“It’s about being yourself”

“It’s about being yourself”

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Multicultural Leadership Program
“I’m not shy, I will speak to anyone, that’s how I grew up." Photograph - Aaron Van Rongen.

A bagpipe-playing, polyglot Sikh living in Armadale has been selected for a multicultural leadership program in recognition of his active role in the community.

Manveer Singh’s participation in the Auspire Multicultural Leadership Program 2022 is yet another feather in the cap of this community-oriented father of two, who helped to co-found the Harmony Week Festival in Harrisdale in 2015.

“When I moved to Piara Waters, I thought the biggest investment someone can do is buying a home, and I thought if I’m going to live in this place, if my kids are going to grow up here, I want to make a safe society and environment for my family,” Mr Singh said.

“I am of North Indian heritage, I was born and brought up in Malaysia, and I speak a few different languages – English, Malaysian, Punjabi, a little bit of South Indian and a few dialects of Chinese as well.

“My wife is Indonesian, her forefathers moved to Indonesia during the Dutch occupation.

“I’m not shy, I will speak to anyone, that’s how I grew up, Tamil, Chinese, English, Malay, the whole community was there, that barrier was broken in my childhood.”

Mr Singh left Malaysia to study engineering in Newcastle, UK, before moving to Piara Waters to start his family in 2012.

He says his diverse background and life experiences make it easy to connect with people from all walks of life.

“I’m a mix of everything. When I speak to British people in my community I connect easily with them, when I talk to the Southeast Asian people, it’s easy to connect because I know their language.

“When I speak to Indians, with my physical appearance, it’s easy to get connected.

“That’s how we created a very united community and that’s how Harmony Week Festival got started.”

And while his drive is towards a more inclusive nation, Mr Singh says it’s the simple interactions with neighbours and community members that form the bedrock of a multicultural society.

“The ultimate goal is to create an inclusive Australia. It can be as simple as ‘I’m shy because I don’t speak good English, how can I talk to my neighbour?’”

“As a Sikh, I don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s for my Christian friends and family, but every year I encourage my kids, we go and buy a stack of cards and drop them in the letterboxes of our neighbours.

“You would be surprised the neighbours will come and say thank you – that’s where it starts.

“To bring change, as individuals we need to make the first initiative. I can sit back and say, “let someone else do it,” but maybe it’s just my personality.

“This community, there are a lot of new migrants, young families building their homes.

“It’s important to enhance this and hold these values to the local community.

“We want them to be Australian, but not to lose their identity and culture, without that they are nothing.

“It’s about being yourself, being genuine. I just want to see where the journey leads.”

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