Working towards social justice

Surf Coast Shire's latest Local Legend Hutch Hussein. (Louisa Jones) 414507_06

Torquay’s Hutch Hussein is the latest Surf Coast Shire Local Legend for helping promote social inclusion across the region and state.

Ms Hussein’s parents moved from Cyprus to Australia in the 1970s before she was born, motivating her to ensure the next generation of refugee migrants had support services available.

“My mother was 17 when she came here and didn’t know a word of English. She had me at 20, and my father was 24 when he came over on a boat,” she said.

“There wasn’t the migrant and refugee settlement services that there are now. So, my mother learned English at the same time as I did watching Play School…and dad learnt English at work.”

“Making sure that people feel a sense of belonging both socially and economically, and they feel they can contribute, means we benefit from all their talents.

“I’ve spent 20 years of my career working specifically in the refugee and migrant space and it’s really important to make sure people have a positive settlement experience.”

The Local Legend Award recognised Ms Hussein’s contributions to First Nations reconciliation through volunteer leadership and the creation of the Surf Coast Reconciliation Group.

She also founded the Surf Coast Rainbow Families group, which has organised social gatherings for families since 2019.

“It’s really exciting and really touching to have been nominated by my colleagues in what was a collective effort of putting a campaign together for the Voice referendum,” Ms Hussein said.

“This award belongs to the 900 volunteers who stood up across the Surf Coast region and did their best to make sure that people made an informed vote.

“It (Surf Coast Rainbow Families group) provides an opportunity for people to meet others, share experiences, and be a part of that sense of community.

“It’s also getting kids to meet other kids who’ve got two dads or two mums. It can feel a bit isolating if they’re at a school that doesn’t have other rainbow families.”

Ms Hussein said inclusion and social justice were her central passions and had inspired her career and volunteer roles.

“I’m really driven by making sure that people participate in our democracy and take opportunities where we can to advance equality in our society,” she said.

“I’ve mentored candidates, but I’ve also been mentoring young women who’ve expressed an interest in going into politics, which can be a male-dominated field.

“So, they often need that bit more encouragement to let them know they too have a rightful place, and the parliament needs people that look like them and have their experiences.”