Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence honour outstanding individuals and organisations that foster cross-cultural understanding, support migrants and refugees, and celebrate and preserve the diversity of cultures that make Victoria such a great place to live.
Individuals – Voluntary Work
For founding the Indian Association Cardinia Casey, the first Indian association in the outer south-east suburbs of Melbourne, which celebrates all Indian cultures and religions and provides a place for Indian communities to come together to connect, share and enjoy significant cultural festivals.
Abdu Hamid Abdullahi Mohamed
For establishing the Harari Community Association in Victoria which represents Victoria’s Ethiopian community to government and non-government institutions and supports young Ethiopian people to succeed through a weekend school where students access tutors and educational support for more than 17 years.
For his commitment to facilitating and promoting social harmony, inclusion and intercultural understanding in Victoria as Chair of the Board of Management of Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services and ensuring diverse communities are included in community service and program development.
Adem Osman Malekin
For his longstanding contributions as an advocate, support person and volunteer at the African Communities Elders Association and his contribution to delivering social and educational activities and information sessions to improve the health and wellbeing of Eritrean men and older men from the Horn of Africa.
For his efforts in raising awareness of racism in Victorian as part of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s Reducing Racism Project and his work leading the delivery of ‘Connecting the Dots’, a youth-led employment initiative which links local young Africans to employment agencies and African mentors.
For his work organising community events that foster social cohesion and in bringing people from diverse cultural backgrounds together in the Albury Wodonga region.
For his leadership and dedication to uniting people of different cultural backgrounds to improve community relations, develop cross-cultural understanding and facilitate religious discussion within Ethiopian communities and non-Ethiopian groups.
Gurpreet (Gary) Verma
For his leadership and involvement in leading numerous community projects and ongoing work in promoting interfaith and intercultural harmony, understanding and relationships among various religious and intercultural communities in the City of Melton.
For establishing the Afghan Women's Organisation Victoria over a decade ago and for her continued work as a Settlement Worker and community volunteer where she has been central in assisting newly arrived Afghan women and girls to access community, government, education and health services.
For his volunteer work and commitment to empowering multicultural communities, with a focus on improving health and wellbeing.
For his service to maintaining the cultural identity of people of South Asian heritage and encouraging local youth and emerging writers to engage in South Asian literature and the creation of Hindi works in Victoria.
For her work as a Women's Affairs and Community Liaison Officer at the Harari Community Association, where she supports and advocates for Harari women, with a strong focus on addressing the health problems associated with female genital mutilation and raising awareness of the importance of breast cancer screening through culturally appropriate health programs.
Mohammed Shabbir Alam
For his role as Secretary of the Victoria Police Muslim Association in building trust and a cohesive relationship between the Muslim community and Victoria Police, and for his many years of service volunteering for the Victorian SES, Australian Red Cross and St John Ambulance Victoria.
Dr Raju Adhikari
For founding the Federation of Nepali Community Association of Australia and for his leadership in bringing over 200 Nepali communities together across Australia to make direct contributions to Australian and Victorian government policy development.
Robert Aduer Ring
For his work towards providing educational opportunities for African Australian students, his involvement in leading community projects including the 2019 African Student Conference, and his continued work with local government, Victoria Police and community leaders.
For establishing JET Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes harmony, inclusion and peace and assists minority communities of all faiths, religions and cultures including through weekly cultural classes for children in Dandenong and Tarneit, and for fundraising to support the Nepal Earthquake Relief, the Cancer Council of Victoria, Victorian Bush Fire Victims and the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.
Selba Gondoza Luka
For establishing Afri-Aus Care, a not-for-profit which assists at-risk African young people who suffer from unresolved traumas by connecting them to mainstream social and health services and delivering mental health, educational, pre-employment and crime prevention programs and services.
For her dedication in encouraging interfaith collaboration and inclusiveness in Pakenham through music, dance, performance and the delivery of various community initiatives.
For his fundraising efforts in response to the Pakistan earthquakes, the construction of The Islamic Museum of Australia, and the Acid Victim Attack Awareness Project, and for his ongoing work to promote acceptance, unity, harmony and multiculturalism through the delivery of art and cultural festivals in Victoria.
Tania de Jong AM
For her commitment to reducing social isolation and breaking down generational, cultural, linguistic, religious and socioeconomic barriers and for founding three charities and five creative organisations which have raised funds to help build a more diverse and inclusive community and provide significant employment opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and faiths.
For his work as President of the Albanian Australian Islamic Society from 2006 to 2017, where he devoted his time to preserve and share Albanian culture and Muslim faith, lead education programs for newly arrived Albanian migrants and promote cross-cultural and inter-faith harmony in Melbourne.
Xiao Yue Wang
For her work as President of the Yarra Chinese Friendship Association and dedication to delivering projects which look to reduce social isolation, loneliness and enhance intercultural friendships for Chinese senior citizens.
Individuals – Paid Work
For his work as Principal of Noble Park Primary School where he has led a team of dedicated staff for over 14 years to support, empower and provide opportunities for students and their families who have often fled from persecution and war-torn nations.
Major Karen Elkington
For her work at the Salvation Army’s Asylum Seeker and Refugee Service where she has led multiple projects and initiatives to support and care for asylum seekers and refugees who are building new lives in Victoria.
For his outstanding leadership and tireless efforts to address issues of equity, diversity and inclusion in Victoria through the establishment and implementation of numerous AFL diversity programs which aim to increase the representation of indigenous people, people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with disabilities within the football code and for his work to ensure football has a positive influence on the multicultural Victorian community.
Australian Integrated Fijian Association of Victoria
For its work towards creating a harmonious community through partnering with many multicultural groups to celebrate diversity, the promotion of intercultural, generational and religious understanding and the delivery of significant cultural events.
Bachar Houli Foundation
For its effective engagement in building cross-community connections and increasing acceptance between different cultural and religious groups through the establishment of the first Muslim Football Academy in Australia, the implementation of The Jolson/Houli Unity Game which engaged and connected Victoria’s Muslim and Jewish communities and the delivery of collaborative cross-cultural training session and AFL sporting programs.
St Paul's Catholic Social Club's Mirboo North Italian Festa Committee
For its leadership and commitment to preserving and sharing Italian culture through its annual Mirboo North Italian Festa, a full day event that celebrates Italian culture through cuisine, storytelling, dance and performance.
Tesselaar Tulip Festival
For its delivery of the Tesselaar Tulip Festival which has created employment opportunities for people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds in the Dandenong Ranges and continues to showcase Turkish culture, promote diversity and encourages friendship and mutual understanding between Victoria’s Turkish community and other communities.
For its work in promoting and recognising the significant contributions of musical artists from diverse cultural backgrounds in shaping Victoria’s rich, vibrant society and for encouraging them to share their voice and the voice of their communities at festivals, events, music releases and through radio programs.
Victorian Cultural Association
For its commitment to strengthening Wyndham’s multicultural community and promoting respect and a sense of belonging to individuals and community groups from all cultural backgrounds through the delivery of its annual Wyndham Holi – Festival of Colour.
The award recognises short-term projects that use outside-the-box thinking to address a problem facing a diverse community and that shares knowledge about a culture with a wider audience.
Cooking: The Art of Belonging by Wellsprings for Women
Wellsprings for Women’s project, Cooking: The Art of Belonging, aimed to use the medium of cooking and sharing food as an avenue for reducing social isolation and generating intercultural connection in women of diverse cultural backgrounds.
A series of community events were hosted, with each event led by one of the women in the group showcasing dishes from her culture. The events were planned to coincide with signiﬁcant dates such as International Women's Day, Mother’s Day, Refugee Week and International Volunteers Day.
The program supported participants to complete an accredited food handling course. Some of the women who attended the program have gone on to start their own micro-enterprise catering businesses, while others continue to cook together for events at Wellsprings, helping new women joining the program.
Food has been the catalyst for the group to come together, but the learnings run much deeper than cooking – the events have become a safe and joyous space for these women to share their voices and actively bring their diverse communities together.
Since 2014, Kulturbrille has developed and delivered programs around family violence, mental health and general health to many culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Melbourne and have worked with multiple agencies, organisations and local government to customise their existing community services to fit the unique needs of each community.
One of Kulturbrille’s flagship initiatives is their Prevention of Violence against Women Leadership Program, which aims to raise awareness of family violence to leaders in multicultural communities and empower them to deliver culturally sensitive primary prevention strategies within their own communities. Since the program commenced, over 75 participants have been trained and are now delivering projects within their own communities. A key success of the program has been providing community leaders with the skills and capabilities they need to collaborate and develop projects that resonate within their communities. This allows for messages to be given and received with sensitivity and cultural intelligence and awareness.
This award recognises outstanding educational practice which enhances intercultural understanding and meets the needs of children and young people from diverse communities.
Winner – School Education
Melton Secondary College
Celebration of diversity is at the heart of the Melton Secondary College vision: a flourishing learning community achieving academic growth and bright futures for every student. The college responded to the steady increase in enrolment of students of South Sudanese heritage with a range of programs focused on mentoring and community engagement, to build a culturally rich and supportive community within the college.
The approach has been highly effective in achieving improved outcomes for students of African heritage, including reducing the number and severity of adverse incidents, increasing participation of African families at college student progress and careers sessions, increasing student participation in school and increasing overall students’ perceptions regarding diversity.
The college has earned praise for the quality and impact of its programs and it continues to share its work with other schools through various forums and programs, working together to ensure that all schools are not just culturally safe and inclusive places for learning, but embedded in communities which are enriched by cultural diversity.
Highly Commended – School Education
Merrilyn Gaulke, Crusoe College and White Hills Primary School
Merrilyn is an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher at Crusoe Secondary College and White Hills Primary School. On a day-to-day basis Merilyn incorporates multilingual methods and trauma informed practices into her classroom to support students and families who have recently arrived in Victoria.
In 2017, as part of Harmony Day and the Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) film project, Merrilyn organised local film-maker, Jamie Roberts to attend her EAL class and provide students with the opportunity to create their own short films covering their personal journeys to Australia and their future dreams and ambitions. The short films have become an important resource that are shared and used as a learning tool in the wider community. Merrilyn continues to support Harmony Day by developing integrated learning programs where her students produce and present major projects highlighting their cultural journey. As a member of the Bendigo SEALS (Supporting EAL Students) team, Merrilyn is a driving force at mapping, aligning and implementing the old to new EAL Curriculum.
Winner – Early Childhood Education
VICSEG New Futures
VICSEG New Future’s Learning Together program addresses barriers to learning English for over 300 parents and 500 young Victorian children each year. Delivered with support from local primary schools and settlement services, the program provides a supported learning environment, combining a pre-accredited English literacy course for parents, on-site child care and playgroup activities for parents and children to enjoy together.
In their role as their child’s first teacher, parents are encouraged to embed a strong connection with their child’s home culture and ‘mother tongue’, while simultaneously learning more English language words and concepts alongside their young child. Parents are shown a range of creative and fun ways to enhance their children’s bilingual oral language development through songs, rhymes and games, as well as reading and stories. The program uses a strength-based approach to engage parents and children and is effective in supporting parents to read to their child in both English and their home language.
Learning Together has been found to have overwhelming positive outcomes for both parents and young children. The program has successfully engaged parents from a range of different cultural and language backgrounds and has proved equally valuable across all participating communities.
This award recognises newly arrived migrants and refugees who have contributed to harmony and diversity in Victoria through outstanding leadership and a dedication to voluntary community service.
Since arriving in Australia in 2017, Christian has supported young refugees and migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo to build their capabilities and showcase their skills, culture and traditions to broader Victoria.
Passionate about bringing people from diverse backgrounds together, earlier this year Christian led a committee to organise the 2019 Afro Beat Festival, which saw over 350 people from all walks of life celebrate African culture through music, dance, songs, poetry and drumming. As a young advocate for refugee and migrant youth, Christian has been pivotal in raising awareness of major issues facing young refugees and migrants as a member of the Multicultural Youth Network and when attending the 2019 FUSE Youth Summit National Conference. In his current roles as a Multicultural Support Worker at Albury Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council and as an Academic Support Worker at Wodonga TAFE he continues to support and advocate for people from the Congolese community and assist recently arrived migrants and refugees to overcome language barriers.
Former refugee from Myanmar, Eh has been instrumental in creating connections between migrant and refugee communities, organisations and individuals, in Wyndham, Wonthaggi, Morwell, Nhill, Bendigo, Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne.
Between 2017 and 2018, Eh assisted in the coordination of Migrante Melbourne’s Identity, Inclusion, and Connection Project, a community theatre initiative where migrants and refugees from Africa, Philippines and Myanmar shared their stories of migration and life after settling in Victoria. Beyond this project, Eh continues to build relationships between communities and assist them to work together to respond to community issues. As part of the Victorian Karen Leaders Network, Eh plays a central role in ensuring Karen heritage is not forgotten by young Karen-Australians by teaching the Karen culture through dance, music and performing arts.
This award recognises government departments, agencies and local councils who have delivered major initiatives that have improved access to community services for multicultural citizens.
City of Greater Bendigo
In an environment where the region’s acceptance of multiculturalism has been tested in recent years, the City of Greater Bendigo has shown leadership and a commitment to developing a community that fosters culturally inclusive attitudes and practice and welcomes increased diversity.
The Greater Bendigo Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2016-2019 was an ambitious, community-wide, strategic program of 146 initiatives to advance cultural inclusion and support Greater Bendigo to be a welcoming city for all. The City of Greater Bendigo worked proactively in partnerships with local schools, Victoria Police and a network of community organisations to deliver the initiatives.
Projects under the plan have assisted the effective settlement of new migrants and refugees, raised community awareness about human rights issues, celebrated different cultures, promoted religious and cultural awareness and supported community participation.
Greater Shepparton City Council
Greater Shepparton City Council is actively involved in the promotion and celebration of cultural diversity in the community and is continually striving to improve awareness and understanding of the economic, educational, social and cultural benefits of multiculturalism and to mitigate the effects of racism and cultural isolation.
The St Georges Road Food Festival is an annual multicultural festival, which has run for the past six years, celebrating and fostering the cultural diversity of Shepparton, both within and outside the region. Originally conceived to build greater awareness of the diverse businesses that operate on St Georges Rd, the festival aims to support and raise Shepparton’s profile through the celebration of rich and vibrant cultural traditions through music, performance, food and activities.
While food is the hero of the day, many different community associations also participate and share their cultural traditions, hosting activities including henna painting, hair braiding, turban tying and a cricket match.
This award acknowledges journalists or media organisations who have made an outstanding effort to highlight issues of importance to diverse communities.
SBS Somali and SBS Italian
For over 40 years, SBS has been at the heart of reaching Victoria’s multicultural communities and sharing their unique experiences, values, culture and faiths with the broader community.
In 2017, after the tragic events of Melbourne’s Bourke Street attack, SBS Somali and SBS Italian coverage helped to defy negative stereotypes of Victoria’s Somali and Muslim communities and reinforced compassion and mutual understanding. By covering the story in both mainstream and in-language media, communities were able to hear about the events in their own language. SBS chose to reflect throughout their coverage that the tragic events that occurred were inflicted by one man and do not reflect the values and beliefs of Victoria’s Somali and Muslim communities.
To assist Melbourne to rebuild together, SBS reached out to beloved representatives of the Italian, Somali and Muslim communities and enabled each community to share their messages of healing, unity and condolences to Sisto Malaspina’s family and the wider Victoria community.
Yin Wu has served the Victorian Chinese-language community as a journalist at the Australian public broadcasters’ ABC Radio Australia and SBS Mandarin, for more than 10 years. In her current role, Yin reports on issues affecting Chinese-speaking Victorians, and has been tireless in her efforts to represent, engage and inspire the Australian Chinese community.
Yin’s energy and commitment has helped keep the Chinese community informed with up-to-date news on local and international affairs, as well as bring attention to and empower those that are marginalised. In November 2018, prior to the first anniversary of Australia’s same-sex marriage legislation, Yin produced a feature radio program which included an interview with Nancy, a migrant from Taiwan and an active member of the Victorian LGBTIQ community.
Throughout the interview, Nancy disproved myths often used to stigmatise LGBTIQ people and discussed how members of the LGBTIQ community are working through prejudices from different religious, ethnic and national backgrounds. Yin has published a series of stories advocating for greater understanding of the struggles facing LGBTIQ people in the Chinese community that bring attention to how an increasingly ethnically and religiously heterogeneous LGBTIQ community is evolving and striving to promote cross-cultural understanding among its members, and that encourage Chinese Australians to develop more tolerance towards LGBTIQ people and their rights in the broader community.
This award recognises businesses which provide outstanding service to multicultural communities in Victoria and are leading the way in encouraging diversity in their workplace.
Preston Chassis Industries
Preston Chassis Industries is a chassis manufacturer and supplier, based in Campbellfield. Founded in the late 1970s by two Italian migrants, the company has grown to be a leader in their industry and an employer of choice.
With a strong belief in the benefits of diversity and a commitment to maximising opportunities for people from multicultural backgrounds, the company now employs staff from more than 20 cultures and faiths.
A long-time employer of skilled migrants under the Australian Government’s 457 skilled visa program, the company has supported several staff to apply for permanent residency. Their dedication to this program has made for a rich and dynamic workplace, with a welcoming and generous culture.
Thrive Refugee Enterprise
Thrive Refugee Enterprise helps refugees and asylum seekers to start small businesses in Australia. They provide business advice, support and microfinance loans.
Giving new arrivals access to financial business support earlier in the settlement process has a range of benefits. It supports refugees to integrate to the community, enables them to build on their entrepreneurial skills and helps them to achieve economic independence while maximising their contribution to the economy.
With a goal of remaining accessible and providing culturally appropriate support for their clients, Thrive Refugee Enterprise hires a culturally diverse and multilingual workforce and partners with a network of community-based organisations that support refugees and asylum seekers.
These awards recognise outstanding contributions to multicultural harmony in the field of policing.
Police Annual Multicultural Award
Leading Senior Constable Dean Lloyd
Leading Senior Constable Lloyd serves in the City of Shepparton, a significant and changing multicultural city of 50,000 people with a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Its multicultural success, not without its challenges, has been partly built on the commitment of Victoria Police to the city’s multicultural agenda and Leading Senior Constable Lloyd’s leadership in this work through the All Cultures Police Youth Committee, the culturally and linguistically diverse Men’s Fishing Program, Law Education sessions and community bus trips to football matches. He has been a reassuring support to local communities in times of overseas crises, supported talks at local secondary colleges on forced marriages and encourages culturally diverse police recruitment with bus visits to the police academy. Also commendable has been his presidency of the Shepparton Blue Ribbon Foundation.
Ela has played a ground-breaking role in facilitating positive and productive relationship between Victoria Police and Muslim communities and in creating a spirit of support and camaraderie among Muslims in Victoria Police in her current role as the chairperson of the Victoria Muslim Police Association (VMPA) and her support and advice to Muslim members. Ela has mentored prospective police applicants, participated in lecturing at the Police Academy, participated in Eid festivals and supported events for young Muslin women. Ela played a key role in a Benevolence Iftar dinner in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre and coordinated a VMPA Friendship Walk to acknowledge the victims and support Muslim communities.
Leading Senior Constable Gordon Exner
Described as a tireless worker, Leading Senior Constable Exner has done much work with and for Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and increasingly with the Oromo and Pacific Islander communities in recent years. He has developed a school-based trainee program in which 41 school students have worked in police stations for one day a week. Leading Senior Constable Exner is greatly admired and respected by young people from diverse background and many of the participants in his school-based trainee program cite him as their inspiration for wanting to pursue careers within Victoria Police.
Senior Constable Paul Guy
For seven years, Senior Constable Guy worked in Robinvale on the Murray River before his transfer to Whitfield in 2017. Throughout his career, his efforts in reaching out to communities such as the Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Malaysian communities through initiatives such as a local indoor soccer competition, have led to strong links to culturally and linguistically diverse leaders and an increase in the reporting of serious crime. His commitment to supporting multiculturalism has been further demonstrated at Whitfield with events such as community morning teas and celebrations of the area’s multicultural history, which brought positive publicity to Victoria Police, particularly after the Myrhee fires.
Inspector Jackie Poida
Over the past two years, Inspector Poida has shown great initiative and innovation in the support of the Rohingya community. She sponsored community forums and women support groups which have led to a Rohingya Family Day, as well as engaging with the elders and community leaders. Together with an app design company and a Rohingya interpreter, she created a special app for Rohingya people, providing an easy way for the community to access services, transport and other information to connect them to the broader community.
Senior Constable Shanice Vilone
Senior Constable Vilone has been a Police Multicultural Liaison officer for two years, but she has been contributing to police multicultural initiatives for much longer. She has worked closely with new and emerging communities, especially Muslim communities with her work with the Preston East Islamic College, attending their camps, arranging Iftar dinners and teaching girls to drive, as well as the Himilo Community Connect Program for young Somali women and children in West Heidelberg, including presenting them with a career option in Victoria Police. She has helped with the Concord School in Bundoora and Watsonia for students with additional learning needs, presenting personal safety talks to Latrobe University’s international students. She has also participated in a local Blue EDGE (Educate, Develop, Grow, Empower) program which is part of the BlueLight crime prevention program and is a physical training program that builds relationships between police and young people and their families.
Leading Senior Constable Elizabeth Sidiropoulos
In her role as Multicultural Liaison Officer, Leading Senior Constable Sidiropoulos has been described as a quiet achiever. She has supported the Iranian community by delivering information and cultural training for police, through which she has developed a close and productive relationship with the Eastern Melbourne Migrant Information Centre at Forest Hill. She has supported communities following overseas incidents. Through her close relationships with Arabic Muslim leaders, particularly following the Christchurch massacre but also in connection with the tensions over the Gaza Strip, she has been able to provide reassurance and support. Through her work with the Australian Tertiary Security Committee, she gives presentations to tertiary students, especially those from overseas, on Australian culture and safety issues in her region’s tertiary institutions.
Police Multicultural Media Award
As a senior communications adviser in the Victoria Police Media Unit, Cathy has been managing a multicultural reference group for the past 18 months, managing a weekly roster for Greek-speaking police officers delivering weekly community safety messages on 3XY Radio Hellas and sharing a range of crime prevention stories across mainstream and multicultural media. She has done so according to her philosophy that no community is too small to receive the attention she provides, and she immensely contributes to and cements the relationship between Victoria Police and multicultural Victoria.
Police Community Exemplary Award
Victoria Police Applicant Attraction Team
The Victoria Police Applicant Attraction Team has been in operation for three years and is working to implement the Diversity Recruitment Program in partnership with the African Australian Multicultural Employment Youth Services, Jesuit Social Services, AMES Australia, MatchWorks and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. The 15-week program aims to recruit African Australians into Victoria Police through mentoring and support, as well as mentoring training officers in the police academy. In addition, the team has formed yarning circles for prospective Indigenous applicants and participated in Aspirations Day, an Indigenous careers day as well as other initiatives.
Greater Dandenong Youth and Emerging Community Leaders Program
This educational and training program, initiated by Acting Superintendent Mark Langhorn and professionally run in association with Leadership Victoria, aims to develop young leaders from more recently arrived immigrant and refugee communities, building up their skills in learning about leadership and creating networks. With 20 young leaders participating from Afghan, Indian, Iranian, Koori, Pakistani, Rohingya, South Sudanese and Vietnamese backgrounds, the program consists of an overnight retreat followed by four day-long seminars and a final presentation dinner, with input from experts and local community and political leaders. This project has already begun to lead to new initiatives.
Victorian Fisheries Authority
Since 2009, Victoria Police and the Victorian Fisheries Authority have had a very productive relationship in engaging multicultural communities in issues surrounding fishing, including the laws and regulations and the not-so-small matter of lighting campfires when fishing. The 2019 Recreational Fishing Guide has recently been published in 11 different languages. Specific projects have included working with the Burmese community on the cultural norm of lighting campfires, even on total fire ban days when fishing, and the Reach One/Teach a Dozen educational program in the Greater Shepparton area with some police accredited to run community awareness programs of fishing legislation and licensing requirements. In May 2019, the Multicultural Fishing for Culture Day was held at Williamstown Gem pier with 2,000 young and old participants.
Dr Hussein Haraco
Dr Haraco is a Somali leader with a PhD in economics and a business entrepreneur who has provided meaningful leadership in a community to support social cohesion. He has played an instrumental role in cementing the relationship between the Somali community and Victoria Police and in the formation of Himilo Community Connect to improve the educational, employment, health and social cohesion outcomes for the Somali community of West Heidelberg. Dr Haraco has held the positions of president and secretary of the Somali Australian Council of Victoria (SACOV) and worked in organising various events for Somali Week in December. As well as sponsoring a Somali Youth Leadership Program, he has facilitated cultural exchanges between Somali Australians and people in Somalia. A very commendable innovation has been his championing and leadership of a Somali Elders Council which has a special and honoured place in the community. His tireless generosity and caring commitment for his own community members who have come from a very fractured and divided nation deserves to be honoured in a special way.
Williamstown Police Station Diversity & Inclusion Room
Sparked by a concern that its Muslim police and Protective Services Officers had no appropriate space for their daily prayers, the Williamstown Police under Inspector Chris Allen have addressed this with a multi-purpose room to provide a dedicated space for prayer and a time-out room for police members who are often called upon to confront very challenging and taxing situations. The room also serves as a respectful and quiet place for mothers to express breast milk. The initiative had no budget, but contributions such as suitable furniture were contributed by station members. On the ceiling, there is a kiblah that tells the direction to Mecca and the room contains traditional Aboriginal artwork. This Diversity and Inclusion Room stands as a model to other police stations not only in Victoria but throughout Australia.
Wyndham Citizens’ Academy
The Wyndham Citizens’ Academy represents a special and innovative police project in Melbourne’s outer western area with a very rapidly growing, and mainly multicultural population. It was developed in conjunction with the Wyndham Community and Education Centre and was designed to allow local immigrants and refugees to learn about Victoria’s policing and justice systems. It is entitled A Walk Through Justice and is comprised of an eight-week program beginning with a visit to the Victorian Parliament with subsequent visits to places such as the Wyndham North police station, the Sunshine Magistrates Court and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. A very informative 20-minute video incorporating some of the reactions of the 35 participants from countries as varied as Burma (Karen), Malaysia, Somalia, South Sudan and Thailand gives their very positive impressions. It reflects their comments on issues addressed such as the role of the courts, the prevention of youth crime and the role of mediation as an alternative pathway.
This award recognises an individual or organisation whose work has brought together different cultural or religious groups to increase understanding, acceptance and cooperation.
Born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and raised in a refugee camp in Kenya, Nyadol settled in Australia at the age of 18. Since then, she has completed a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne.
Outside her work as a commercial litigator, Nyadol is an advocate for human rights, multiculturalism, the settlement of refugees and people seeking asylum and has volunteered extensively in these areas for more than 10 years.
In 2019, Nyadol was recognised as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence for her contribution to diversity and inclusion. In both 2011 and 2014, Nyadol was nominated as one of the hundred most influential African Australians. She is currently a board member of the Melbourne University Social Equity Institute.
This award recognises the outstanding contributions young people make to a diverse and inclusive Victoria.
Selin is a passionate young woman who is committed to building a united, multicultural Victoria. Her love of football motivated her to become a Community Champion for Hume’s Centre for Multicultural Youth.
In 2018, Selin assisted with 12 in-school football sessions for primary and secondary students, the Welcome Football Cup in Hume and a school holiday program. In each of her roles, Selin was actively involved in developing strategies to specifically engage young girls who were unaccustomed to participating in sporting activities. Her active engagement and willingness to support these girls and share her own experiences resulted in participants and their families regularly sharing that Selin contributed to them feeling more confident and connected to community.
Yasac is the current President of the Australian Muslim Social Services Agency (AMSSA) Youth Connect, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to ensure that migrant and refugee young people feel connected and have a place to freely express themselves, enabling them to positively contribute to society.
Under the guidance of Yasac, AMSSA Youth Connect has held a yearly Indoor Soccer Tournament to remove the barriers blocking community’s ability to be united. Seeing a need within the community, Yasac contributed to the development of a 10-week swimming program, in conjunction with the Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre, for refugee and migrant children. The program has ensured that children who have little or no experience in swimming can be safe around the water. Yasac has contributed enormously to instilling resilience and confidence within the Muslim youth of Melbourne and hopes to continue to work with his community.
Reviewed 28 November 2019