Meet Domina, our Youth Ambassador Network (YAN) 2020 representative from New South Wales!
1. Who is Maria Domina Augustine?
I am a 22-year-old young South Indian woman who migrated to Australia. I’m a Bharatanatyam and Indian dancer and I am currently working as a disability support worker.
2. What sparks a fire in you, and why?
I feel as though there is so much wrong in the world, it can be really hard to know what to focus on and what to do. Whilst being on this journey, I’ve found the most useful way to go about this, is to use my personal experience and unique insight to create change – that being within the south Indian community. So I find the thing that I’m most passionate about, the thing that pulls on my heartstrings, is the Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence within my community. That’s what I want to address. I don’t know exactly how yet, but I just know I have to.
3. What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
I’ve been volunteering with Race2Raise and have helped to raise a lot of money for a charity called Palmera. They’re an amazing organisation because they work differently and sustainably. They work specifically within one village at a time and stay put for 5-7 years, empowering women and alleviating poverty. This year we reached our target of raising $35,000 and being a part of that was incredibly humbling and rewarding.
4. Who is your hero and why?
My hero is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because she has such conviction and belief in herself and what she stands for, and isn’t afraid to put herself out there in the public eye. Even if that puts her in a vulnerable position. She’s also a remarkable human and isn’t afraid of showing her growing and learning. It’s quite inspiring.
5. What is your most treasured possession?
Nothing material. I’d say definitely my friendships. I love my friends – they’re all magical people, doing big, great, important things for the world. I tend to have really long and meaningful chats with them about the world…about who we want to be and what we want to achieve. I always leave those chats feeling so empowered and invigorated – my friends challenge me to be better, and they support me fiercely too. I couldn’t live without them, without their ambition or guidance.
6. Why did you apply to be the MYAN YAN representative for NSW?
I honestly applied to learn more, to hear more voices that I don’t hear and make sure those are amplified and invited and welcomed to these conversations – and if along the way I make someone’s life a little easier, then I’ll be proud of that achievement.
7. What skills and talents are you bringing to the YAN 2020?
I’m one of those people who loves to support others on their journeys. I think that’s my role as a supporter – someone who doesn’t have to create something revolutionary but is there to be the support for people who do. I think encouraging and helping people to realise their dreams is so important. I’m also an empathetic person, and I think that’s important to make sure that a broad spectrum of voices and all intersections of young people can be heard and included.
8. What are you hoping to achieve in 2020 as YAN’s NSW representative?
It’s taken me a while to work out what I really want to do, but now I have it’s pretty simple, really. I want to support the marginalised voices of intersectional young people to be heard and welcomed into the conversations of making sustainable, needs-based change. I also want to bring people in my community together and encourage dialogue between them, and make connections with organisations out there already doing great work to make an even bigger impact.
9. What advice do you have for young people wanting to make a difference in the world?
I believe young people of colour struggle to engage in political activism on a national basis, as there are many struggles within our communities such as violence, lack of culturally sensitive mental health services, and inequalities of race, gender and queerness, that inhibit our ability to fully and safely engage within Australian society. I’d say we all just have to try. We don’t have to know all the answers yet, or even what how to act, we just have to try something – whether that’s a conversation or volunteering. Any small act is important – we should not diminish ourselves being a valuable part of change-making because we think we are not ready. We are. If you are passionate, you are ready.
10. How can young people get involved in the work you do?
They can join Race to Raise and support Palmera here. https://www.race2raise.com/
You can read more about Palmera and the work they do here. https://palmera.org/
You can donate to the 2020 Race to Raise here. https://chuffed.org/project/racetoraise2020