Congratulations to Sherene Hassan and Maha Sukkar on being inducted into the 2018 Victorian Honour Roll of Women, alongside other exceptional women. Both Maha and Sherene work tirelessly in the community and have served so many groups and individuals. The Honour Roll provides a platform for recognition and acknowledgement of their amazing achievements.
Sherene Hassan OAM
Sherene Hassan is a tireless ambassador for the Muslim community and is dedicated to creating a more inclusive and harmonious Australia.
Sherene is the Education Director at the Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA), which promotes cross- cultural understanding. Through her museum tours, Sherene seeks to transform visitors’ perceptions about the Muslim community and promote respectful interfaith dialogue.
In 2016, in response to comments in the media advocating a ban on Muslim migration to Australia, Sherene wrote a letter to The Age reaching out to those who had shown support to the Muslim community by inviting them for coffee at the museum – ‘her shout.’ This began the incredibly successful Coffee with Sherene – the first of which was attended by actress and comedian, Magda Szubanski, who enjoyed the event so much that she urged others to get involved in bridge building activities on the ABC’s Q&A.
For eight years, Sherene served as Vice President, member of the executive committee and as media spokesperson of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Victoria’s peak body for the Muslim community.
A trailblazer for women in the Muslim community, she has mentored many young Muslim women, encouraging them to take up leadership roles.
Sherene is committed to challenging the divisive rhetoric surrounding Islam in Australia and promoting cross-cultural understanding. She has been involved in interfaith dialogue since 2001 and is passionate about building bridges with the wider community. To date, she has conducted over 1000 information sessions on Islam to diverse audiences ranging from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus School to the Australian Federal Police.
In December 2007, Sherene was selected by The Age as one of Melbourne’s 100 Most Influential people and, in 2016, was awarded Muslim Woman of the Year at the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards (AMAA).
Sherene was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on 26 January 2018.
Leading Senior Constable Maha Sukkar
Leading Senior Constable Maha Sukkar is Multicultural Liaison Officer with Victoria Police, where she promotes cross-cultural understanding to better serve the needs of the Victorian community.
In 2004, Maha Sukkar became the first Muslim policewoman in Victoria to wear a hijab, challenging stereotypes and setting a trailblazing example for police forces around the world.
In her 13 year career, Maha has taken a lead role in promoting social cohesion, breaking cross- cultural barriers, and encouraging diversity within the police. Her commitment and dedication is changing the way newly-arrived communities see the police and how police think about and engage with communities.
She is the founder and president of the Victoria Police Muslim Association (VPMA), the first police association of its kind in Australia. Sanctioned by the Chief Commissioner of Police, the VPMA promotes harmony, social cohesion and the profile of Muslim police.
Maha is highly respected for her knowledge, partnership-approach and strong relationships with the community. She uses her perspective as a woman from a culturally diverse background to strategically and proactively approach Victoria’s most complex law and order challenges, including family violence and violent extremism.
Maha has shown ground-breaking leadership in tackling underage and forced marriages. She designed and implemented culturally-specific training packages for police members and service providers, and led the Tell Someone initiative, which empowers school students to understand the issues surrounding forced and underage marriage. The initiative was a Victorian first, and received extremely positive feedback from the community and support from Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police, and the Victorian education and health departments.
She is dedicated to creating a Victoria where everyone feels welcome and safe. In 2009, Maha was named Australian Muslim Women of the Year at the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards (AMAA). In 2010, she was awarded the Australasian Council for Women and Policing Bravery Award in recognition of her work with multicultural communities.