28 July 2022
South Sudanese radio program celebrates culture and connectivity
CMY’s Thuch Ajak hosts a weekly South Sudanese radio program, proudly supported by the Community Support Group, to give a voice to his local community. He sat down with CMY’s Bianca Asanache to talk about how the program is connecting its diverse audience, celebrating culture, and fostering unity.
The South Sudanese program, which airs on Casey Community Radio every Tuesday from 7-8pm, was born out of the South Sudanese Community Support Group (CSG) in Casey and Dandenong, which is auspiced by the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY). It was felt there was a need for the local community to have a voice, and a platform to share information from and for the community.
“It’s about celebrating our diversity and the culture within the community, and also using it as a platform to showcase some of the great work which is being done in the community,” Thuch said.
Thuch has always played an active role in his local community, having worked in both local and state government and as an electoral officer before joining CMY, as well as being a Refugee Resource Hub Manager with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Dandenong.
With an interest in creative pursuits such as poetry, Thuch used to present on a radio station before coming to Australia, and when he arrived here volunteered his time at a local radio station for a few sessions. When the opportunity came up with the CSG and Casey Community Radio, it seemed like a natural fit for him.
He hosts many members of the South Sudanese community, including service providers, faith leaders, community leaders and young people, to open a way for others to know about them and hear about the work they are doing in the local community.
Then of course, there is always music!
“South Sudan is comprised of 64 tribes and each tribe has its own language, which means that one week I may choose a song from one community, and the following week from another.”
In a recent episode, Thuch interviewed South Sudanese author Akuch Kuol Anyieth. Guests can join from the comfort of their homes, and be part of important conversations that reach a wider audience through the internet. (You can check out all of the recent episodes here).
The program shares important community messages, for example latest updates about COVID-19 in a number of different South Sudanese languages. It’s also a space for the CSG and other service providers in the area to promote their upcoming events, opportunities or programs that may of interest to the local community.
“It’s a way of mobilising people and letting community know what other services are available out there. Community should own the program and tell us what they want to hear from us.”
Thuch says information is currency and the vital tool to engage the community.
“Before I started [hosting the program], I used to tune in and listen, because I connect myself to the music and I connect myself to what is being said there. So, I see myself as playing a very vital role in my community… a very people-oriented role in terms of being a trusted media.”
Ideally, he sees the South Sudanese radio program as a space that connects and unites diverse members of the community together under a common cultural identity.
“We need to understand that there’s a generation, which is my generation, that is deeply embedded into those cultural norms, and then we have generations of my children that are born here and they will grow with the current [culture]. So they will grow up feeling off balance because they are trying to make their way around the two cultures.”
Thuch believes that the radio program should become a centrepiece that connects the generations, while also encouraging others to create the same environment where people feel that they can open up with each other.
“Young people now are really struggling because at the moment we don’t have our own media to give them positive messages or to get them to learn about their culture. There’s a void because they don’t have culturally appropriate resources they can tap into for help and support. […] But if there is a voice in the community that can tell them that they are doing great, that they have achieved a lot, then they will become comfortable with who they are.”
Thuch says the number of listeners is increasing day by day and there is interest from the community to keep it going.
“We want to be inclusive, we want to be a unifying factor and a learning hub for people’s cultures. We avoid talking about politics or religion, and concentrate on things of the common good.”
Tune in to the South Sudanese radio program on Casey Community Radio every Tuesday, from 7-8pm, or find out more here.
Find out more about the work of the Community Support Groups here.