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Docklander - May 2019

30 Apr 2019

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Johannesburg to Docklands

Farah Hassim and Dave Husy have lived in Docklands for less than two years, and Australia for 12. They moved in 2007 from South Africa’s biggest city.

They were both activists against Apartheid “in different ways” – Farah in the union movement, and Dave in the ANC Youth League.

The whole family had met Nelson Mandela in a number of separate, some chance, meetings.

“My story is absolutely ridiculous,” Farah said.

“I came off a plane and saw him walking ahead with his body guards and ran across the tarmac and when I got to him I couldn’t speak because I was just crying.”

Years later, the couple’s youngest daughter was in Mandela’s great granddaughter’s class at school.

“We were active and invested in the transition, and because it had kind of all gone through we wanted to see a bit of the world because we’d lived in Johannesburg for our whole lives,” Dave told Docklands News.

“We also had two daughters becoming teenagers, and where we lived was pretty dangerous. We wanted to give them a bit more opportunity.”

They originally lived in Parkville, followed by Carlton. But Farah said Docklands has been the nicest, and the most community-based.

“It’s the most social place in terms of people talking to each other, and we have a dog and love the dog scene here,” she said.

The point was illustrated when Docklands News mentioned the chow chow we’d met on the way to the interview.

“The black one? That’s Monique’s dog,” Farah said.

Farah and Dave had originally set “close to water” as a condition to whatever city they’d move to from the infamously dry Johannesburg.

After living around the inner city of Melbourne for years, the scarce supply of three-bedroom apartments led them to Docklands. But they stayed for the social connections.

And their daughters apparently have the same natural affinity for community. One of their daughters is playing a leading role in establishing a Docklands Girl Guides group.

Farah has been helping out – putting up posters and dropping off pamphlets at the library. Both their daughters have been in guides since they moved here.

The Docklands group will be a step forward for the community. Up until now Farah’s daughter has travelled to Carlton for Girl Guides.

“She likes that people should belong to groups and feel a sense of belonging. She’s chosen guides as a way in which she can contribute,” Dave said.

The couple plan to stay in Docklands, but perhaps downsize their apartment once both daughters have moved out for good.

“Docklands is great. The people are wonderful, the community but also the tourists make it really international. There are people from all over the world,” she said.

Farah’s go-to cafe is Sir Basil, which she says is emblematic of the suburb’s energy.

“They worked really hard to get it working. There’s that side of Docklands which is really nice, it’s not just big business investment in the area.”

Dave said when they first moved here everyone warned them it was a “social wasteland”. The couple said it wasn’t true then, but also that the suburb is changing and becoming more community-focused.

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