Bassir wants to run for Council | Cranbourne Star News

By Violet Li

Founder and CEO of the Bahktar Community Organization charity, Bassir Qadiri, has launched his campaign for the October elections, determined to give a voice to the community.

He is running for the Casuarina Ward, which includes Narre Warren, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North.

“I never thought about running for city council. To be honest, a month ago I didn’t know I would go through with this,” Bassir said.

“There has been a lot of encouragement from friends, community members and also colleagues. I thought if I started it, I might have the opportunity to advocate for a broader community.

“My advocacy can reach a larger scale than just a small community.”

Community safety, stronger and more transparent financial management of rates and responsive maintenance of parks, roads and trails are the fundamental pursuits that Bassir will strive to achieve.

His long-term involvement with the disadvantaged, isolated and marginalized communities in Casey and Greater Dandenong has brought him a different perspective on the region’s needs: employment.

“I will also focus on increasing business and local employment opportunities. Local employment is very important. In the city of Casey alone, there are more than 6,000 job seekers from Afghan communities. Imagine the number of all the communities we have,” Bassir said.

“When we see the unemployment rate and the number of people seeking work, it is much higher in the area than other places in Victoria.”

According to Jobs and Skills Australia, Cranbourne has an estimated unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent in the December quarter of 2023, almost double the Greater Melbourne average.

Bassir works tirelessly on the front line to support local job seekers and is acutely aware of how difficult it can be to secure a job.

“We work together with Wise Employment and other employment agencies. We have employed more than 300 people,” he said.

“We (Bahktar Community Organization) have a partnership with companies, we know which company needs which type of employees. We have a list of job seekers who are actively looking for a job.

“As we do this, I always wonder where I can find work next.”

When the former Casey Council was fired over corruption scandals, Bassir said he developed a number of strategies to ensure this would never happen again.

“From 2018 I was on the Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee. The committee provided strategic advice to the council and the mayor on infrastructure and other projects,” he said.

“I have some strategies that once they are chosen, I will see how that can be feasible. At this stage I don’t feel comfortable sharing that, but I have a very clear vision: that is what we can do to achieve all the points I mentioned earlier.

When Bassir came to Australia in 2009, he has played a multi-faceted role in the community.

Speaking an impressive seven languages, he started out as a part-time Dari language instructor at Dandenong High School, then joined the SBS Dari program as a radio presenter and ended up at Monash Health as an interpreter.

“Monash was one of the places that helped me understand the community,” he recalls.

“As an interpreter, I went to different departments and worked with people and patients who suffered from mental health, disabilities and were at the end of their lives.

“I’m not a doctor. I help interpret. But I deal with all these scenarios where a doctor might interact with a patient and deliver heartbreaking news to family members

“That (the interpreting job) helped me understand the community and its needs.”

Working with multiple languages, Bassir focused on multicultural communities, eventually leading to the founding of the secular organization Bahktar Community Organization.

The charity supports migrants and refugees with material assistance and other resettlement services in the South East. Over the years, more than 6,000 people have been affected.

Since 2021 he has also been working with the Victorian Multicultural Commission Regional Advisory Councils.

“I was very involved with different cultures, and this encouraged me to stay in this country and do something,” Bassir said.

“I see every culture and language as a color, so I see Australia as a rainbow.”

Bassir also works as a professional financial manager.

He is the 2020 Casey Citizen of the Year and winner of the 2022 Victorian Inclusive Volunteering Award.