Cecilia wants Cardinia to be ‘heaven for all’

New candidate Cecilia Rabecca Mphande. (Stewart Chambers: 417033_05)

By Corey Everitt

A new candidate for council elections this year aims to take her community skills to a higher level – promising to make Pakenham fairer, Cecilia Rabecca Mphande is one of the latest to throw her hat in the ring this October.

Having lived in Pakenham for over the last decade, Cecilia has been an active leader within the community.

She is a co-founder and director of AfriAus iLEAC, a broad group linking 29 community organisations together to help the most vulnerable in the African and wider community.

AfriAus is based in the South East, but helps people all over. For Cecilia, the pandemic was a very active time providing relief across the State including during the lockdown of the Flemington public housing towers.

Her vision is bringing all together and she wants to take that to the council.

“I will embrace everyone, I want to make Cardinia a heaven for all,” Cecilia said.

“People still want at some stage to meet people from their own background, but once in a while will be brought together again.

“I really want to support those initiatives which still bring everyone together.”

From youth to the elderly, Cecilia proposes to take action for all.

She wants to see more empowerment of women, programs have already been initiated with her work such as Girlforce which focused on young women and was endorsed by the council.

With a potential seat at the table she also wishes to exercise more work in securing the economic independence for women to tackle the continuing prevalence of family violence through the community.

She already works in this field with her program Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Women in Relational Entrepreneurship promoting women’s autonomy.

“It’s high time we have our primary prevention, nurturing the child so they grow up with positive self-esteem and they can speak up against systems which disadvantage them,” she said.

“And instead of supporting just the young women, we help support the voice of young men where they work together.”

Working with young people comes naturally to Cecilia as she has been a teacher for almost 40 years, beginning in home country Malawi then for over the last 20 years at Hampton Park Secondary College.

Though she has concerns for all who are left out, including people with disabilities.

Cecilia is recovering from a knee injury that left her incapacitated, thankfully her doctors intervened to mend a potentially life-altering situation.

The experience, she says, emphasised the need to do more for people with disabilities. Creating a dedicated community ‘hub’ is on her list of priorities.

The key issue is accessibility and another group that lacks access is the community’s seniors.

“They are feeling left out and that starts with their own families and then later on within the community, they can’t be included,” she said.

“So having increased accessibility of the services to our seniors and when we are closer to the election we will identify what is really the gap in the shire.”

Further on from her work, she also initiated the relief program LUVPACKS with AfriAus. She is a member of Connected CALD Women, Connected CALD Seniors Diverse Women, Cardinia Multicultural Advisory Group, a member representing the South East for Victorian Multicultural Commission and a member of the Women’s Advisory Group for the Ethnic Community Council of Victoria.

She presented the work of LUVPACKS before the United Nations 68th Commission on the Status of Women among a seven-person delegation from AfriAus to New York.

She continued to study for the prospective role, among completing the compulsory candidate training, she has taken time on her own to complete ‘Women Leading Locally’ and is soon to finish course ‘Pathways to Politics’.

She is going into October with a ‘positive mindset’ believing she has what it takes to restore ‘trust’ in the community.

“I believe I have knowledge, the skills, the ability,” she said.

“It’s all about trust. There is more to be done.”

Cecilia has indicated that she will nominate for Henty Ward.