Congratulations to all the Winners of the 2019 Premier's Harmony Medals.
Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award – Individual
Dr Chandrika Subramaniyan
Dr Chandrika Subramaniyan has served the community for more than 20 years. She began her community work through the Innerwest Migrant Resource Centre in 1999, later chairing Sydwest Multicultural Services in 2016, and now volunteers as an associate for many organisations. She teaches community services for Tafe students and as a practising lawyer, she has given free legal advice to those in need. As an academic, mediator and community education presenter, she has received numerous awards for her outstanding contributions to the community. She has established community capacity building courses on Living in Harmony as preventive measures against domestic violence and she has conducted more than 300 sessions on domestic violence, elder abuse, and other community related issues.
Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award – Organisation
CORE Community Services
CORE Community Services Ltd (CORE CS) is a not-for-profit organisation that has been operating in South West Sydney for nearly 40 years. The organisation runs a wide range of services, activities and programs and is known for its work with diverse communities. Its service deliverables include Children’s Services, Youth Services, Multicultural Communities, Aged and Disability Care and Community Engagement. CORE CS currently operates from eleven sites across South Western Sydney that have provided support services to over 50,000 South West Sydney community members including over 4,000 refugees and humanitarian entrants largely from Iraq and Syria in the Fairfield LGA. There has been a 300% increase to the annual refugee settlement in the area.
Core CS is also a driving force behind the Fairfield City Settlement Action Plan, a city-wide plan aimed at providing the best possible settlement outcomes for all refugee and vulnerable migrant groups in and around the Fairfield LGA. CORE CS’ diverse range of services allows the organisation to provide a wraparound service to families engaged in its services.
Business Excellence – Individual
Sudhir arrived in Australia from India in 1990. Upon arrival, Sudhir joined Sydney Showboats as a waiter. By 1998, he had been promoted to the position of CEO and shortly after in 2005, had acquired the entire business from Accor Hotels.
Having achieved success in a highly competing environment himself, Sudhir has dedicated himself to creating employment and training opportunities to new migrants.
Business Excellence – Social Enterprise
Humanitix has created the first not-for-profit events ticketing platform, which redistributes 100% of profits from booking fees to fund charity projects working to alleviate poverty, disadvantage and inequality. Humanitix aims to assist any child or adult in Australia who is left behind due to poverty, disadvantage or education gaps, including those with disabilities who are marginalised from community participation.
To date, Humanitix has sold over $9 million in tickets, improving accessibility for over 40,000 disabled people at events and transforming $300,000 in booking fees into 300 nights of shelter for domestic violence survivors, 3,000 hours of schooling/mentoring, 15,000 meals for disadvantaged children and 300 hours of mental health services.
Ibrahim Taha is an Australian Muslim of Lebanese descent. He has become an active member of his local community participating in not-for-profit organisations. Ibrahim began his contribution to his local community as a 14-year-old, when he was nominated by his local MP to speak on behalf of youth at the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament program. He raised awareness about drug and alcohol abuse, youth unemployment and domestic violence. Ibrahim is a recent HSC All-Round excellence achiever who campaigned within his school for multiculturalism, harmony and dialogue. He achieved this by leading Multicultural Day events, hosting Iftar Dinners and facilitating workshops with interfaith organisations.
Ibrahim completed high school with a reputable legacy at Homebush Boys High School and has continued to remain active, as a leader in the community. Ibrahim currently attends the University of Sydney and mentors numerous young Australian Muslims, instilling in them the idea that their religious faith and Australian nationality coalesce into an identity they should be proud of.
Lifetime Community Service Award
Odarka was born in Australia three years after her parents’ arrival as refugees from war-torn Europe post World War II. For some 49 years, she has committed herself to advocating for and supporting the maintenance of Ukrainian language, culture and traditions through her work in education, youth and women’s organisations. Odarka was the first Australian born volunteer teacher at St Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Community Languages School and has continuously volunteered her services since she was 17-years-old. Since 1994, she has been Principal of the School while maintaining a position on the National Executive, Ukrainian Education Council and working full time with the Department of Education. She was a founding member of the Ukrainian Women’s Association, Lidcombe, Olha Basarab Branch and is the current President of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of NSW and Vice President of the Federal Executive, Ukrainian Women’s Association, Australia. She also serves on the national executive of CYM, Ukrainian Youth Organisation. As a respected member of CYM, she has committed over 50 years of dedicated service, holding positions at the branch, state and National levels. Mrs Brecko continues to volunteer ensuring broader Ukrainian organisations diversify to meet the changing needs of children and families.
NSW Human Rights Medal
Sean Stimson is a human rights lawyer and social justice campaigner. Since 2015, Sean has run the International Student Legal Service NSW (ISLS) at Redfern Legal Centre, the only free, state-wide advisory service for NSW’s 206,000 plus international students. Working with marginalised migrant communities, Sean has witnessed systemic exploitation of vulnerable people on a vast scale. Dedicated to creating real, lasting change, Sean’s work extends beyond his role as a lawyer: working as an educator, an awareness raiser, and a law reformer. He is acutely aware that the only real way to create an actual and lasting change is to stem the exploitation at a legislative level. Sean has established an early recognition program (ERP) within the practice, using its unique position of direct community engagement as a front-line provider to recognise emerging trends in the early stages. Early identification of trends allows for ISLS to undertake education and awareness campaigns, consider law reform and provide the most current legal advice possible to NSW’s international students.
Rev Dr John Jegasothy – Highly Commended
The Rev. John Jegasothy is a minister with the Uniting Church in Australia, currently serving the congregation of Rosebay – Vaucluse, and the Tamil congregation in Dulwich Hill. Rev Dr Jegasothy and his family are members of the Tamil ethnic group. Before coming to Australia in 1986, Rev Dr Jegasothy served as a superintendent minister at the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka, covering areas affected by ethnic violence against Tamils. He was heavily involved in the resettlement of internally displaced people and became a spokesperson for Tamils in open forums, making him a target for the armed forces and Sinhalese. In August 1986, Rev Dr Jegasothy and his family were granted Special Humanitarian Visas and settled in Australia. Since arriving in Australia, he has worked tirelessly to promote the welfare of people seeking asylum and refugees, especially those from the Tamil ethnic group fleeing the violence of war. He is also deeply involved in promoting cross cultural relationships and multiculturalism in Australia. Rev Dr Jegasothy has been a lifetime advocate for human rights. He says his greatest achievement is seeing the people he has been working with settling down.
Arts and Culture Award
Catherine Maguire-Donvito – Winner
Co-founder and co-director of the Treehouse Theatre since 2011, Catherine has developed a structured theatre programme which conveys the real stories of young adults from refugee backgrounds, providing insight into the emotional stories of young refugees. The theatre work targets refugee students, many who have experienced or been exposed to trauma and sometimes torture. Catherine’s productions have allowed over 30,000 people to share in the heart-felt stories shared by the students who act each other’s stories. The students have also helped to promote a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by refugees.
Kay Tang – Highly Commended
Born in Taiwan in 1929, Kay immigrated to Australia in 1997 and immediately started volunteering at Willoughby City Council, NSW. She also volunteers three days a week at MOSAIC Multicultural Centre in Chatswood, where she teaches Japanese Folk Dance, Taiwanese Dance, and Flower Making to people from various cultural backgrounds.
She speaks three languages; Japanese, Mandarin, and English which she started learning at TAFE in her late 60s to become eligible for the volunteer roles at her local council.
Regional Communities Award
Lulu Tantos is the CEO of Northern Settlement Services (NSS), the leading regional multicultural organisation in the northern area of NSW. Ms Tantos has been actively involved in the settlement of migrants and refugees in the Hunter, Central Coast and New England regions of NSW for 25 years, administering projects and coordinating NSS’s expanding activities. Ms Tantos’ visionary work has taken place outside the traditional parameters of multiculturalism, and has extended NSS support services into areas of regional NSW, where migrants can often feel isolated and disconnected. A strong advocate for marginalised groups and the promotion of access and equity and social justice, Ms Tantos actively participates in relevant forums, responding to government policy on humanitarian issues through advocacy, consultative processes and submissions. She has forged excellent relationships between NSW Police and the migrant sector, to help respond quickly to issues that arise for migrant and refugee communities. Ms Tantos is currently one of two NSW representatives on the Settlement Council of Australia Executive. She was recently appointed to the DHS National Multicultural Advisory Group and is heavily involved with her local Greek community.
The Minister for Multiculturalism's awards for individuals that have demonstrated strong leadership in our state and have made a valuable contribution to community harmony and social cohesion in NSW.
Since arriving in Australia in 1989, Thuat Van Nguyen has endlessly served the community as a volunteer across numerous fundraising activities. In particular, Thuat initiated and lead the Multicultural Children’s Festival for the past 20 years. Thuat has also made a significant difference to the lives of young Vietnamese Australians.
A refugee from Vietnam, Anh set about healing conflicts within the Southeast Asian migrant community in Cabramatta. He was instrumental in setting up the first Moon Festival in Cabramatta. Over a 30-year period Anh has impacted numerous young people through his work with the Scouts and Barnardos.
Eddie is a Founder of Multicultural Tamworth and a member of Multicultural NSW’s New England North West Regional Advisory Council. Eddie is well known in his region for helping to settle some of the 86 nationalities that call Tamworth home, a role he has played for more than 20 years.
Steve has spent the past 44 years working as an interpreter and translator. He has an MA (Hons) in translating and has produced a thesis on translating legal texts and authored a book on health and medical interpreting. In his time as an interpreter, he has literally translated millions of words.
Fatma is a Kenyan-born Somali community worker and the Director of the Africultures Festival. The Africultures Festival is an annual festival showcasing the rich heritage and culture of Africa. Fatma’s work on the festival see her promoting the engagement of cross-cultural friendships, cultural identity and wider understanding within the Australian community.
April is a Skill ME Project Manager at Metro Assist. The Skill ME project helps migrants who have skills and qualifications to find employment in NSW. As a result of April’s work with the project, many clients have had real chance of mastering English, making friends and finding work.
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