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Somali Diaspora in Australia ready to assume bigger role in Somali


Hiiraan Online
Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Melbourne (HOL) - On Sunday January 27, members of the Somali-Australian community have organized “Melbourne Forum”. The Forum was intended to motivate, challenge and remind the Somali community of the events taking place back home in Somalia and challenges faced by the community in Australia. The initiative was the brainchild of members of the Melbourne Somali community leaders who invited Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD) to visit Australia.


The CRD’s 'engaging with the Somali Diaspora’ initiative which took place in the US, Canada and Europe has finally reached Australia and if the reception from the Somali community is any guide, it must have pushed many from their comfort zones and moved them to seriously pay attention the events taking place back home and their ongoing Socioeconomic challenges in Australia.  A/llahi Hagi Ali, member of the organizing committee said “a remarkable historical event happened tonight in Melbourne”. Members of the Somali community were given an opportunity to share and exchange their views about the current events in Somalia and in wider Australia.


"This has been the best Somali community gathering I have attended', Ahmed Adan commented who added that 'for the first time we started talking about the big picture, the things that really matter, rather than focusing on the things that divide us”


"The thematical presentation by Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD) was comprehensive and make us think deeply about the current situation in Somalia and where to from here" Yusuf Sheikh Omar, commented. In fact many of the attendees of the event felt challenged and for the first time there was a consensus and demonstration of community spirit and feeling of a need for urgent reconciliation among the Somali Diaspora community itself.


Jabril Abdulle
Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle, Director of Center  for Research and Dialogue (CRD)
Speaking to the Somali leaders and Friends of Somalis in Melbourne, Sunday, Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle, and Director of Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD) said, “the Diaspora community is playing an important and crucial role in many aspects of the life in Somalia, but unity or rather unifying the community seems to be the key challenge facing Somali community”.


Dr Suriani Suratman of Singapore National University echoed Jabril’s comments, and pointed out that “there is historical opportunity for Somali community to become active player both back home and in their adapted country. “Somalis community can learn from south-east Asia communities who have gone through similar experience,’ She added, “what makes Somalis Diaspora unique, is the resilience, flexibly and creativity in addressing those challenges”


There were overwhelming agreements that the Somali community’s absence in the local and national politics and decision making process was not helping the community. On the other hand there were positive comments made regarding the CRD suggestion for the Somali community to start actively participating in many of the Australian community initiatives and more importantly joining and playing credible role in the State and Federal political processes. The emphasis here was to encourage the Somali community to participate and make their voice heard in all sectors of the Australian government. The purpose here is to get the Australian government involved in the rebuilding of Somalia, establishing business and educational links.


There were many young people who showed their commitments to contribute to the reconstruction of Somalia by suggesting ways to end the current impasse which they pointed out to be mainly caused by lack of education. Some of the Somali women who attended the event also shared their appreciation and asked for further follow up sessions.


Ciise Farah Dhoolawaa, a well known media personality in the Australian Somali community mentioned the need for community to become aware of the role of the media and how to utilize it in informing the Australian public about the current issues in Somalia. "We need to develop and establish our own media outlets both for local and global consumption' Ciise said.


In Melbourne alone, there are over 60 clan-based organizations with deep divisions along clan line. The community leaders have shared their views and experiences from historical perspectives. Abdirahman M  Faroole, prominent member of Somali community here in Australia, suggested that "the time has come when the Somali community has to reconcile and unify their efforts" he continued, "we can no longer afford to maintain the status quo, tonight should mark new beginning”


Cecilia liddle who have been closely following Somali community over the years, said “ I remember, Somali community in Australia as handful students, today, as seen tonight, community is growing and maturing” She added, “in order to maintain such rapid grow, community needs common causes that unify their efforts”


Members of the Somali women leaders who met with the CRD team highlighted the need for linking women groups in the Somali and the Diaspora with the intention of sharing ideas and experiences. The community expressed an overwhelming desire to work closely with civil society in Somalia CRD was urged to facilitate a process where Somali professionals in Australia can participate or initiate in development projects in Somalia. They also strongly suggested that CRD should facilitate a process to link the Somali professional and civil societies in different part of the world and those at home with the intention of synergizing their efforts toward rebuilding Somalia.


The CRD team challenged the Somali community in Australia to take “educating themselves and especially their kids seriously”. The CRD team urged the community to realize that education was the only viable solution to ensure rapid progress and guaranteed path to development both in Australia and Somalia. 


The Chair of CRD, Mohamed Ibrahim, thanked the community members, the business people and the leaders for their support and invitation to deliver their presentations and share their views.


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