A Taste of Harmony feat Huss Mustafa OAM – 19 to 29 Mar VIC

A Taste of Harmony feat Huss Mustafa OAM – 19 to 29 Mar VIC

A Taste of Harmony is a free and delicious way to celebrate your workplace’s cultural diversity.  With one in four workers coming from overseas, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate Australia’s diverse workforce. A Taste of Harmony is an annual event that provides Australian workplaces with the opportunity to celebrate the diversity in their workforce. A Taste of Harmony will take place in the week of 19–29 March, 2018.

Funded by the Scanlon Foundation, workplaces are asked to register and then organise a lunch or afternoon/morning tea and encourage workers to bring a dish that represents their cultural background or from a culture they might not have tried before. At the event workers are encouraged to share stories of their cultural background.

Huss Mustafa OAM

My family and I arrived in Melbourne on Cup Day in 1968, seeking a better life, following conflict in our homeland of Cyprus.  After a gruelling 23-day journey by boat, I began at the local state school two days later. At the age of 10, my brother and I were the only ones in the class who could not speak English.

Think about that.

Going to school in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne as the only non-Anglo kid I was bullied, even bashed by other kids and stirred about what I ate for lunch. I learnt to develop a taste for Vegemite sandwiches, as it was easier than being picked on for the olives, cucumber and Vienna bread I used to eat hiding behind the shelter sheds.

They say one’s childhood experiences really make them the person they are.

At parent-teacher interviews I had to translate to my parents. My teacher said they shouldn’t expect much from me, and the only career options I should consider were becoming a butcher or a baker.

I promised myself that I would prove that teacher wrong.

Five years and two months later, I had knuckled down, studied hard and at the age 16 I received a letter of offer to work at the State Bank of Victoria – now Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

Seeking a sense of belonging, I went by the name Chris. To this day, there are past colleagues who still know me by this name. I identify with Chinese and Indian Australians who adopt an Anglo-Saxon name. I went by Chris for 12 years before I decided to proudly identify with my birth name at work.

I believe it’s important that we all identify with the names from our cultures of origin. Nicknames can be a good means to overcome difficulty in pronunciation – like how I sport Huss rather than Huseyin. It’s very Australian to give a nickname and it’s a sign of affection. What’s important is that we’re still identifying with out culture proudly, and not adopting alternate identities to assimilate.

I went on to complete undergraduate studies in accounting as well as a Post Graduate Diploma of Financial Services Management and a Masters of Management degree from Macquarie University. I became the first Turkish Bank Manager in Australia, where I learnt my cultural identity and bilingual ability had strong value for the business.

I have now been with CBA for 44 years and am General Manager of Multicultural Community Banking, Australia, and I’ve been a proud ambassador of A Taste of Harmony for 6 years. It heartens me to see colleagues coming together and engaging in positive and friendly conversations about where we’re from and the rich diversity that makes us great.

I encourage you to register your workplace to hold A Taste of Harmony event, and start meaningful discussions in your workplace about diversity and inclusion.

About A Taste of Harmony 

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