Whether it is fostering social cohesion through community events or creating a safe, diverse space for Muslim women to share their stories, Ms Hana Assafiri is a compassionate and unspoken hero within the Victorian community. She is a tireless advocate for women in the community, a spokesperson for Islamic feminism in Australia and as a long-time Melbourne icon, she is celebrated for both her generosity and success as a businesswoman.
Hana has dedicated her professional and private life to removing barriers that prevent women from living prosperous lives. By opening her first restaurant in 1998, the popular Moroccan Soup Bar in North Fitzroy–now an institution for many Victorians, Hana has provided employment opportunities for marginalised members of the community.
Hana’s approach to business is both unconventional and effective, being passionately grounded in an understanding of community and generosity. Hana introduced the concept of a verbal menu and communal eating to dining in Melbourne, contributing to a unique culinary culture which has been embraced by Melburnians from all backgrounds, creating the sense of community Hana always strives to uphold.
In 2015, Hana was awarded TimeOut’s Legend Award for her flair for innovation and entrepreneurship. Her successful career was forged by her drive and passion to dispel misinformation and negative cultural stereotypes to create a supportive Victorian community. Hana is also known for her vibrant and outspoken style, she is celebrated for her ability to articulate social concerns confidently and compassionately, but without apology. Hana’s forthright approach is met in due measure with her kindness. It is within this compelling position of strength and compassion that internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, chose to include Hana in his famous collection of portraits of local social activists.
Hana continually stresses the need for greater intercultural understanding by creating opportunities via respectful cross-cultural relations. To foster such conversation and discussion, Hana holds monthly events coined ‘Speed Date a Muslim’ and ‘Conversation Salons’ to bring together academics, journalists and community organisations to debate and discuss contemporary issues, with a focus on women’s issues, racism and the need for plurality and a progressive vision. And with that vision she has been a mentor for many young women, particularly from marginalised backgrounds.
Hana has made long-term and notable contributions to greater intercultural understanding between diverse community groups. She has played an extraordinary role in promoting the rights of Muslim women, and indeed of all women. Her vision is advantageous to the Victorian community and has inspired many others to work with her to implement that vision.
In March 2017 Hana was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women, celebrating her contribution made to local communities and human rights. In 2019 Hana was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to women and the broader community.
Cost $25 ($15 for students under 25 years)
Cost includes Refreshments & Canapés