60 seconds with Melek Cetiner

Cross-cultural trainer and social justice warrior

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Spending time with my grandchildren and enjoy watching them enjoying the moment and appreciating the little things in everyday life.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
To eliminate poverty, violence, war and discrimination.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
Change the words of those who incite fear and division to words of encouragement, kindness and unity.

Biggest challenge as a woman from an immigrant background?
I was a child migrant. We migrated under the “White Australian Policy”. Like most first generation migrant kids, I took on the grown up role both in my family and my community as an interpreter for all issues. I was booked up everyday after school and school holidays to interpret for some one in the community.

Name a book or film that changed your life.
It’s hard to name one. Every book I read, film and play I saw has changed something in me, my life and the way I see the world. It is incremental and accumulative. I believe, it teaches me so much about the complexities of life, politics, social issues about people, relationships and about me and how I see the world.

What has been the biggest challenge about living in Australia so far?
Finding myself in the new country. Finding a way to belong to my new country whilst maintaining my identity and belonging to my roots. Seeking ways to learn how to be a contributing member of the society in which I live.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
It’s not always going to be like this. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, embrace who you are and your heritage, explore possibilities, make new friends, allow time and be kind to yourself.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
There are and have been so many inspiring women in various stages of my life. Maybe I start with my friends. They are inspiring, capable, caring, creative and made a real difference to my life and continue to contribute to my life every day. My mother is another; I always say I want to be like my mother when I grow up. She is not afraid of the new or the different. She is a great story teller and has a proverb for every occasion. She is sharp, strong, independent supportive and kind. I have met some amazing woman in my varying roles, who taught me so much. Most of all, the woman who I work with (clients) from all walks of life who are resilient, smart, adaptable and supportive to those around them whilst they are working through their own issues, all at the same time.

What are you reading right now?
I try daily to scan through a few papers (including the ones not written in Australia) in the mornings before I get to work. Not always very successfully. I get in to a bit more detail on the weekends I try to read material to improve my knowledge in the area of my work. I have just started reading “Talking to My Nation”, and I recently read, “Australia Second Chance” which provides a very unique history of Australia dating back to 1788.

What is your favourite possession?
My memories.

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
Where we all live together valuing the strengths in our differences, and caring for those who are just arriving. Remembering we were all new arrivals once and we all remember those who were kind and helped us settle in to our new country.  

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would like to tell him?
Be humane, be authentic, and be kind to the refugees, asylum seekers and members of our society who have been made vulnerable. Invest equally in education for the children of our society. They are the nation’s future.

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because…”
…we haven’t achieved gender equality yet.

The WRAP is a monthly newsletter about migrant women’s issues. Subscribe to our mailing list here.