View all news

Diversity is a blessing


26 March 2004
Southern Cross University (SCU) is hosting a leading speaker on Islamic issues in Australian society on Monday, March 29.

Ms Nada Roude will be speaking on the topic: Please Explain - Growing up Muslim in Australia- one woman's story. Ms Roude was born in Lebanon, and has been in Australia since 1972. She has been actively involved in community development and education programs for more than 20 years.

Ms Roude will speak about her experience growing up as a young woman of Arab Muslim background and the challenges she experienced.

“I have spent my life dealing with fear of difference, prejudice and ignorance and how these attitudes can contribute to hatred and disharmony,” she said. “I am both Muslim and Australian and my philosophy is built on a marriage of these cultures. In fact, they have much in common, despite what you may have heard through mass media. Islam is very much based on the concept of ‘a fair go’, like Aussie mateship.”

In her talk, Ms Roude will focus on recent world and local events and how they have impacted on her life and on the Australian Muslim community in general.

“I will be discussing how we as a community of diverse cultures and religions can better engage with one another so as to improve understanding,” she said.

“Too often the need to understand and accommodate minority opinions is seen as a nuisance, but to me, diversity is a blessing. I want to challenge misconceptions and promote peace, harmony and respect between people of all faiths, races and nationalities, especially in these times of uncertainty.”

Ms Roude has worked for the Ethnic Affairs Commission for more than 13 years, (now the Community Relations commission) advising the Premier on ethnic issues. She was the founder of the first Muslim women's refuge established in Australia catering for women and children seeking crisis accommodation. Her work has focused on identifying and addressing gender and religious specific issues and incorporating these into the planning and delivery of government and community based programs and services.

In the 1980s, she began an ongoing interfaith dialogue with Christian women and women of other faiths with a view to improving understanding and cooperation. Since September 11, she has been actively involved in promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding through seminars and training, and has participated in state, national and international conferences speaking on cultural and religious issues, community engagement, and leadership.

“I believe we all play an important role individually and collectively in fostering a climate of peace,” she said. “This can come about by understanding other perspectives, through greater engagement, interaction and dialogue built on mutual respect and love and on recognition of common goals.”

Ms Roude has a BA (Honours) in Arabic Islamic Studies from Sydney University, a Graduate Certificate in Management from Flinders University and a Graduate Diploma in Adult Education from the University of Western Sydney.

The forum is open to the public and will be held from 3pm on Monday, March 29, at the SCU Lismore campus in Y205.

Media contact: Kath Duncan/Sara Crowe Ph: 6620 3144 or Brigid Veale Ph: 6659 3006.