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Innovative short films capture young migrants’ experiences

Liverpool community collaboration highlights importance of belonging, acceptance

A collaboration between University of Wollongong (UOW) students, CuriousWorks, and young migrants in South Western Sydney from Settlement Services International (SSI) shines a light on the concept of belonging to a community.

Passage: Stories of Migration and Belonging is a series of three short films that share insights into the migrant and refugee experiences of the film’s creators, capturing the depth and emotion of their experiences.

Dr Sukhmani Khorana (pictured in South West Sydney), Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry and Academic Program Leader at UOW South Western Sydney, worked with six participants alongside professional filmmaking mentors from Liverpool-based media and arts company CuriousWorks to create the films.

The project is part of the 2018 UOW Community Engagement Grants, an annual program that provides funding to UOW staff who partner with community organisations for education, research, or outreach.

The aim of the pilot project, Dr Khorana said, was to highlight the unique experiences and diverse young voices that comprise our multicultural society.

“Migration has always been part of our shared story,” Dr Khorana said. “Finding ways to share these experiences becomes our collective storytelling and a path to growing our ability to accept others, embrace difference and co-create a sense of belonging.

“Liverpool, with its waves of migration since the second world war, and recent developments in infrastructure funding and establishing of a new UOW campus, is a microcosm of Australia's future.”

She said the three UOW students and the three recent migrant participants from Settlement Services International were true collaborators in the creative process.

They also reflected the cultural diversity of Liverpool, and the South Western Sydney area in general, and the lessons these communities can offer to the rest of Australia.

“There is a tendency for creators to use migrants and refugees as subjects rather than let them have equal agency in cultural and creative productions,” Dr Khorana said.

“The collaboration was both rewarding and inspiring, not only by the stories shared by all but also the learning experience I shared with my team member and other participants of this amazing endeavour,” UOW South Western Sydney student Maria Granopoulos said.

Passage: Stories of Migration and Belonging will be launched tomorrow (Wednesday 27 March) at UOW South Western Sydney.

Federal Senator Mehreen Faruqi will be the guest speaker at the event, which will feature a film introduction and screening as well as a panel discussion on media and belonging. The event will be opened by Pro Vice-Chancellor (SWS) Professor Colin Picker.