Aussie Poet Omar Sakr On What It’s Like Growing Up Muslim In Australia

Omar Sakr

Would you say Australia is an accepting, accommodating country? Well, it depends on who you ask.

During episode 5 of H R U ?, our podcast with Kids Helpine and yourtown, we spoke to writer and poet Omar Sakr about his experience with his own identity and living in Australia.

Raised in Western Sydney and born to Turkish and Lebanese migrants, Omar gets frank about his upbringing as a Muslim during 9/11, the isolation he felt as a direct result of the 2001 terror attacks and what life Down Under can truly be like for an Arab-Australian.

The sugar-coating is refreshingly nonexistent, and Omar’s grasp on his own identity puts a whole lot into perspective.

I have Turkish heritage, I’m also bisexual, I have mental health difficulties that I’ve faced as well, so all of these different things come into play,” Omar responds when asked about his view on labels. “But as I said, they’re starting points and if you treat [labels] that way, I think it’s fine. But if you assume that that is the totality of who you are, I think there’s a problem.”

When asked whether he thinks Australia as a society is improving as an inclusive society, Omar doesn’t hold back.

“I don’t think you can look at our policies with refugees and immigration and say that we’re better now than we were before,” he says.

Fair. Very fair.

It’s an incredibly thought-provoking chat and, if you’re the least bit intrigued by how other people discover their own identity, or if you just want more insight into Australia though someone else’s eyes, I could not recommend listening to the episode more if I tried.

As with every one of our H R U ? episodes, we wrap up the poddy by hearing from Josie, our resident Kids Helpline specialist. This time around, Josie explains how feelings of conflicted identity can be a driving reason behind younger people calling up for a chat.

If you’re also interested in topics such as sexuality, social media, financial anxiety, make sure you listen to the other eps of H R U ? when they drop.