Secretary on the CMS committee.
Marguerita Castro Carillo, 1CMS
Women’s Committee Representative 1999-2001
Marguerita has been in Australia for about 30 years and has been broadcasting in Spanish language for about 20 years along with her husband Ricardo. She is a wonderfully positive person who, in spite of her difficulties with the English language, has through determination and hard work, reached a laudable point in her life. Already holding a degree in Social Services, she is now completing her second degree and currently a student of the University of Canberra, studying Education. Her ultimate wish is to work in the area of children’s services, which stems from a sincere desire to be involved in giving children the best care and opportunities. She feels this responsibility deeply.
Diana Abdul Rahman
Women’s Committee Representative 1997-1999
Diana Abdul Rahman is one accomplished lady! It’s difficult to know where to start when one talks about her, but a good point would be to say that she is one of the small group that was instrumental in setting up a community radio station. The station in question is in fact, the only ethnic station in the ACT, Canberra’s Multicultural Service. Diana is of Lebanese background, but was born and bred in Australia. She is a staunch Muslim who decided to don the hijab a few years ago. She was somewhat apprehensive before doing this but found to her pleasant surprise that people started to get interested in who she was, what it all meant and so on. She has even run a radio program from her living room! Every year during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims around the world, Diana’s living room becomes a hub of broadcasting activity. The program in question is ‘Australian Muslim Voice’. Her presenters are a young group, mostly school children, as she feels it is imperative that young people be taught the skills necessary to turn them into successful broadcasters who are unafraid of not just facing the media but being the media.
Jiselle Hanna, 3CR
Women’s Committee Representative 2001 – 2005
Audio to come
How did you come to be a representative?
To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult. In Victoria, it seemed that the division of labour was that 3ZZZ would take the Vic representative position on the Executive, while 3CR, the part-time station would take the position on the various committees. This later changed with the emergence of The Pulse radio in Geelong. At the time, I just indicated that I was interested, and people supported me, so I got elected.
As the NEMBC became more important, the positions were a bit more hotly contested and eventually I lost an election, which is exactly how a democratic community organisation should function.
I enjoyed my time on the committee, and I am pleased that people now have to campaign for their positions, which forces people to make their vision clear.
What did you achieve during your time as a representative of your state?
Even though I was only the representative for Victoria, I thought that it was important to have a broader outlook than that. I felt then, and still do now, that it’s imperative for the more established stations in the eastern states to listen to other representatives about what is needed there.
When I was on the women’s committee, women in other states were crying out for content – women’s voices. So we produced a CD that captured women’s stories, mostly of migration, so that these could be broadcast across the country. It gave women broadcasters an idea about how to tell their own communities’ stories as well as giving people an opportunity to participate in a national project.
Additionally, I was in my early 20s when I was on the women’s committee – so I was also a
“youth”. This perspective was a necessary one because as people might know, the ethnic broadcasting community is an aging one. I was able to convey a marginalised perspective, that of young women in ethnic community broadcasting. If I achieved anything at all, it was to make people a little bit more comfortable hearing the rants and ravings of a young, brown, angry woman! Oh, and to say that we desperately want our voices to be heard, and we’re going to fight for that.
How did it benefit you as a woman in your community and particularly women in a broadcasting environment?
Well one thing I am confident about having achieved is to challenge the idea in many ethnic communities that it’s the man’s job to direct the narrative. The mere fact of a women’s committee says, our voices are marginalised, and now, women, together, are going to use our collective strength to try and turn this around.
That in itself benefitted the community of ethnic women vying for air time.
Are you still involved in community broadcasting/radio?
I commenced broadcasting at Community Radio 3CR in 1999 and yes, I am still going strong. In those 17 years I have probably produced and presented on over 10 programs. But my two “home” shows are Accent of Women and Asia Pacific Currents.
I couldn’t imagine life without preparing for one show or another on 3CR. Every week I am thinking about content, reading about what’s going on in the world and what matters to people, in order to represent those perspectives on my shows. I am always making contact with activists and leaders of grass roots movements across the world – particularly Asia. It’s such a privilege to be able to pick up the phone or send an email, and say, I am from the Community Broadcasting sector in Australia, and I want to tell your story – and to have people respond so enthusiastically and generously.
Yes, I could not imagine life without community radio.
Irena Strumbas, The Pulse
Women’s Committee Representative 2005 – 2011
Audio to come
How did you come to be an NEMBC representative of Victoria?
Well it started when the conference was held in Perth, in 2004, I connected with women who were on the committee at the time, they spotted me in my Lithuanian outfit as I had just received a refugee recognition award from the VMC in Victoria and we were all wearing our cultural outfits at the conference.
Then the conference came to Geelong, and I was just asked to actually present something at the conference in Geelong, and because Geelong was, you know – Diversitat – Geelong and 3zzz, were one of the sponsors – I was asked to present a talk of my involvement in radio.
I knew it was an election year, and they said I should stand for the Victorian rep and I did!.. So, that’s how it all came about. A vacancy came up for election, and I was elected.
Which was pretty amazing because nobody really knew me outside of Geelong – maybe it was my talk, perhaps, that people voted for me, so, that was it. I had a wonderful time from about 2006 – 2009, and yes, I had the most wonderful experiences.
What have you achieved during your time as the Victorian Rep?
The ‘creating harmony project’ to me was the pinnacle because I was the project coordinator and along with many women involved, we managed to get on film, we managed to get local council to participate, it was a big project, with Victorian Government Funding from the Victorian Multicultural Commission, so it had to be signed off etc.
We also received funding for Geelong’s inner programs like Sisters doing it. Darebin Shire which I also attended, ran ‘Understanding our Muslim Sisters, Seven Stories and Outstanding women’.
It created an atmosphere for emerging communities to get involved in radio. I was very interested in this as we (Lithuanian’s) have been here a long time, and as a Lithuanian – we’ve become the oldies, we have the experience of surviving in this culture, in this new country and maintaining our own language and maintaining our culture. It’s very important too, even for emerging communities to be able to feel proud of their country, and their languages. And getting to know all the other cultures, around as well, and other women, and working with other women from different nationalities. The women’s committee has a broad array of different women; there were two Lithuanians, Tasmania, and Victoria we had two Lithuanians so Irana Grant in Tasmania and myself so it was an interesting process in that we had a variety of women that had to work together and that was great.
I feel I’ve given voice to women who are role models in their own communities.
How did it benefit you as a woman in your community and particularly a woman in a broadcasting environment?
At my station ‘The Pulse’ in Geelong, we have become very strong. We have a Persian women’s group, still have the Chinese women’s broadcasters group and so, it has opened the door to different cultures, to enter broadcasting. There is a confidence there, especially when they see other women doing programs. Even here at 3zzz there was one woman from Sudan ‘Ajak’ a singer, she came and sang for us during refugee week which gave people the confidence to continue, and when they are accepted in a broader sense, even at Torque, refugees are welcome. They’ve even put that in to the council.
It opens the door to a lot of younger people, especially girls as well, where broadcasting is an area that is good on a CV. I am not sure about Melbourne and 3zzz because you’ve got your own format, but what I’ve seen in Sydney, there are people there that are involved in their radio stations and how they’re run. Queensland ofcourse are just fantastic, Darwin, WA, there’s a lot of work going on and even Tasmania now.. all working so as long as we have the funding, we – well, hopefully we will survive, maintain our languages, our language skills, I think that is an important aspect of it.
Are you still involved in community broadcasting?
Yes. I continue to pursue my life as a broadcaster, in Geelong at the PULSE Mondays 6pm – 7pm. Albeit in the process of reinventing myself, my passion for sustaining a voice of multiculturalism on community radio is paramount to me. I endeavor to encourage others and continue to be a working advocate!
Maria Elena Chagoya, City Park Radio
Women’s Committee Representative 2013 – 2015
This is an NEMBC Women’s Committee project.