Cringila students join U & Me project launch on Harmony Day

IN HARMONY: Cringila Public School students Ali Ayoub (front), Annabelle Petrovska, Rukaya Marmar, Laila Hadaya and Natasha Howland. Picture: Robert Peet . Picture: Robert Peet
IN HARMONY: Cringila Public School students Ali Ayoub (front), Annabelle Petrovska, Rukaya Marmar, Laila Hadaya and Natasha Howland. Picture: Robert Peet . Picture: Robert Peet

Religion plays no part in the friendship of best mates Ali Ayoub and Jakeb Musso.

But the Cringila Public School students’ budding friendship is highlighted in the U & Me project to showcase why Australia has one of the ‘’best multicultural societies in the world’’.

The new online documentary series developed by Why Documentaries together with the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) and Multicultural NSW, was officially launched at the State Library in Sydney on Tuesday.

U & Me founder and Why Documentaries’ film director Sandra Pires, said it was no coincidence that the project was launched on Harmony Day.

She said the project celebrates friendships in Australia between people from different cultural backgrounds who you wouldn’t expect to be best of friends.

Ms Pires added that while there were challenges, Australia needed to celebrate the good that has come out of being a multicultural society.

‘’We can’t forget that we have a tolerant multicultural society, probably one of the best functioning in the world,’’ she said.

‘’We need to hold that dearly, celebrate that and I think we need to share some of these stories. There is obviously a want for these kind of stories. We should tell them and stop pushing the boundaries of sensationalism.’’

The U & Me project launch showcased five different stories about friendships between people who have found common ground despite their cultural differences and backgrounds.

Students from Cringila Public School, one of the state's most multicultural primary schools, feature in a film showing us how they ‘’play with everyone, even when they are different’’.

Ten-year-old Ali also spoke at the launch. The devout Muslim told the Mercury beforehand he was a ‘bit nervous’ because his best mate [atheist] Jakeb was off sick and would not speak at the launch with him.

‘’We’ve been best mates since kindergarten. It would have been good to do this [speech] together,’’ Ali said.

U & Me also explores the friendship between two farmers in Griffith, one Indian born and one Australian born. It also tells the story of Aboriginal elder Aunty Ali and her friend Deborah, of Filipino background, who became friends after an incident in Redfern.

‘’There’s plenty of stories. We just need help to tell them,’’ Ms Pires said.

MCCI general manager Chris Lacey said it was important to showcase the positive aspects of diversity and inclusion.

‘’Multiculturalism is not some abstract concept – it is simply who we are today. In Australia today almost one in two people were born overseas or their parents were,’’ he said.

‘’There are so many stories in this series [U & Me] telling such a positive message about friendship and diversity.

‘’The more that corporate Australia can get on board and help share that positive message, the better it will be. We’d really welcome any support.’’

Visit www.whydocumentaries.com.au for more details.