Over 280 individuals from diverse backgrounds and communities convened on Sunday 20 August at the Parra Villa Function Lounge in Parramatta for House of Sakinah’s Annual Event, focussing this year on the pressing issue of homelessness while inspiring collective action for change.

The overarching theme of the event, “Hope To Home: Managing Expectations,” set the stage for a vital discussion centred on homelessness and its multifaceted impact featuring a panel of speakers including Maha Abdo OAM, CEO of Muslim Women Australia; Yumi Lee, CEO of OWN NSW (Older Women’s Network); Firdousi Obeidullah, Managing Director of House of Sakinah; and Gandhi Sindyan, Community Liaison Officer at Campsie Police Area Command.

Facilitating the panel was Osman Karolia, Principal of Arkana College who also has first hand experience with feeding and taking care of the homeless in Sydney.

The panel delved into the intricacies of homelessness and its ripple effects, emphasising the urgency of understanding and addressing this issue.

Yumi Lee drew attention to the often-overlooked problem of domestic violence among the elderly and within nursing homes, shedding light on the vulnerability of older women while Gandhi Sindyan provided insight into the role of the police in assisting domestic violence victims and those experiencing homelessness.

Tony Bleasdale OAM, Mayor of Blacktown stated, “We are acutely aware of the vulnerability of many of our residents. In 2021, Blacktown City recorded over 2,000 domestic violence-related assault charges. This is not acceptable, and the Council remains committed to turning the tide.”

His words echoed the dedication of local leadership to tackle this issue head-on and create a safer community for all.

“Family and domestic violence is also the main reason women and children leave their homes. Many of these will become homeless, rendering them vulnerable to further violence. Our 20-year housing vision is for a city that promotes diverse and affordable housing for its current and future communities. We will continue to work with governments to ensure more affordable housing is made available to our residents,” Mr Bleasdale further added.

The event also featured a lineup of distinguished speakers who added their voices to the conversation.

Warren Kirby MP, Rais Khan, and Dr Mehreen Faruqi addressed the audience, expressing their commitment to addressing domestic violence and homelessness within their spheres of influence.

Warren Kirby MP

Maulana Abeerul Thanvi’s moving Quran recitation added a spiritual dimension to the event, reminding everyone of the shared values that underpin social responsibility.

Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Deputy Leader & Senator for NSW said, “Thank you to the staff and volunteers of the House of Sakinah who do extraordinary work supporting Muslim women with an understanding of their needs to rebuild lives with respect and dignity. Domestic violence, in addition to discrimination and racism, compounds the struggles of women of colour, First Nations women, refugee women and others who are already marginalised. A deep understanding of intersectionality and the layers of trauma is essential for transforming lives. To end violence against women we need proper government funding for front line services, housing to ensure a roof over everyones head, economic justice and  systemic society wide action for gender equity with zero tolerance for domestic violence.”
Maha Abdo talked about the barriers Muslim women have in accessing services in the context of homelessness. These barriers are rooted in a complex interplay of cultural, social, religious, and systemic factors that often exacerbate their vulnerability and hinder their ability to access the assistance they need.
A particularly poignant moment came when Heba, a survivor of domestic violence, courageously shared her own harrowing experiences with homelessness. Her speech resonated deeply with attendees, leaving an indelible impact and reinforcing the fact that the issue at hand affects real people with dreams, hopes, and aspirations.

Firdousi Obeidullah, the driving force behind House of Sakinah, articulated the heart of the matter succinctly saying, “Homelessness is not a social issue. It’s a human experience that affects real people, with hopes, dreams, and aspirations just like you and me. It’s important to remember that homelessness is not a choice. It can happen to anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.”

The event also included the aspect of fundraising, having an ambitious goal of $126,700, which was envisioned to fuel House of Sakinah’s initiatives, including Senior Programs, Refugee Maintenance, shelter rents, case worker support, food hampers, and various provisions.

The response from attendees, characterised by their compassion and commitment to change, was overwhelming. House of Sakinah not only achieved its target but exceeded it, raising over $128,000 in pledges and donations.

This outpouring of generosity signified not just monetary support but also a collective endorsement of the organisation’s mission to provide solace and hope.

The event culminated on a delightful note with a delectable lunch and tantalising dessert graciously provided by Parra Villa Function Lounge.

Founded in 2013 under the Auspices of Charity Australia International, House of Sakinah stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives.

The organisation’s multifaceted approach extends beyond providing immediate relief, an organisation dedicated to providing refuge and empowerment to individuals facing homelessness through domestic violence and other means.

Under the umbrella of its parent organisation, Islamic Forum for Australian Muslims (IFAM), it aims to encompass a comprehensive range of services and foster partnerships with stakeholders for the betterment of families and communities.