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Multicultural friendships among Australians celebrated in moving documentary series

2018 statistics reveal that 29 per cent of the Australian resident population, or 7,341,910 people, were born overseas. We have the world’s eighth-largest immigrant population, a higher proportion than any other nation with a population of over 10 million.

Australia’s vibrant multiculturalism has served as a major source of inspiration for Why Documentaries filmmaker Sandra Pires. A brainstorming session several years ago between Sandra and Multicultural Communities Council Illawarra (MCCI) Manager Terrie Leoleos resulted in the idea for U & Me, a series of short-form documentaries focussing on friendships between people from diverse cultural backgrounds. “We had tears in our eyes thinking about the project and hoping that the stories would spread goodwill,” says Sandra. “At the time, the Adam Goodes abuse was rife and it felt like racism was increasing. We discussed how we could tell the stories between neighbours, friends and then this grew into political rivals, refugees and war veterans. It’s still growing.”

Since launching on Harmony Day 2017, the U & Me series has become a finalist for a 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission Award and Sandra estimates the videos have now reached over a million people online. “To celebrate what is great about us as people, to celebrate what we already have and to showcase what’s possible if we hold these values dear is the reason I live and breathe stories,” she says.

IMB Bank Community Foundation funding directly led to the production of four U & Me stories, as well as helping to attract funding for an additional six, which wrapped shooting in 2019 and will be rolled out through 2020. “The aim remains to grow this series until we garner national interest,” says Sandra. “What has been really exciting is that the second phase in 2019 included training in film production for people who arrived in Sydney and the Illawarra as refugees. These young people produced their own videos: camera, lighting, interviewing, the works. The produced films are fantastic.”

Sandra says watching people from disparate backgrounds come together is the most rewarding aspect of the project. “You can’t go past Ben and Trinh’s friendship – a Vietnamese Refugee and a Vietnam Veteran, it doesn’t get more real than that,” she says. “The very real power of friendship to change things for the better and to provide safety, peace and internal growth as a person can never be underestimated. If we are kinder, search for common ground, smile at people who are different from us and if we truly learn to care, we have a recipe for ongoing and lasting peace.”

Find out more at uandme.com.au especially as the new films are released through 2020 and go to the Documentary Australia Foundation if you would like to donate to the project.Globally, association football – or soccer, as it’s commonly known in Australia – is played by over 250 million players of all ages, races and genders in over 200 nations. If there’s one sport designed to bring a variety of people together, football is it.

Find out more at uandme.com.au especially as the new films are released through 2020 and go to the Documentary Australia Foundation if you would like to donate to the project. 

 


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Helping build and strengthen our local communities since 1999

As a mutual bank, supporting our local communities is important to us. We believe in supporting projects that foster inclusion, encourage volunteering and create sustainable outcomes, enabling the communities around us to thrive.

Over the last 20 years, The IMB Bank Community Foundation has invested over $10 million to support over 700 community projects. We’re very proud of the projects we’ve supported and each year we marvel at the wonderful achievements of our funding recipients.

These diverse and meaningful grassroots programs are found wherever IMB Bank operates — Sydney, The Hunter, The Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Far South Coast NSW.

Previous funding recipients

Farmborough Heights Rural Fire Brigade

A thermal imaging camera will enable The Farmborough Heights Rural Fire Brigade’s volunteer members to fully interpret a fire scene providing accurate situational awareness both day and night. It will also assist in search and rescue operations at any time and in any light conditions.

Giralang/Kaleen Men's Shed

The Giralang/Kaleen Men's Shed offers all men access to a range of activities including a woodworking workshop, garden, physical activity such as walking, and social interaction. Members will be trained in first aid to support shed members if needed.

Girl Guides Association of NSW

Building on a century of adventure, fun and friendship, Girl Guides empowers girls and young women to grow into confident, self-respecting, responsible community members. The project will allow Girl Guides to offer abseiling, high ropes and rock-climbing experiences in the local region providing opportunities for the girls to grow, learn and have fun in the outdoors.

See all recipients

 

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We provide simple and secure digital banking solutions online and on mobile, and members enjoy access to free automated phone and internet banking, and a team of professionals at our locally based contact centre. With a growing branch network throughout the Illawarra, Sydney, NSW South Coast, Newcastle/Hunter, the ACT and Melbourne, we have a lending specialist in every branch and a team of mobile lending specialists who will come to you.

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