City to launch new 2023-2025 Intercultural Ambassadors at Harmony Fair

Media release

The City of Greater Bendigo will launch its 2023-2025 Intercultural Ambassador Program at 11am on Saturday March 18 at the Harmony Fair taking place in the Dai Gum San Chinese Precinct.

The City of Greater Bendigo’s Intercultural Ambassador Program features 12 members and is a voluntary leadership opportunity for multicultural community members from across Greater Bendigo to share their culture, connect with others, and enhance understanding and cultural diversity.

Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the program provides Ambassadors with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, share their culture, inform policy, connect and network with others, to enhance understanding and cultural diversity for Greater Bendigo.

“Intercultural Ambassadors share their cultural heritage and promote intercultural understanding between different cultural groups living with in the Greater Bendigo area,” Cr Metcalf said.

“The Ambassadors will assist in promoting, launching, hosting and supporting relevant events, such as; Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week, Harmony Day, Refugee Week and Cultural Diversity Week.

“They will also have opportunities to join and contribute to council meetings, committees, working groups and other activities that contribute to inclusion policy for Council as identified.”

The 12 Intercultural Ambassadors include:

Nishadi Weeratunga

A Sinhalese woman from Sri Lanka who moved to Bendigo in 2019. She has a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning and worked as an Urban Planner for seven years before transitioning to a career in Community Services and Aged Care.

Lwe Pree

Lwe is a Karen woman born in Burma. When she was two years old, her family was forced to flee to Thailand where they spent 18 years in a refugee camp. Lwe and her family resettled in Bendigo in 2015 and now, Lwe is studying a Bachelor of Nursing and volunteers at a number of non-profit organisations.

Marlissa Theresia

Marlissa is an Indonesian woman of Christian faith who migrated to Australia in 2020. She is a Law major undergraduate, having spent three years working as a Corporate Legal in Jakarta. In Bendigo, Marlissa works as a Farm Hand at Hazeldene Chicken Farm and in the kitchen at Newbridge Hotel. 

Laila Hashimi

Laila is a Hazara woman and born in Afghanistan. She came to Australia in 2014 as a refugee and has been a pillar of support for the community ever since. Laila is incredibly busy, working two roles at Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services, modelling for a

number of Hazara fashion organisations and volunteering at Golden Square Pool, the Old Church on the Hill and at community events such as Zinda Festival and White Night.

Yadwinder Singh

Yadwinder is a Punjabi man of Sikh faith from India. He migrated to Australia in 2013 as an international student, graduating with a Bachelors of Information Technology. He moved to Bendigo two years ago and works as Depot Manager at Direct Freight

Express. Yadwinder also volunteers with Australian Sikh Support, a not-for-profit community support organisation and supported the community during the recent floods.

Miriam Casas

Miriam was born in Mexico and spent her youth across South America including Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. She spent her teenage years in the US before moving to Australia and settling directly into Bendigo in 2013. Throughout her carer, Miriam has found her strengths in education and linguistics. She is a founding member of Hispanos Unidos de Victoria which aims to promote, foster and provide a richer understanding of Spanish-speaking cultures in Victoria.

Shilin Joseph

Shilin was born in India and moved to Australia in 2007. She spent her first year in Australia studying and living between Ballarat and Melbourne. When she found a job at Bendigo Health in 2008, Shilin and her family decided to make Bendigo home. She is currently a Clinical Nurse Consultant and in her final year of studies to become a Nurse Practitioner.

Eunmi (Rachel) Cho

Rachel was born in South Korea. She first visited Australia in 2006 as a student to learn conversational English for a year but fell in love with Bendigo and has since spent her years following building a life here with her family. Eunmi has a Bachelors in Human Resource Management and is currently an Employment Mentor at Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services.

Maha Htoo Sein

Maha was born in Myanmar (Burma) and is of Karen background. His family migrated to Western Australia on a humanitarian visa in 2009 before moving to Bendigo in 2015. Maha previously worked as personal care assistant at an aged care facility before landing a traineeship at Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS). He has since worked across LCMS in a number of roles including as a Multi-lingual Support Worker (English, Poe Karen and Burmese) and is currently a Project Coordinator (Communications).

Enos Mahachi

Born and raised in Zimbabwe and having lived in Botswana and the UK, Enos has had great lived experience as an immigrant before settling in Bendigo in 2017. His journey sparked a passion for inclusion, diversity and social cohesion which has seen Enos support the community through his previous work as a social worker and current role as Director at an NDIS provider.

Dr Thaera O’Brien

Thaera is from Malaysia, migrating to Australia in 2019. She was born into a family of advocates and activists and has become an academic in her own right with over 20 years of experience in teaching, training, research, cross-cultural intelligence and project

management in the higher education industry. Thaera also has significant experience working with non-profit organisations, working across a number of multicultural women’s organisations. Her last position was as the Chairperson for Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services.

Dassanyake Sampath Wickramasinghe

Dassanyake, also known as Sam, is a Buddhist from Sri Lanka. He worked in the Tea Plantation sector and was the president of the Regional Rotary Club before moving to Australia in 2006 where he spent the last 15 years working for the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. Sam is currently the Senior Advisor in the Public Housing Department.

The launch of the 2023 program follows on from the success of the City’s Intercultural Ambassadors Pilot Program 2019-2021.

Greater Bendigo