60 seconds with Yue Gao


GAP Project Officer and aspiring pole-dancer

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Exploring the city with my parents who are visiting from China and enjoying being with them.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
It’s pretty personal. I wish I could become a time traveller so that I could push my cousin away before he was hit by a car several years ago.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I wish I could do pole dancing….like a professional!! The dance is most of the time perceived and constructed as very sexually seductive, but it is actually a good exercise to help strengthen your body and can be done in a very professional manner.

What is the best part of your job?
It’s so cool that I work with a bunch of really supportive women from various cultural backgrounds, who are really passionate about their work and are bringing positive changes to society. Of course, another fabulous thing about having colleagues from different cultures is you get to taste authentic home-style cooking from around the world!

What has been the biggest challenge about living in Australia so far?
The biggest challenge for me since coming to Australia is constantly re-defining myself and finding myself a comfortable position in a new environment. It also took me a while to get rid of the guilt of not ‘blending’ into the local ‘culture’ quickly (I partially blame my AFAA, i.e. Asian Flush and Alcohol Allergy, for that. Lol). Therefore, my suggestion to new migrants would be don’t rush into things you are not comfortable with doing, or try to identify with everything around you and don’t get frustrated if you cannot because these things don’t just happen overnight. Take it slowly and find your own tempo, see where your guts lead you to.

What’s your favourite word in the English language? Why?
I love the word ‘Empathy’ or in my mother language ‘同理心’ and I am trying to share and understand the feelings of people around me rather than simply feeling pity or sorry for them. It might be a bit hard but I’m trying.

Can you describe a time when you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant or refugee background?
Believe it or not, I was told to go back to where I came from by an old lady who I never met before on a bus while I was in Sydney.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant/refugee background?
Being an immigrant woman, I get the chance to appreciate beauty from both cultures. It gives you a unique perspective to appreciate and interpret things and it also forces you to think and observe  more.

If you could invite any woman (dead or living) to dinner tonight, who would it be?
I would love to invite Wu Zetian, who was the only female Emperor of China during the short Zhou Dynasty about 1400 years ago. There are countless stories in history books, anecdotes and folklores about her political legends. Her active personal life, sophistication, toughness and wisdom as a wife and mother have always been one of the hottest themes for Chinese popular culture e.g., movies, songs and television dramas. Therefore, it would be fantastic to hear from her about what happened 1400 years ago and how she pioneered feminism in a patriarchal society like feudal China.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
My mum is absolutely amazing. Losing her dad as a teenage girl, she managed to finish her school as well as look after the whole family (her mum and two younger brothers). These days, nothing seems to beat her as she is so resilient and optimistic.

Name a book or film that changed your life.
It’s a bit unusual because it is an academic book, which I read several years ago, called ‘A Brief History of Neoliberalism’. It is not a thick book but I found it really helpful to better understand the world in the post-cold-war era and the modern financial system. It also argues how neoliberalism as a social discourse has shaped people’s views on education, finance, health and well-being as personal responsibility to make up for the retreat of the public welfare system (I still find it quite useful and constantly reflect on the book for my current work at MCWH).

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
Mutual respect and support.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would like to tell him?
Medicare is brilliant and please pay more attention to the welfare of international students.

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because…”
…we live in a highly mediated and info-explosive world and women’s bodies are highly sexualised and commercialised, which only exacerbates systemic gender inequalities.