Combining Coding and Culture with Community Citizen of the Year

  • 21 March 2023

When looking at how we as individuals can contribute to our community, the skills and knowledge we have that can be imparted to others is advantageous for making a difference. Jawaria Mahmood uses both her professional and personal experience to support others.

Having moved to Perth from Pakistan, she has observed gaps in cultural and religious acknowledgements that would encourage fellow migrants to feel a sense of belonging in Australia. She also has a tech background, which she has utilised to highlight opportunities and inspire young students to consider STEM careers.

“My husband and I moved here because of its strong history of culture and diversity and resilience of the people. We never looked back, but there were things that I found were missing. Having a tech background and migrant background, this is where I feel I fit in.”

group of women smiling at camera

In the 10 years since, Jawaria has seen development and growth aided by her own work and broader society. She runs bilingual storytime workshops in libraries within the City of Gosnells and City of Canning, while her tech background has resulted in work with Engineers Australia and Edith Cowan University to support coding and robotics education.

Currently, Jawaria is collaborating with Engineers Australia D&I Working Group to help schools across WA access the many outreach programs available, by creating a centralised database of events and expos according to the various locations, dates and costs.

people sitting around a table in a workshop

On the cultural side of things, Jawaria has teamed up with Maddington Central so that Ramadan can be suitably recognised and celebrated for the community. For one month, there is a donation drive for local charity, Muslim Women Support Centre (MWSC) – connected by Jawaria – with a large shining moon on display where visitors can donate. There are also mannequins around the centre, wearing traditional clothing.

“My child has always felt this was missing, asking why Ramadan wasn’t being celebrated. We belong here, it’s our home and we want to feel connected. Over the years, it’s being recognised more and more. Not just Ramadan, but Chinese New Year, so there’s more acknowledgment for other communities. It is amazing to see how we are becoming more inclusive and accepting. It’s very exciting for the Muslim community – I always knew that when it happened, I was going to be a part of the project.”

For her breadth of community contribution, Jawaria was recognised in the 2023 Community Citizen of the Year Awards by the City of Gosnells. Since then, she has been interviewed by local press, been invited to opportunities with the council and met fellow community leaders working in different spaces. She has also been chosen as a participant for Auspire’s 2023 Multicultural Leadership Program.

three women smiling at camera holding newspaper

For Jawaria, she is in the space where she can contribute the most, and so she encourages others to find the space that’s right for them.

“This is the space where you are putting in countless voluntary hours, so it’s definitely your passion that drives you. I think that’s why you see so many different groups and social categories represented in the Awards – from kids and families, to women, to migrants and the disability sector. There are multiple areas that need work, so you can choose where you feel your values align. Follow your passion and purpose and start from where you feel you belong.”

The 2023 Community Citizen of the Year Awards are proudly supported by the Department of Communities, 9News Perth, 6PR Perth and WA Today.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2024 Awards. Nominate here:

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