24 September 2020



6PM TO 7.30PM, ACST,
6.30PM TO 8.00PM, AEST

Online Event
Presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and Australian Refugee Association (ARA) 


Today’s globalised world is a paradox. We have the power to curate our own homogenous “bubbles” of opinion and identity while societies are becoming more diverse and multicultural than ever. But Australia’s prescribed identity as a multicultural society has not challenged the systemic Anglo-centric bias in our institutions, media, governance and daily life itself. To truly thrive in a globalised world, there is a pressing need for intercultural competence: the ability to communicate, think, act and work effectively and appropriately across cultures.

Where does Australia sit on the spectrum of intercultural competence? What are the key steps to take in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities to become more interculturally competent? How do we deal with the forces of denial that refuse to acknowledge there is anything wrong? As COVID-19 fractures globalism into geopolitical blocks, what are the long-term challenges for interculturalism in a post-pandemic world?

Join us for an evening of insights and learnings from our panel:

  • Professor Mohamad Abdalla AM, University of South Australia, on what Islamic Studies can teach us about interculturalism
  • Associate Professor Tahereh Ziaian, University of South Australia, on the connection between intercultural communications and mental health
  • Associate Professor Shanton Chang, The University of Melbourne, on the relationship between culture and information systems
  • Facilitator: Sowaibah Hanifie, Journalist

Please register your interest so that we can keep you up-to-date and to send you a link to view this online broadcast.



Professor Mohamad Abdalla AM has worked in Islamic Studies for over 20 years, and played a leading role in establishing Islamic Studies as an academic area of study in Australia. He has a Doctorate PhD Research in Islamic Studies and is a Professor of Islamic Studies.

Previously, he was the Founding Director of the Griffith University Islamic Research Unit (GIRU), Griffith University. He played a key role in the establishment of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies (NCEIS), a dynamic collaboration between the University of Melbourne, Griffith University and the University of Western Sydney. He served as the Director of the NCEIS at Griffith University. Other appointments include Senior Research Fellow at the Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance, Griffith University.

He has been working at the grassroot level for over 25 years. Immediately after 9/11, and the burning of his local Mosque, he travelled across Australia to build bridges of understanding between people. He was involved in high-profile academic, community and media engagement; and attained numerous civic awards, including Community Leadership Award; Islamic Council of Queensland Community Service Award; Crescents of Brisbane Special Achievement Award; Australian Muslim Man of the year; Ambassador for Peace Award; and Pride of Australia Medal (Finalist).

In 2020, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service, for his significant service to education in the field of Islamic studies. His co-edited books include: Islamic schooling in the West: Pathways to Renewal (Palgrave MacMillan), Leadership in Islam: Processes and Solutions in Australian Organizations (Palgrave MacMillan), and Islam and the Australian News Media (Melbourne University Press).

Australian Human Rights Commission: The History of Islam in Australia, Professor Mohamad Abdalla 
RNZ: Muslim in Australia, Professor Mohamad Abdalla



Associate Professor Tahereh Ziaian, is a Community Health Psychologist at the Justice and Society Academic Unit, the University of South Australia, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of New South Wales. Her career been devoted to improving the psychological health and wellbeing of communities and minority groups from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds. She is driven by a powerful personal commitment to contribute to the realisation of a socially inclusive, just and fair society as an informed advocate for those who struggle to have their voices heard. She is nationally and internationally respected, exceptionally productive researcher and an innovative teacher. She is possessing a deep-seated aspiration to support and prepare her students for a future of inclusionary practice.

Professor Ziaian has published widely and has been awarded many competitive research grants. One of her current research is a large ARC funded international project on “Rebuilding Life after Migration for Young Refugees and Migrants”. This multi-national research will provide a comprehensive understanding of refugee and migrant youth settlement experiences and their impact on psychological wellbeing and the role of support services in Australia, USA and Canada, with a focus on the policies and practices that shape the settlement experiences of refugee and migrant youth.

Professor Ziaian is specialised in the field of Transcultural mental health and public health and is recognised as a leading researcher in this field both nationally and internationally. She is regularly invited to share her knowledge and expertise in both an industry and academic context. One of the many examples is invited distinguished speaker at the United Nations’ 8th Annual Psychology Day in New York City (2015). Her research has also influenced national policies in relation to multicultural mental health and has achieved research impact both nationally and internationally. 

Article: UniSA finds education and support helps young refugees thrive



Associate Professor Shanton Chang is Associate Dean (International) at the Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne. He has been involved in building the internship program at the university, mentoring students, and engaging with industry partners to enable positive graduate outcomes for students.

His research includes the exploration of human information behaviours, information needs and the use of social media in public health, education and businesses. He also has experience in working within culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities, including looking at the complexities of intersectional challenges.

He is currently the Digital Access and Equity Program Co-lead at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI) and Connected Health Working Group Co-Chair at the Melbourne Centre Digital Transformation of Health (CDTH). 

Twitter: @ShantonChang
Article: The Truth is out there (if only I could find it)



Sowaibah Hanifie is a journalist with the ABC, currently based in Darwin. In 2019 she won the South Australian Governor’s Media award for her reporting on culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

She has also been a finalist for a number of other media awards in the three years she’s been working in the industry. Sowaibah has a commitment to empowering people from diverse communities to achieve their best in environments that embrace the multicultural society that we are.

ABC News Archive: Sowaibah Hanifie
Twitter: @sowaibahH


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Presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and Australian Refugee Association (ARA) 

While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.


While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.