Shamsiya Mohammadi is looking forward to voting for the first time in her life.
The 18 year old Adelaide woman doesn’t yet know who she will vote for, but it will be a fairly straightforward process compared to what she might expect in Afghanistan, where she was born.
Women can vote there. These days they can stand for office and be elected, but safe to say it’s not necessarily the calm and orderly experience Australians expect.
Shamsiya arrived in Australia as a refugee.
“A few years after I was born my father had to flee because of the Taliban regime. We had to go to Pakistan. He went to Pakistan first but my family went soon after.”
Shamsiya stayed there until she was 9 years old.
“When I was three, my father had to come to Australia in 2001.” Shamsiya’s father come to Australia by boat.
“In Afghanistan it was all peaceful before the Taliban arrived. But after that my Dad got threats from the Taliban and we had to flee our homeland… That’s why we fled to Pakistan.
“We had to wait until the end of 2006 before the rest of my family could come. And so we came here in November 2006.”
"After that my Dad got threats from the Taliban and we had to flee our homeland." Image supplied.
Initially, Shamsiya and her family lived in Renmark, in rural South Australia. Her father picked fruit to earn a living and Shamsiya, with little English navigated primary school in a small town that hadn't seen many people who weren't white.
"To be honest when I first came here I just felt really lucky to be in Australia and to have an education, to be able to study and to be with my father again. Back then I didn't really take note of all the racism and all that stuff that we had to face.
"There wasn't much understanding about people from different backgrounds. It was really difficult to go through primary school without speaking any English, with the cultural difference as well. People couldn't really understand that.
"But it wasn't until a few years after that more Afghan families started to arrive in Renmark and people became less racist. But in the beginning there was a lot of racism."
The family moved to Adelaide four years later.
Last year, Shamsiya graduated from school as College Dux and with the Maths Applications Award, Information Processing & Publishing Award and the Australian Defence Force Longtan Teamwork and Leadership Award. Image supplied.