Van – the man

Van – The Man .auVan fam bd453d809cb2f7345ed4c72b7271c9cdd837d9d3

This is Van. He’s an African European Malaysian Indian & Scandinavian blend who hails from Mauritius. In 2000, he had to choose between uni in France or Australia and chose Melbourne cos his gf at the time said it was a kewl town.

Ah an African man in Melbourne in early 2000 was like hens teeth.. you were ladies man?
I worked security at nights and studied during the day. I had a big afro at the time so all the kewl clubs wanted me to work their doors.I definitely took advantage of being exotic. Lets just say I only ever went home to change my clothes.Van – The Man

Did people get racist on you?
Yeah well I was a bouncer telling drunk bogans they can’t get into their club so of course, it was easy to be racist on me. But that was something I had learnt to live with – Mauritius is very multi cultural so it wasn’t that new to me.

This would have prepped you for a career as an officer in jouvie?
No, the thing that gave me a good rapport with the kids was that I came from an underprivileged background. I grew up on a small island and didn’t have a lot of things so we could relate that way. They would listen more so I could be supportive for them, offering better pathways and options to take, to live a better life. That’s why my job is so satisfying.

So from small island to big – which is more your home?
Definitely Australia. I spent half my adult life here – since I was 19. My partner and I just had a baby girl so the anchor is down to stay. Home is where your family is and ours is here. Also, there aren’t as many opportunities in Mauritius – so it is a holiday destination now.

How did you get to live in Aboriginal communities?
I’d been travelling Australia I made some friends in Arnhamland and Maningrida who invited me to live with them for awhile. I learnt to camp, fish, cook and live the way they do. Their connection to the land is a privilege to see. From roasting a barramundi to cleaning a turtle, to hearing their cultural stories. It’s all about nature and being grateful to the land and respectful of community.


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