Six of Al Siraat College Senior students attended the National Council of Women of Victoria’s (NCWV) annual event held on Monday 7 August 2023 in the Legislative Council Chamber of the Parliament of Victoria that provided a platform for thought-provoking discussions and inspirational speeches.

The program commenced with a warm welcome from Ronniet Milliken, President of NCWV, setting an inclusive and engaging tone for the day. Guest speaker Lauren Matthews from the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission shared insightful perspectives on the event’s theme.

Victorian students were introduced by Pam Hammond, Education Adviser and Convenor of the Civics and Citizenship’ Program at NCWV, highlighting their active involvement in the event.

Two of Al Siraat distinguished students, Osama Akkad and Areeba Bilal, took a significant step towards advocating for human rights and civic engagement on stage to deliver eloquent speeches addressing this year’s theme: “What are the barriers to Human Rights in Australia? How can we begin to overcome them?”.

These young leaders demonstrated their dedication by conducting thorough research, engaging in discussions with peers, and seeking insights from various sources to enrich their perspectives on the theme. They incorporated Islamic values into their speeches, weaving in verses from the Holy Quran and quotes from the final sermon of Prophet Mohammed (s).

Their speeches resonated powerfully as they addressed the theme and its implications, shedding light on challenges faced and proposing strategies for overcoming these obstacles. Their remarkable delivery, infused with wisdom and compassion, left an indelible mark on the audience.

My Vote My Voice 2023 received endorsement and support from esteemed entities, including the President of the Legislative Council, the Education and Community Engagement Unit of the Parliament of Victoria, Australian Local Government Women’s Association (Victoria); the League of Women Voters Victoria’s Bessie Rischbieth Trust and the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The event also featured panel discussions and plenary sessions, where notable figures like Fiona Patten, past Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) in Victoria, and Clr Kylie Spears, President of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association, shared insights, and perspectives.

The day concluded with fruitful discussions, meaningful connections, and the capture of memorable moments through photographs.

The event allowed Al Siraat students to engage in meaningful conversations, advocate for human rights, and showcase the value of diverse perspectives.

This experience exemplified the core values of Al Siraat and the dedication of the students to contributing positively to society.

Reflection by College Captain Osama Akkad:

“Going to the “My Vote My Voice” event was a true privilege, especially since we got to be a voice of the Muslim community and present the barrier to human rights that Muslim Australian face in this land. Sitting in the legislative chamber of the parliament, we got to share some of the challenges that we, Muslims face and some ways in which we could combat these Islamophobic beliefs and stereotypes.

What we were happy to see was the warm welcome and acceptance of many attendees to the barriers the Muslim community faces and their sharing on their personal recounts with marginalisation. We got to see that there are people who are neutral about Islam and some who are even willing to join us on the journey of spreading the true meaning and representation of Islam and Muslims”.