Mariam Veiszadeh is an award winning human rights champion, lawyer, diversity & inclusion practitioner, contributing author and social commentator.
In 2021, Mariam was appointed CEO of Media Diversity Australia. She has also founded the Islamophobia Register Australia, and has held multiple board positions including formerly as Co-Chair of Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights and Our Watch.
Mariam has worked as radio commentator for the ABC radio and as a columnist for Fairfax media.
Mariam’s roles have included:
- Founder & President Islamophobia Register Australia
- CEO Media Diversity Australia
- Board member Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights
- Executive Afghan Australian Advocacy Network #ActionForAfghanistan
- Multicultural Advisory Group Australian Human Rights Commission
- Member of Human Rights Pillar UN Association of Australia (NSW Division)
- Worldwide SHEroes Mentor
- Expert Advisory Group Workplace Cultural Diversity Tool Australian Human Rights Commission
- Advisory Committee Welcoming Australia
- Former Membership & Advisory Director Diversity Council Australia
- Former Board Director Our Watch
Mariam has also delivered a TEDxSydney speech and featured as an Anti-Racism Champion by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
With many accolades to her name including Fairfax Daily Life 2016 Woman of the year, she’s renowned for influencing positive change both in the workplace and in society more broadly and her influence is felt in the many initiatives she promotes across her social media platforms in which she collectively has over 50,000 + followers.
In 2017, Mariam addressed an audience of approximately 4000+ in her TEDx Sydney talk to shed light on the issue of societal privilege and how it creates an unequal playing field for diverse minority groups. She successfully mounted the case for why cultural diversity targets are required to help create more of a meritocracy and stamp out racism and discrimination in the corporate sector.
She has been described as a woman who uses her “considerable wit and smarts to punch holes in the stupidity of racism, sexism and xenophobia in general” and someone who has “courage, tenacity and perseverance without the protection and resources afforded by public office.”
As a fearless advocate, Mariam is accustomed to being both an advocate against and a victim of xenophobia. In 2015, she made global headlines as she endured months of cyber-bullying for simply speaking out against bigotry. Australians responded by rallying behind Mariam using the hashtag #IstandwithMariam.
Mariam was born in Afghanistan and came to Australia in 1990 with her family as a refugee and has long been a vocal champion of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. When Kabul fell in August last year, Mariam was at the forefront of advocating for Australia to increase its humanitarian intake.
Mariam has many accolades to her name which include the following:
- Finalist Human Rights Awards 2018 Australian Human Rights Commission
- Welcoming Australia Life Member Award 2021
- Australia Post Inspiring Australians Series 2021
- Distinguished Service Award Our Watch Board 2020
- Woman of the Year 2016 Fairfax Daily Life
- Community Champion Finalist Western Sydney Uni Alumni Awards 2017
- TedXSydney Speaker Alumni 2017
- Woman of Influence 2015 Westpac Group
- 12 Women Changing the World Change Maker Elle Magazine Malaysia 2015
- Woman of the Year Australian Muslim Achievement Awards 2015
- Role Model of the Year Australian Muslim Achievement Awards 2015
- Woman of the Year Finalist Daily Life Fairfax 2015
- Get Up International Women’s Day Honours 2015
- Community Champion Finalist, Western Sydney University Alumni Awards 2017
Through her various ambassador roles, including as an ambassador for Welcome to Australia which provides a positive voice in the public conversation around asylum seekers and refugees, and her social media platforms, Mariam advocates for equal opportunity and inclusion for all people within our society.
<Why I no longer wear hijab? –> read my post here >
My story of my journey to Australia on Welcome to Australia:
I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan during the Soviet War in 1984.
I, like every other human being living on this earth, didn’t exercise any choice in where, or the circumstances in which I would be born.
Due to the Soviet war my family had to flee Afghanistan in 1988.
Our journey took us from Kabul to India, to the Czech Republic, followed by Germany and then finally we were granted asylum in Australia in 1991 under the Refugee and Special Humanitarian program.
I was enrolled in school both in India and Germany, each time making new friends and learning a completely new language.
Upon arrival in Australia I was immediately enrolled into English as Second Language (ESL) classes.
Now when I reflect on my humble beginnings, it is still unbelievable to think that I arrived in Australia as a shy 7 year old who couldn’t speak a word of English.
I will be forever grateful to Australia for the educational opportunities I have been given and for allowing my family and I, to call Australia our ‘home’.
I am often saddened though by the conduct of some of our politicians and media personalities who seem to be peddling peoples’ prejudices rather than challenging them.
Multiculturalism is here to stay and not just in the form of Chinese dumplings and Turkish kebabs so let’s all work towards ensuring that the Australia that we all call home, doesn’t just seek to tolerate diversity, but rather, celebrates it.
Mariam Veiszadeh, Lawyer and Muslim Community Advocate
Originally published on Welcome to Australia website
Thank you Jenna Price for writing this wonderful piece about me.
Freedom of Religion is a really great thing Jenna Price 18 Sept 2012