60 Seconds with Doseda Hetherington

Doseda Hetherington, Women’s health worker and gender equality advocate

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I’ve recently been inspired by a documentary on living minimally – it really resonated with me and I’ve since been slowing getting rid of the stuff in my life that I no longer use or need. It’s such a great feeling to be able to let go of things, because at the end of the day they are just things.

What is the best thing that has happened to you today?
Feeling part of an inclusive workplace – enjoying the company of my beautiful work colleagues.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
Gender equality, of course.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I would love to have the talent to end gender-based violence.

What is the best part of your day?
Seeing my kids when I pick them up from school – I always miss their little faces

What do you most value in your friends? 
In my friends I value our differences – everyone is different and we can learn so much from each other. I also value their time, because time is so precious!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? Or what has been the biggest challenge of living in Australia so far?
When I arrived in Australia 30 years ago (our family moved from New Zealand, and previous to that we were refugees from Cambodia), what I found the most challenging thing to deal with was the racism that I encountered. Being a young girl, it was really hard to understand why people felt hatred, purely based on the way I looked. The one piece of advice I would give to someone new to Australia is reach out to people in your community. If you’re doing an English language class – make sure you do things outside of class together.

Can you describe a time where you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant and refugee background?
I distinctly remember when I was about 12 walking to the shops with my older sister and being racially abused by about five men from a van. I remember them shouting out disgusting things to us and fearing for our safety. We got home and I just burst out crying.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background?
Over the years, I’ve really learned to love who I am and the differences I bring to people around me. In my previous role as a media adviser, I was fortunate enough to work with refugee and migrant students – one moment that stood out for me was when I met with a young Cambodian student, who said she was really inspired by what I had achieved as someone from a refugee background. I later learned that she became an ambassador for migrant students, which was so awesome to hear!

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
Definitely my mum. I baffles me to this day how she and my dad could escape a war-torn country by foot, pregnant with two young children. She has instilled strong values in all of her three children, prioritising our health and safety, but also ensuring that we had an education.

Name a book or a film that changed your life.
I’m currently reading ‘First They Killed My Father’, a book based on a five-year old’s account of her time in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge. As I read the book, it’s so hard for me to imagine the horrific experiences people had to suffer through. I was only a baby when we were sponsored to go to New Zealand, so I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up in countries where there was no war.

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
To me, multiculturalism means embracing different cultures and having the opportunity to learn more about cultures that are not your own. It means recognising the benefits of a society that is inclusive.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
People are scared of the unknown. It would be so great if people could just take the time to understand and learn more about people and cultures before they judge.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would you like to tell him?
Stop taxing tampons

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because….
In 2017, women and men should have equal rights, full stop.