60 seconds with Monique Hameed


Australian Indigenous Studies Tutor and MCWH Project Officer

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Working at the MCWH! Also I’ve been enjoying my work with the Undercurrent Community Education Project doing workshops around sex and consent in the western suburbs of Melbourne. It’s great getting to meet young men and women and talk to them about their lives.

What is the best thing that happened to you today?
I ran into my friend on my way to work and she shared some of her amazing breakfast with me.

What talent would you most like to possess?
Invisibility. The possibilities seem endless!

What is the best part of your day?
Through my role at MCWH I will have the opportunity to meet with young woman and hear about their experiences of being same-sex attracted woman from migrant or refugee backgrounds. I’m excited to meet and be inspired by these young women.

What do you most value in your friends?
Their ability to make me laugh! It doesn’t matter how bad my mood is they can always make me smile!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
I guess to be able to talk about my place in Australia. As someone with darker skin I find that I’m often treated as a foreigner, or someone who is not “from here”. As a kid growing up in Australia I found that hard and it affected how I thought about belonging and identity in Australia. Being able to talk about Aboriginal sovereignty as a woman from a migrant background has been really important to me when thinking about these things – it’s a constant challenge. I’m interested in talking about the ways that migrants in Australia profit off the colonisation of this land and thinking about ways that we can show solidarity.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant/refugee background?
Having access to a culture that isn’t just the dominant Western one. I’m proud of my big extended family and have learnt so much from them and their experiences of living both in Australia and their countries of origin.

If you could invite any woman (dead or living) to dinner tonight, who would it be?
Arundhati Roy or Rihanna. I feel like both of these women would know how to have a good time!

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
Joan Nestle – activist, writer, historian and founder of the lesbian herstory archives. She lives in Melbourne and continues to be involved in local political and community events. I have learnt so much from her written work on her experiences of being a lesbian Jew from working-class roots and a femme feminist queer from the 1950’s. Even at seventy-four she is still teaching and learning and I find her open-mindedness inspirational.

Name a book or film that changed your life.
I’ll name a book and a film:

Talkin Up to the White Woman – Aileen Moreton Robinson. This book changed the way I thought about feminism and colonialism in Australia.

Saving Face – This movie was the first time I had seen a same sex attracted relationship depicted on screen between two women who weren’t white. It meant a lot to me at the time. Apparently the screen writer had to fight quite hard to ensure that the actors who played their characters remained Chinese-American as the producers kept pushing for one character to be white arguing that otherwise people wouldn’t be able to relate!

What are you reading right now?
Susan Sontag’s AIDS and its Metaphors (about how attitudes to disease are formed in society) and Peter Polites Ornaments from Two Countries: GLBTIQ Stories of Difference from Western Sydney and Regional NSW (an anthology of essays, poetry and memoir).

Do you have a song/music that inspires and motivates you?
I love listening to Bodu Beru drumming, a traditional form of Maldivian music. I also get lots of inspiration from Mariah Carey!

What could you never be without?
My friends, music, a necklace given to me by my grandmother.