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Melbourne’s Christina Chia celebrates Lunar New Year -“I arrived in Australia with two suitcases & two little girls, no job, no money to speak of and yet hope, faith and a willingness to learn led me to success.”

Please tell us a little about yourself and your arrival to Australia.

Christina says, “I arrived in Australia with two suitcases and two little girls, no job, no money to speak of and yet hope, faith and a willingness to learn led me to success.

Christina is recognised as a leading authority in creating opportunities and building connections for multicultural communities. Born in Malaysia and having resided in Australia for 30 years, Christina is a culture-shifting pioneer who promotes diversity and inclusivity for positive change. As the Chief Operating Officer & Principal (VIC) of North Shore Coaching College, Christina has managed to pivot and reinvent this business during the Covid-19 pandemic. North Shore Coaching College is a leading coaching institution that delivers tuition to students at primary and secondary levels. Christina’s leadership in this time has ensured thousands of families have been provided with exceptional remote learning.

“It is important for my daughters and future generations of women that I break the mold for female Asian migrants – the need to own the vision of women can be successful in business, contribute to their community and retain their independent spirit.”

How and why is Lunar New Year important to you?

“As a little girl growing up in Malaysia, I remember celebrating the Lunar New Year by receiving red packets filled with money called the ‘Ang Pow’ and central to this celebration is lots of eating and spending time with my family.

The Lunar New Year was significant in our household starting with ‘Spring Cleaning’ where we cleaned our home as it is bad luck to clean on the first day of the Lunar New Year. My mother would decorate our home with red posters of auspicious sayings, pots of kumquats, gladioli, and oriental flowers.

We ushered the New Year by wearing the ‘qipao’ (traditional Chinese dress) – to start the new year fresh and on an auspicious note.

On Lunar New Year Eve, we have a ‘Reunion Dinner’ (‘tuan nian fan’). This is a significant event as it reaffirms family members’ respect, love, and harmony that binds us together as a family unit. Every family member is expected to attend the DINNER. I remembered that my parents would ensure the food served was lavish, abundant, and of good quality – just like other Chinese families.

Being from West Malaysia, we start our dinner with “Yee Sang”. It is a traditional dish symbolic of good luck, prosperity, health, and all things auspicious. This is a popular custom.

When Yee Sang is eaten, the ritual is to toss the mixed ingredients high in the air with a shout of “Loh Hey” which literally means to ‘move upwards’ and/or any positive words such as prosperity, good luck, smooth year, great health, etc. It is symbolic of the wish for our fortunes to rise and expand during the forthcoming year.”

Christina holds a position of trust and is highly regarded in the community, being witnessed by her recent highly commended award by the Victorian Multicultural Commissioner in Business Excellence. She uses her life experiences to support and evolve the life of others in business, education & mental health. Some of her key portfolios include Vice-Chair Mental Health Foundation Australia Multicultural Ambassador Program Australia, President Asian Australia Family Association, Executive Judge 7 News Young Achiever Awards, Rotary Director (External Relations) D9810 and others. Over the past decade, through activism work & community leadership roles, Christina has raised over $250,000 for numerous charities.

What do you love about celebrating Lunar New Year in Melbourne?

“This year, Lunar New Year falls on 12 February where we will usher in the year of the Ox. I am in awe to see the progress Melbourne has made to be a truly multicultural community. Melbourne has been my home for over 30 years. I am truly fortunate to be living and raising my daughters in this wonderful city. It must be remembered that home is where your heart lies.”

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

By Melinda Sullivan and Christina Chia

Photography Sam Tabone

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