Tenzin Khangsar loves living in Maidstone and helping connect the Tibetan community with their new life in Melbourne. He speaks with Benjamin Millar.
What is your connection with Maidstone?
I moved to Maidstone about three years ago when my partner and I bought a house here. We love this suburb.
What do you love most about the area?
I love this suburb because it is very close to Highpoint shopping centre and Footscray, it’s quiet and clean, and not too far from city.
What are your favourite local places?
I love going for walks along the Maribyrnong riverside, especially during summer time. My favourite restaurant is Roti Road in Footscray, they serve Malaysian cuisine.
Can you tell us about the Tibetan community in Melbourne?
Tibetans in Victoria are a small and emerging community, with a unique identity and cultural heritage. The first Tibetan to settle in Victoria was in 1979. Currently, there are about 500 Tibetans in Victoria. The community supports its members in adjusting to and integrating with life in Australia and maintaining their Tibetan identities.
What is your community involvement?
I have been a very active member of the Tibetan community of Victoria ever since I came to Australia. I am the current president of Tibetan Community of Victoria, from 2012 to 2014 I was the vice-president. To me, the Tibetan people and the freedom of Tibet are my top priority.
I believe in helping every single Tibetan, to advocate for their rights and help them in their daily life by doing small tasks such as reading their letters, filling forms, applying for public housing, making health-related appointments and things like helping individuals lodge applications to migrate and unite their partners from overseas.
I have also taken part in the ‘Tibet Advocacy Project’ organised by Australia Tibet council (ATC) for the last six years. During our annual visit to the Australian Parliament, we advocate for basic human rights in Tibet.
I have received awards such as Victoria’s Multicultural Award for excellence 2016 and Community Service Award from the Tibetan Community of Victoria 2017.
What can you tell us about the current situation in Tibet?
The situation in Tibet is critical and getting worse. There is repression, cultural assimilation, denial of religion and cultural freedom, environment destruction. Since 2009, 152 Tibetans have self immolated for freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan Community of Victoria, in partnership with cohealth, Foundation House, MiCare and the Australia Tibet Council, will mark Refugee Week with a celebration from 10am to 4pm on Sunday at Heavenly Queen Temple, 20 Joseph Road, Footscray. The event will recognise the plight of refugees and celebrate their culture, art, music, food and more.