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Melb Seniors scene

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Awareness of domestic violence issues and a musical Mother’s Day celebration kept seniors busy
KISCA Mums 2
Indian Senior Citizens Association (ISCA) recently invited speakers who enlightened members about the evil climate of family violence that is rampant within Australian communities. It was hard to believe that family violence exists in the Indian community as well, even here in Australia.
President Prem Phakey introduced Poonam Mehra, from Hum Tum, and Roshan Bhandari from In Touch, Australia government initiatives that solace victims and also educate perpetrators. These are Task Force committees set up to create awareness about respectful relationships and gender equality within the eastern region Indian community of Melbourne. Their objectives are to alter the culturally lingering minus attitudes and behaviours against family violence, and to promote mutual trust. Also to encourage effective communication and help build self esteem. Their motto is: Break the SilenceLet us Talk.
Poonam informed attendees that they have already and rather successfully completed two activities, Peace Prayers for the victims of family violence on White Ribbon Day in 2012, and by screening a free film Lajja, which deals with the issues of family violence. Roshan from Cultural and Linguistic Care  advised us of the CALC’s motto, which is to deal with family violence preferably before it occurs. At present, CALC is engaged in dealing primarily with the Indian community, and also with the Sudanese and the Vietnamese communities. Sunila Srivastava, from Sankat Mochan committee, also motivated us to utilise facilities the government extends to us.
Poonam now invited Gary Ferguson, Community Education Coordinator from Seniors Rights Victoria, at The Council For The Ageing (COTA) office in the CBD. Gary was rather specific, and occasionally blunt. “You think since this has never happened to you before, so it will never happen?” Gary argued. Through a Powerpoint projection, he presented data that was an eye-opener. In the 2011 census, presented Gary, we were 21.5 million Australians, out of which 5.53 million were Victorians, 14% of whom were 65 years plus. “The cultural code of ‘what happens in the family must remain in the family’, which dictates the Indian psyche, must be broken,” said Gary vehemently while detailed factors that are tantamount to senior abuse. Mistreatment. Physical neglect. Insults. Fraud. Financial-psychological-emotional abuse, even sexual abuse of seniors is rampant in our society. The best thing about Seniors Rights Victoria, Gary stated, was that SRV experts visit you at home if you cannot be at their office for any reason. They also arrange and pay for interpreters and solicitors, and also court fees, if the matter ends up in the courts.
Gary advised the 150 fifty members present to heed his discourse, because once we leave the meeting hall, we shall cease to be just seniors, but shall be educators in the community. He insisted that we promote a culture to talk, to ask questions, and to remember that help is available. SRV also has an office in Bendigo.
President Phakey now introduced Police Sargent Michelle Clooney, of the Family Violence Division. Excited to be promoting a valid cause, Michelle appeared out of breath and member Lalji very thoughtfully, brought her a glass of water. Sgt Clooney’s message was profoundly straightforwarded: “In case of need, call the police. Help is just a phone call away. Report if you see abuse taking place in your neighbourhood and in your community,” Michelle advised. The speakers of the day were presented with token gifts and free literature and booklets were at hand. Gary Ferguson may be contacted at 9655 2112, and Poonam Mehra on 0470594374.
Tandoori Junction served the delicious lunch at this enlightening meet. Wish our Bharat could have such facilities available for her citizens!
ISCA meets every second Saturday of the month. For more information, please call President Phakey on 9560 9607.
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Kingston Indian Senior Citizens Association (KISCA) celebrated Mother’s Day with dhoom-dhaam. Seventy odd members, invited artists and invited paying guests – displaying their chosen jewellery and dressed in their best Mother’s Day apparel, filled the hall. But as is usually the case, no lady could match the selection of pure gold jewellery and its irresistible abundance dispassionately displayed by Mrs Pooran Lal. President Mona Raju picked a beautiful mildly cream-coloured sari from her collection to grace the occasion.
As always, the afternoon began by thanking the Lord for His many blessings with a bhajan ‘Tum hi ho mata, pita tumheen ho,…’ Next Mona announced, Aaj ki shaam pyaari maan ke naam.Suman Moolchandani read a poignant poem in memory of her mother, while Ashoka Jamini read his piece, and so did many other members. Pooran Lalji apologised for karaoke-ing an irrelevant ‘Mera joota hai Japani’ while veteran Barbara Nagaya also sang a karoke oldie ‘Ai dil mujhe bata de, tu kis pe aa gaya hai’. Raj Babbar sold raffle tickets, whilemany members carried the latest issue of Indian Link and shared relevant news with others. The air buzzed with excitement, activity and Bhojpuri/Purabia dialects from Fiji Indians.
Accompanied by his family, now arrived Sateyendra Misra from Guru Radhey Shyam Gupta’s Sangeet Sandhya, a monthly program of dance and music that is presented by Sharda Kala Kendra. Mona welcomed and introduced them, and immediately Saurav, the son-in-law, in his rich voice, presented ‘Sri Ram Chandra kripalu ….’ in pertinent Raag Yaman, which is necessarily sung around the hours of 6 -7pm. The family joined in, singing many Bollywood songs. Misraji’s granddaughters aged 12 and 7, delighted us with a Shri 420 song, “Ichchak-danabichchak-dana”. Misraji himself attempted a rather difficult  number only Manna De could tackle, that of ‘Yeh vandana sun hamaari, daras tere maange yeh tera pujaari.’ Misraji sang another demanding Manna De, in Raag Hansa Dhwani and in Braj Bhasha, which Lord Krishna himself favoured, ‘Jaa, to se naheen boloon, Kanahiya. Raah chalat pakre mori bahinya.’
The raffle was drawn, and all the mothers were honoured with token gifts donated by members. The meal that followed was delicious.
KISCA meet every third Sunday of the month. For more information, please call President Raju on 9782 8973.

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