From AMEP to Australian journalist: Mujeeb’s SBS success story
When Mujeeb Muneeb arrived in Australia from Afghanistan in 2012 he could speak only limited English and doubted he would ever work in his chosen career of journalism again. Fast forward 10 years and not only is he working as a journalist, he is interviewing government ministers, writing news stories on politics and world affairs, working on documentaries and now producing a weekly podcast series to help new arrivals in a way he wished had been available to help him.
“My journey is actually not finished; it continues and I have more things to do here in Australia,” Mujeeb says. “But what I want to say is: ‘If I did it, everyone can do it’.”
Mujeeb “did it” by starting his journey with the Adult Migrant Education Program (AMEP) at Navitas in Western Sydney. At the age of 24, he learned to read and write English, made connections with others and gained the confidence to apply for work.
“When I arrived in 2012 I couldn’t speak English at all, and I could read some simple writing but was not able to read every single word. I thought it would be very hard to get a job in Australia,” he says.
It was while he was studying at Navitas that his teacher told him about SBS Dari.
“My teacher said, ‘Your background is journalism; you might be interested in this program, it is in your language. If you try, maybe you will be able to work there.’ I was not thinking that day I would ever be able to do that. But now that is where I am working.”
Mujeeb was a journalist in his homeland of Afghanistan, working in Kabul as a presenter and producer for current affairs TV shows on Afghanistan’s first 24-hour news channel, TOLOnews. He was well-known in Afghanistan for his reports on the popular news site, interviewing “ministers, government, everyone!”.
In Australia he gained work experience with an unpaid internship at Afghan radio, a station co-founded by the former Dean of Kabul University, where Mujeeb studied his Bachelor of Journalism. “I started volunteering for them, doing news bulletins every Saturday night.
The Dean lives in Australia now. I met him a couple of months ago and reminded him, ‘I was your student at Kabul’. He remembered me.”
After undertaking the AMEP, Mujeeb enrolled in the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) at TAFE to become familiar with Australian higher education system: “I wanted to go to university in Australia … but I’d never written an essay before. In Afghanistan it is all tests. I learned how to do presentations, PowerPoints, how to take notes, how to write essays.”
Mujeeb decided on a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics, which he completed last year. While studying he applied for casual work at SBS and got his start at SBS Pashto.
That eventually led to his current role at SBS Dari and SBS Pashto, producing and presenting stories in his own language, and also in English. A search of his name on the SBS website shows a strong portfolio of work, including as a researcher on the Dateline documentary Escape from Afghanistan and a recent interview with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on the new arrivals from his homeland.
He is also currently working on a special series called Life in Australia, a weekly series over three months from 8 October to 24 December to help new refugees and migrants “with everything you need to settle in Australia and feel at home”.
Remembering the impact of the AMEP on his own settlement, Mujeeb reached out to Navitas to interview Stakeholder Engagement Manager Farzana Farzana for two episodes on Learning English and Getting Job Ready through Pathways to Work.
“I interview experts on everything you need to know when you come to Australia,” Mujeeb said.
“There is about 40-50 topics under one umbrella of 12 episodes. When I arrived I didn’t know most these things. My own experience has helped me to introduce the content in a way which will help new arrivals. It is what I would have liked to have had when I arrived here. It would have helped me so much.”
Mujeeb is also inspiring others with his own story. He is now married to a primary school teacher with two young girls and enrolled in Master of Media and Communications Degree at Macquarie University in 2022.
“The best thing about Australia is it’s a multicultural country. You have access to education, there are libraries, there are a lot of facilities and work opportunities here in Australia that you can take advantage of and do something for your own community or this country or for your own life.
“My advice to my recently arrived friends is, ‘You can do it. Just try. Don’t say, ‘English is not my first language I never can do it’. That’s not true. You have just got to take advantage of the facilities available, study hard and try your best you can get anything here in Australia.”