Being inclusive begins with a smile

21/Mar/2019     Mission

On Harmony Day, 21 March, Mater joins Australia in celebrating the richness of our cultural diversity while also reflecting on what we have in common. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

Since coming to Australia from Taiwan as an overseas student 15 years ago, Mater’s Maggie Hsieh has felt welcome and supported at every step.

“I had great mentors at Queensland University of Technology. When I graduated, I was amazed by the support of one mentor in particular, who introduced me to people and gave me advice about getting a job in Australia. It was through him that I got a job at Griffith University,” Maggie said.

“Throughout university, my lecturers told me to just reach out to others and ask for advice, and they were right. People were just so willing to help. I think it’s part of Aussie culture to do so.”

Maggie found Mater just as welcoming when she joined the organisation two and a half years ago.

“I felt like I was ‘home’ when I came to Mater. Everyone is so friendly.”

Maggie has enjoyed the opportunity to use her language skills and knowledge of different cultures in her role of Senior Manager – Donor Relationships at Mater Foundation.

“I speak Taiwanese and Mandarin, which has been invaluable in building relationships with the Taiwanese and Chinese communities, both of which have long-standing relationships with Mater.”

Maggie is grateful for the all of the help she has received since coming to Australia—and Mater—and never hesitates to do the same for others. 

“Whenever I meet someone who reminds me of myself 15 years ago, I always reach out to them,” Maggie said.

“I know what they’re probably going through with the language barrier and cultural differences. I know that they might not know where to go to find a job or services, so I try to give them some contacts.”

Maggie has some simple advice that we can all follow to make members of our community feel welcome and included.

“Something as simple as a smile can make a big difference. Say hello and be curious and interested in different cultures. 

“Even after all these years, I really appreciate it when people talk to me and ask me about my culture, my background and which language I speak.”

“So make the effort to say hello when you meet someone from a different cultural background. It’s a small way to make them feel more comfortable and more confident.”

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