Moammar with his wife Georgia and their daughter Leila Philasteen in March 2007.
Source: Museum Victoria Palestinian Community Photographic Collection.

Growing up an Aussie but not looking like one is what my two brothers and I remember most about our childhood. We were born to Palestinian and Lebanese migrants and grew up in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs.

Once a girl from our primary school invited my younger brother and I to play cricket at the sports ground across the road from our father’s milk bar. When her father saw us playing, he said: “What are you darkies doing here?” “Playing cricket,” I replied, to which he abruptly responded, “**** off, this is not your game.”

My parents shielded us from that sort of hate but ensured that we understood that we should be proud of our heritage and that we were in fact Aussies too.

Our late father loved the land and often spoke of the days spent nurturing the fields of his ancestors near Ramallah. In 2003 we planted some 4000 olive trees on our farm just outside Shepparton to help rekindle this love that was taken from him. The olive tree is synonymous with Palestine and the resilience of its people. The grove is still young, but our father did live to see the first pressing of its oil in 2005.