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Q&A with devoted mum, State of Origin touch footballer and ACSQ Senior Insurance Officer, Mai Peregrina

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Mai Peregrina and find out about her current activities, her thoughts on NAIDOC Week and “Being Together: Embracing Joy”, and her karaoke go-to song, favourite scripture, secret skill and what she would write on a billboard and why

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Where do you currently live and where do you worship?

I live on the north side of Brisbane. I come from a Catholic family and I am currently supporting my third child as she embarks on her sacramental program journey.

How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?

I have been working for the Anglican Church for just over four years. I am the Senior Insurance Officer. I initially commenced my role in the Finance and Diocesan Services Commission (FDSC) before the role recently transitioned to the General Manager’s Office. I am based in the Cathedral Precinct.

What does your role involve?

My role as Senior Insurance Officer means that I do all things insurance, including administering the building and contents, sickness and accident, and public liability insurance, and process insurance claims.

What projects and activities are you currently working on?

At present I am currently working with parishes to reevaluate the insured value of their buildings.

What has been one of the best memories of your time in your role?

What I really like best about my job is the people I work with. I enjoy working alongside people in my own area and in other commissions. My highlight working at the Anglican Church is the monthly morning teas that were held in the FDSC. People were allocated into teams and put on a roster to organise the morning teas and it became increasingly very competitive, with each team trying to outdo the other teams. We went all out with ice cream sundaes, sliders, spring rolls, elaborate home-made cakes and high teas. It was a lot of fun.

Michael Kucera and Mai Peregrina

Double trouble and dynamic duo! Michael Kucera (Work Health and Safety Advisor) and Mai Peregrina (Senior Insurance Officer) outside the Cathedral on 22 June 2022

What are your plans and goals for the next 12 months?

I will continue to work with parishes to make insurance processes easier for them.

How does your faith inspire you and shape your outlook, life choices and character?

I learnt growing up with a faith that it’s important to help others. I seek to apply this in my work.

What is your favourite scripture?

“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’” (Joshua 1.9)

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

The parish priest where my children go to school. He gives beautiful homilies – he always ties his life experiences into what he says, connecting the Bible to real life. He is also very funny. The kids love him. He is awesome.

2022’s Diocesan theme is “Being Together: Embracing Joy”. What are some practical ways that we can celebrate the way differences help to make us whole and the importance of diversity in our unity?

Once a year in a previous workplace we were encouraged to bring in a meal that was representative of our cultures. It was a big shindig. I always brought in nem nuong – Vietnamese pork meatballs – and Vietnamese spring rolls and fried rice. We shared our cultures over the food.

What is it important to celebrate NAIDOC Week?

It’s great to celebrate NAIDOC Week and learn about the cultures and histories of our First Peoples. We didn’t learn much about Aboriginal and Torres Strait histories when I was growing up and going to school – the focus was much more about the First Fleet and British history. Sandra King, our Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group coordinator, does a great job educating us and running workshops during NAIDOC Week.

What do you think is the primary strength of the Church and what is the best way to make the most of this for the benefit of our communities?

In my experience, the Anglican Church is much more accepting about gender and sexual diversity than many other denominations. Because youth are the future of the Church, I think we need to keep them engaged by being relevant, and this acceptance is an important part of being relevant.

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

A couple of years ago when my family was in Boston for a December holiday, my then 11-year-old son saw a guy who was homeless sleeping on the streets in the cold. Until then, my son had not seen a person sleeping outside before. My son looked up at me and commented that the man looked cold and asked if we could do something to help. So we went into Walmart and bought some thick socks, pillows and blankets. My son then handed these items to the man and offered to buy him some food.

Oliver and his cousins handing out care packages to kids

“My son Oliver and his cousins handing out care packages to kids in make-shift housing for displaced people in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda in 2013” (Mai Peregrina)

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

“Family is everything.” I was brought up with this mindset from a young age by my parents.

What is your earliest memory?

Living in the government housing commission home in Richmond, Melbourne. In front of the home was a huge park. There was a crater in the park. I remember rolling down the crater over and over again after kindy until Mum called us in.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I play high-level touch footy. I also coach juniors and high-level players. I do this in a voluntary capacity, along with being on the committee of the local touch football club, so we can support and develop young people coming through.

Mai Peregrina playing touch football

Mai Peregrina playing touch football for her local club in 2018

You were recently selected for the Queensland 40s Women’s State of Origin Team. How did you get into playing high-level touch football?

I started playing touch football as a 22 years old. I had never played touch before – I was a netballer. A co-worker asked me to fill in when a team member couldn’t play. I was a ring-in that became permanent. We are currently in training for the State of Origin series, which will be held in August in Coffs Harbour.

If you could have a billboard with any text on it, what would it say and why?

I would want to inspire young girls to strive to be the best with something like, “Don’t think about making women fit the world – think about making the world fit women.”

What book have you given away most as a gift and why?

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do. His story mirrors that of my family.

Malaysian Refugee Camp

“My mum, dad, sister and brother and me at a Malaysian Refugee Camp in 1979, showing our life outside Vietnam after the Vietnam War” (Mai Peregrina)

Where do you do your best thinking?

When I am pottering around the house my brain turns off and thoughts and information come freely.

What’s your best childhood memory?

Sleeping in one bedroom with my siblings. There were four of us siblings sharing the same bedroom. There was a lot of talking and laughing – not a lot of sleeping.

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

I go for a drink with mates.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?

My kids come out with a lot of funny one-liners. My nine-year-old daughter, who has a Vietnamese mum and Filipino dad, recently said to me completely unexpectedly, “Mum, my friend said to me I am an Asian. But I said ‘No. I am Australian.’” We needed to explain to her that yes, she is Australian, but her whole family is from countries in Asia.

What is your secret skill?

I am good at settling crying babies. I love babies.

What is your karaoke go-to song?

‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi. I am a huge Bon Jovi fan.

What day would you like to re-live and why?

We just lost the grand final at touch football nationals. I want to re-live that day so we can win.

Philippines Mixed Opens Vs USA Mixed Open player

“I was also able to represent the Philippines at the Touch Football World Cup in 2015 because I was living in the Philippines for three years and qualified under residency rules” (Mai Peregrina with Philippines Mixed Opens Vs USA Mixed Open players in Coffs Harbour in 2015)

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would that be?

Red Rock Deli sweet chilli and sour cream chips. I buy them a lot.

What item should you throw out, but can’t bear to part with?

My cassettes. My kids really don’t understand it. I love them even though I can’t play them. I even have a new music cassette that is still in its packaging.

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