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Previous Medal Winners

2017 Winners

Human Rights Award - Karim (Ken) Habak OAM

For over 45 years, Karim, known as Ken, has advocated for and supported the rights of the individuals and communities who have made a substantial contribution to multicultural affairs in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Ken’s tireless contributions have been instrumental to the success of the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra.

As a respected voice and leader in the community, Ken has enabled the Multicultural Communities Council to extend the reach and diversity of their services to diverse communities, particularly in the area of aged care and young people. He has also provided a wide range of employment and volunteering opportunities.

Karim (Ken) Habak OAM

Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award - Moving Forward Together Association

A dedicated team of volunteers have established the Moving Forward Together project to plant the seed of harmony and cooperation between organisations and individuals. Their Annual Harmony Poster and Song Writing Competitions have been highly successful attracting between 4,000 and 6,000 entries from school students. The 2016 theme ‘STOP, THINK, CONSIDER OTHERS’ was particularly successful. The working committees for the Harmony Walk Festival managed to engage a wide range of communities and sporting groups. Addressing how prejudice and stereotyping leads to conflict and violence, the project promoted the value of harmony and cooperation.

Moving Forward Together Association

Lifetime Community Service Award - Antoinette Abdelseed

Antoinette has worked for the last 30 years to help vulnerable families in disadvantaged communities across Sydney. She has expertise in policy reform and planning, advocacy and mediation, training and motivating. She’s worked for a number of government agencies as well as relief organisations overseas. Antoinette has also been invited to speak at a number of different international conferences and has worked extensively with community leaders, elders and teams in building leadership technique and skills.

Antoinette is the founder and director of Angels of Mercy Welfare Services that delivers mobile services to emerging communities from African and Arabic backgrounds.

Antoinette Abdelseed

Youth Award - Khushaal Vyas

Khushaal Vyas was a member of the Fairfield City Council Youth Advisory Committee who worked on planning and delivering a number of festivals in the local government area. He also advocated for the $7 million Fairfield Youth and Community Centre.  Khushaal ran the Cancer Council Relay for Life, Bring It On! Festival, Cabramatta Moon Festival and a youth conference.  He brought the voice of youth to the Council and provided input into the development and launch of the Youth and Community Centre.

Khushaal was also a key note youth speaker during the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to NSW.

Arts and Culture Award - Carolina Triana

Through her work with Settlement Services International (SSI) Carolina has initiated several groundbreaking arts programs including New Beginnings: Refugee Arts and Culture Festival and the Arts and Refugee Forum 2016. Both events created employment and showcased the unique talents of recently arrived refugees. Carolina’s strategic work has led to a cultural understanding between community groups and the wider mainstream community. She is a dedicated advocate for achieving change and representing multicultural artists in New South Wales.

Carolina Triana

Regional Communities Award - Robbie Mackinlay

Robbie is a Cricket Development Manager in the Murray Region for Cricket NSW. He formed the Albury Bhutanese Cricket team, made up of young Bhutanese refugees. The team aims to encourage social participation, build mateship and integrate refugees with the local community. Robbie is passionate about the team supporting fellow youth refugees across Australia. Robbie is known for providing young refugees with kindness and helping them to feel at home. He’s also been involved with Cricket NSW and Cricket Albury-Wodonga to create the inaugural Bhutanese Big Bash League which started in January this year.

Robbie Mackinlay

Economic Participation Award - Mohamed Hage

Over the course of his career, Mohamed has worked with a range of diverse sectors in fostering investment, trade flows and creating stronger government to government ties in a range of sectors. These sectors include aviation, health, education, agriculture and food, infrastructure and finance between Australia and the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) region comprising the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman. As State Chair NSW of the Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mohamed has also assisted the state of NSW in generating new economic activities while continuing to strengthen trade and investment between NSW and the GCC region.

The region is also a priority market in attracting new investment into the state of NSW. Mohamed continues to add two-way investment capabilities for investment growth and diversification between the regions.

Mohamed Hage

2016 Winners

Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award – Jeremy Jones AM

For more than 40 years, Jeremy Jones has been a champion of multicultural and interfaith dialogue as founder of a number of organisations, such as the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations, Community Alert Against Racist Violence, Together for Humanity Foundation, Faith Communities for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Mr Jones has served on bodies such as the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. His involvement with social issues began when he was a student working as a volunteer with indigenous children in inner Sydney.

He has developed strong bonds with leaders in Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Baha’i, Buddhist and Hindu faiths, and has worked for community harmony within Australia and globally, through co-chairing the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. Mr Jones also serves on the NSW Police Commissioner’s Multicultural Advisory Council and was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2005. He won the 2007 Australian Human Rights Medal for his work against racism and for community harmony.

Lifetime community service – Om Dhungel

As founding president of the Association of Bhutanese in Australia (Sydney), Om Dhungel has provided leadership within his community and worked with government agencies and service providers to support refugees from Bhutan who arrive under Australia’s humanitarian program.

Mr Dhungel established the Marrickville/Dulwich Hill Amnesty International Group in 2002 while he was looking for a job and struggling to resettle after arriving in 1998. He also helped establish the Nepalese Community of Western Sydney, increasing participation by women and young people. An engineer by profession, he volunteers at SEVA International, a non-profit group supporting South Asian communities, working with diverse communities to develop partnerships.

Among his achievements are launching soccer teams for boys and girls, helping people plan careers, establishing English classes and visiting elderly people. Mr Dhungel also organises training for community leaders, arranges courses for job seekers and establishes projects in arts, literature, sports and music. He was recently awarded a fellowship to study refugee resettlement in Canada, the United States, Norway and New Zealand.

Youth award - Ram Khanal

Ram Khanal, 22, graduated as dux of his high school just two years after arriving in Australia as a refugee from a Bhutanese camp in Nepal, later graduating in medicine from the Australian National University. However, he saw the need to help fellow Bhutanese refugees who resettled in Albury Wodonga and in 2015 decided to volunteer for community activities full time. He ran an interstate soccer championship that brought together more than 500 Bhutanese young people from all over the country, in an event that promoted mental health and well-being.

Mr Khanal also formed the Albury Bhutanese Cricket Team from scratch, strengthening ties with other diverse communities, and is vice president of Bhutanese Association in Albury Inc, a non-profit group that promotes harmony, cultural exchange and empowerment.

He also volunteers with the Multicultural Settlement Services team at the Albury Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau, helping to raise skills and confidence among young people and increasing dialogue between young people from different backgrounds. On Australia Day 2016, he was named as Albury Young Citizen of the Year.

Arts and culture – Saba Vasefi

Expelled from her job as lecturer at Shahid Beheshti University in Iran for her campaign against the death penalty, Saba Vasefi arrived in Australia in 2010. Since then, she has used her work as a poet and filmmaker to raise issues of social justice and promote diversity.

She has published international articles on executions of women and children, and the asylum seeker crisis, is a director of the Sydney International Women’s Poetry and Arts Festival, a director of the Woman Scream International Poetry Festival, and has been named as Ambassador for the Asylum Seekers Centre.

Her work has included documentaries on Muslim lesbians, child executions in Iran, and the life of pioneer Australian parliamentarian Edith Cowan. Ms Vasefi is also a member of the Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation and has organised symposiums on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. She holds a postgraduate degree from the Australian Film Television and Radio School and is studying for a master’s degree in feminist cinema studies at Macquarie University.

Regional communities – Joan Saboisky

Joan Saboisky has been a tireless volunteer in supporting the resettlement of refugees and migrants who have settled in Wagga Wagga. In the 1970s, she helped form the West Wagga San Isadore Refugee Committee which offered help to recently arrived Vietnamese refugees. It still welcomes families to the area and helps support them during their settlement journey, and Ms Saboisky still attends community weddings and graduations arising from those early friendships.

She formed a group of interested Christians and Muslims to encourage interfaith dialogue and promote understanding and appreciation of our similarities, and also helps source and match material aid needed by families suffering economic hardship.

In addition, Ms Saboisky launched the annual Prayer for Peace service, bringing many faiths together to pray during Refugee Week, and also hosts annual events to raise money to help families sponsor their loved ones from overseas. For more than 40 years, she has acted as a conduit between the broader community and refugee and migrant communities, helping to break down barriers and promote social harmony.

Economic participation – Anne Bi

Arriving in Australia in 1989 as a student from Beijing, Anne Bi established a business empire called the B1 Group, ranging from mining to real estate development and helping attract overseas investment to Australia. Her choice of development sites was influenced by changing demographics, which has enabled her to contribute extensively to Chinese community projects and charities.

The B1 Group built B1 Tower in Church Street, Parramatta, selling 20% of the apartments to overseas investors after establishing a sales team in China, and B1 Square in Burwood, which mixes retail and commercial space.

Since 2002, Ms Bi has volunteered her time and sponsored the Eyes on China project run by China Vision Project, which performs cataract operations in many remote areas in China. Ms Bi has been a trustee of the Australian Chinese Charity Foundation since 2003, which has raised funds to support disaster relief efforts after bush fires, tsunamis and earthquakes, both in Australia and throughout China and Southeast Asia. She is also a major sponsor of Chinese language schools and cultural exchange projects.

Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award – commendation Together for Humanity Foundation

The Together for Humanity Foundation aims to teach people to replace prejudice with mutual respect and cooperation. Established in 2002, this multifaith organisation runs workshops to bring together children and adults from diverse backgrounds, with Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Aboriginal and atheist educators. It also brings together clergy from many faiths at times of crisis, such as after the 2014 Martin Place siege. Its programs have reached about 100,000 students, teachers and community members across the country, working to break down barriers of fear and prejudice.

Youth – commendation to Mawa Sannoh

Mawa Sannoh helps young people from West Africa to settle in Sydney through her membership of NSW Mandingo Youth, a non-profit group that aims to help young people establish their identities while retaining links to their culture and heritage, within the context of Australian culture and values. Providing free homework classes for children, she has helped the community in Mount Druitt to develop social capital and support new arrivals. Mawa, who was born in Guinea, has also established a youth soccer team that now includes more than 30 members from all parts of Africa, and has helped stop youngsters from dropping out of school due to pregnancy, isolation, or family breakdown, forging relationships with Blacktown Council and the NSW Muslim Association. She has recently joined the management committee of Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency.

2015 Winners

Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award – Nalika Padmasena

Nalika Priyadharshi Padmasena arrived in Australia in 1995 and since then has worked to promote justice and human rights by providing forums for culturally diverse communities to discuss family and domestic violence issues.

Nalika’s involvement with the Religion and Family Harmony project has facilitated discussion between religious and community leaders to develop solutions to issues faced by communities.

Nalika has held various positions including Treasurer of the Toongabbie Legal Service, Chair of the Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association, and Chairperson of Multicultural Services @ Toongabbie and Treasurer of Toongabbie Legal Centre.

Sarah Yahya – Youth Award

Sarah Yahya began voluntary work on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in 2008, including working with the Mandean community and those living in western Sydney. Sarah’s work includes her ongoing involvement in organisations such as the Mandean Youth Steering Committee, Settlement Services International Youth NSW Steering Committee, Liverpool Youth Council, YMCA’s Youth Parliament, On Our Radar Youth Radio Program and Liverpool Headspace.

Her commitment to advocating and mentoring disadvantaged young people has been recognised through many awards and distinctions, including the Liverpool City Council 2014 Young Citizen of the Year, 2013 Defence Force of Australia Leadership Award and the Rotary International Young Winner of the Year Award for Western Sydney.

William Ho – Youth Encouragement Award

William Ho is a strong advocate for youth from various minority groups through campaigns and community engagement projects. Through his own experiences, William realised that young people had little knowledge of what support services are available and ways to access them.

William has created award-winning youth engagement initiatives including the Youth Action Best Youth Led Project for the Central Coast Youth Consultants and was recently selected as one of four finalists for the Young Achiever Award at the 2014 ACON Honour Awards.

Paroula Galelis-Thurban – Arts and Culture

Paroula Galelis-Thurban has been an ambassador for the art of Greek dancing in Australia since she arrived in Australia in 1964. Paroula has welcomed people from other backgrounds to her classes and has facilitated performances at other community festivals and events. Paroula’s promotion of Greek culture has taken her to regional areas, interstate and international events

Jin Feng (Jeff) Li – Economic Participation

Jin Feng (Jeff) Li arrived in Australia in the 1990s and started his own business, Pioneer Computers. In 2011, Jeff founded the Australia Technology and Investment Committee (ATIC). AITC works closely with CSIRO and University of Technology Sydney to deliver research to overseas counterparts and liaises with overseas governments and investment parties for commercial purposes.

Jeff maintains his position at the forefront of developing and promoting Australian technology and has been recognised by major technology journals. He received the internationally renowned iF Award for excellent product design.

John Kutte Moi - Regional Communities

John Kutte Moi arrived as a humanitarian entrant in 2006 with his wife and four children and settled in Wagga Wagga.

John is a board member of the Multicultural Council of Wagga, a founding member of Wafrica Inc, and responsible for establishing a holiday education program to bridge the education gap that often exists for children from diverse backgrounds. John has worked to bridge the gap with police and community and has represented the African community whenever required, particularly in times of crisis.

Ruben Amores – Lifetime Community Service

Ruben Amores founded the Kapit-Bahayan Cooperative Ltd (KCL) and served as President in a voluntary capacity for 20 years until 2014.

Ruben has been instrumental in establishing and acquiring 23 units of affordable  housing accommodation for families who have experienced housing stress.

He has successfully formed harmonious communities from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds at the five Sydney sites where KCL properties are located. He has received recognition from local, state and international organisations. Ruben is active in promoting a socially cohesive society in Auburn and beyond, through his leadership of the Auburn Small Community Organisation Network (ASCON) as Founding Chair. 

Community Relations Commission Medals 2004-2014


The Community Relations Commission's Medal Program honoured individuals and organisations who worked to promote community harmony and multicultural principles.

The CRC Medal in gold was awarded to an individual or an organisation in recognition of exemplary promotion of community harmony in NSW or the high level pursuit of multicultural principles within the context of Australian citizenship.

  • 2004 Imam Feisal Rauff, founder of the Cordoba Project, New York
  • 2004 Archbishop of Sydney, His Eminence Cardinal George Pell
  • 2004 Wadim (Bill) Jegorow, Foundation Chair, Ethnic Communities Council of NSW
  • 2005 The Hon John Hatzistergos Minister Assisting the Premier on Citizenship
  • 2005 The Hon Bob Carr, Premier, Minister for Citizenship NSW
  • 2009 Michael Marx, Deputy Chair of the Community Relations Commission (formerly Ethnic Affairs Commission) 1996 -2009
  • 2012 Michael Photios, Minister for Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs, May 1993 – April 1995
  • 2013 Fadel Benhima PSM, Community Relations Commission Director Regional Services
  • 2013 Amit Dasgupta, Indian Consul General
  • 2014 Michael Christodoulou AM DO, Community Relations Commission Commissioner
  • 2014 Warren Duncan, Community Relations Commission Public Liaison Officer