Today I participated in a frank conversation with fellow activist Sakdiyah Ma’ruf from Jakarta, on the topic “Islamophobia… please explain?” for a student conference at the University of Melbourne.
Sakdiyah and I talked through our experiences of living through political and personal challenges in this social climate.
The University of Melbourne MD Student Conference conference brings together all 1400 students within the Melbourne Medical School, aiming to explore facets of medicine outside the standard curriculum to stimulate ideas and inspire the next generation of doctors.
This is the seventh iteration of the MDSC, an entirely student-run conference facilitated by the Melbourne Medical School, and it has been a defining component of the postgraduate Doctor of Medicine (MD) Program since its inception.
The theme of Day One of this four day conference was Invisible Powers: Privilege and Identity. Since doctors may be advocates for marginalised voices usually pushed aside by louder, more powerful forces, they must understand how power & privilege interplay to impact the health of their patients.
Throughout our conversation Sakdiyah and I fielded varied questions, including:
Is Australia racist ? How has it shaped who you are ? Shariah law and jihadism- your views? Is radicalisation a big issue?
Have you faced discrimination?
What are your opinions on the current political climate? Are you feeling less safe? Is there a greater degree of alienation? Has it decreased your faith in mainstream society?
Integration versus assimilation?
The session objective was to educate students of the possible social and cultural issues facing patients . And further, to allow students to acknowledge the wider political systems and structures that contribute to covert discrimination impacting their patients.
In all this was a dynamic session. The attentive audience suggested a piqued interest in identity politics. I hope the curiosity to pursue diversity training occurs in more institutions. Kudos to the University of Melbourne for a progressive approach to social inclusion from across the sector.