As a firm believer of collective change, Anni Cockburn has been working towards a community that works together regardless of differences.

As someone who is often listening and supporting people who are escaping violence, she said small acts of kindness by individuals is the key to changing a community for the better.

“When I joined Together We Can I felt I needed to be there as a member of the community,” Anni said.

“One thing I know is that while all the terrible things that happen in our area don’t necessarily impact my family directly, they do my neighbours.

“Most people turn a blind eye if it’s not happening in their own backyard, but if it’s happening in my community then it has something to do with me.”

Anni has attended every Together We Can summit and event since its inauguration.

“I’m Indigenous, and violence is something that can be prevalent in my community at times.

“Within the Pakenham community I’ve felt the need to stand up more than once, particularly for the Sudanese community who often bear the brunt of racist and ignorant comments.

“We can’t stand by and let these comments slide. Cardinia needs to join as a community before we can progress forward together. That’s what I believe Together We Can has the power to do.”

As a child Anni was part of the Stolen Generation and was adopted into a large family with siblings from many different cultural backgrounds.

“I know what it’s like to be a minority, I know the damage it does,” she said.

“I don’t hold any personal resentment about what happened to me but I won’t condone the marginalisation of other communities.

“I have many local friends from ethnic communities who feel fear going out in the community because people think they are all the same.

“Where do they turn for help? If you say nothing you are condoning the behaviour.”

Anni said becoming part of Together We Can was a crucial first step to creating a more connected and inclusive community.

“Together We Can brings people together – it has enhanced me immensely as a person and restored my faith in other people.

“If we want to mend our community we need to start with ourselves.“

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