Volunteering is a way of life for community icon Dilnaz Billimoria
To those in Melbourne’s Parsee community, Dilnaz Billimoria is a well-loved figure.
Her genuine desire to make life a little more liveable for many in need, especially new migrants, has seen her become a role model and icon in the community.
This Australia Day, she was recognised for her efforts with the 2016 Menzies Community Australia Day Award, presented by Kevin Andrews MP (Federal Member for Menzies), and the 2016 Whitehorse Australia Day Civic Award for Community Achievement, presented by Mayor Philip Daw.
“Being a Parsee migrant myself, and a descendent of ancestors who fled persecution by the Arab invaders in the 7th century, I understand the barriers migrants face and wish to ease their transition into the Great Southern Land with a warm and welcoming environment,” Billimoria told Indian Link. “As a migrant here myself, I understand the difficulties involved in moving to a new country and want to make sure that no matter where you come from, there will always be friends waiting to appreciate your arrival.”
A workplace diversity specialist within the finance industry, Dilnaz is an upstanding citizen and ambassador in the community for multiculturalism. After her day job, you will usually find her running off to a committee meeting, helping set-up an event or working with councillors and organisations on new community events.
Over a decade ago, she started volunteering with the City of Whitehorse on projects like the Human Book Project and Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, and assisting at local op shops. She also became a member of the Manningham Interfaith Network, Women’s Interfaith Network and Centre for Melbourne Multi-faith and Other Network.
These days, she is busy organising faith tours, volunteering at the Migration Settlement Centre and working on projects such as the ‘Matters of Trust’ seminar that helps elderly people stay alert to financial abuse.
Blessed with unbounded energy and a bright personality, Billimoria is always on the go and confident in her stride. But she is always willing to stop for a quick chat, ready with a smile and a warm embrace.
A deeply spiritual person, Dilnaz is a member of a very old monotheistic religion. Founded by Zarathushtra around 3,500 years ago in the city of Yazd, located in ancient Iran (Persia), Zoroastrianism has had a profound influence on the development of eastern and western civilisation. Predating Islam, Christianity and Judaism, Zoroastrians worship the fire (purity) and practice three simple tenets: good words, good thoughts and good deeds. They pray to Ahura Mazda and practice the law of Asha – the divine order of things.
Although her own faith is very important in her life, Billimoria respects all other faiths equally.
“I am sure that all faiths and cultures encourage their followers to assist all mankind,” she remarked.
She wishes to educate the public on diverse faiths and likes all cultures to participate in sharing their skills.
Through the course of her work, Billimoria has come in contact with people of diverse backgrounds. This has led to an engagement with activities that help to promote understanding, increased tolerance and greater acceptance.
She has organised faith tours to different places of worship, seminars on meditation and yoga, lessons on spirituality through music and dance, and workshops for refugees and asylum seekers on their role, rights and responsibilities.
She has served on the committee at Manningham Council to discuss issues surrounding violence against women. She has worked with refugees and members of CALD background understand their rights to access health resources. As well, she regularly participates in International Women’s Day events organised in Whitehorse and Boroondara, to make women aware of opportunities and to continue to work towards gender equality. She recently worked with the Whitehorse Interfaith Network on organising a panel event for the public to witness the stories of an asylum seeker’s journey to Australia.
Dilnaz is also a great leader and team player. She has volunteered, for some years now, as the MC for the Global Fiesta and Harmony Day events in Whitehorse as part of Cultural Diversity Week in March and the Spring Festival in October for the Multicultural Stage.
As a well-spoken role model, Dilnaz embodies a can-do and down-to-earth persona. Her free and giving nature is remarkable and many people respect her because she is positive and productive, bubbly and proactive.
She never misses an opportunity to inspire others towards community work.
“Volunteering takes passion, professionalism and patience – the three Ps, I say. A volunteer has to be committed to the cause and has to be passionate about helping and supporting others. It comes from the heart. Never take ‘no’ for an answer and search for a win-win solution.”
She advises everyone to volunteer in whatever way possible “It will help you become a better person at work and at home.”