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.
Sarah is passionate about working with young people with disabilities and was a key coordinator of Liverpool City Council’s 2014 International Disability Week. She also helped 70 disadvantaged young people build their own bikes through the Happiness Cycle program.
Sarah is now planning the Mandaean Got Talent event which seeks to celebrate the talents of Mandean young people.
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.
Youth Encouragement Award
William Ho (Chinese)
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.
Through his work with Regional Youth Support Service, William works to provide support services for young people on the Central Coast. He has also volunteered his time for a number of campaigns including the NOH8 visual protest campaign, the ‘Wear it With Pride’ and ‘The Line’ to raise awareness of youth issues.
William has created award-winning youth engagement initiatives including the Youth Action Best Youth Led Project for the Central Coast Youth Consultantsand was recently selected as one of four finalists for the Young Achiever Award at the 2014 ACON Honour Awards.
William remains committed to promoting equality for all Australians.
Arts and Culture
Paroula Galelis-Thurban (Greek)
Paroula Galelis-Thurban has been an ambassador for the art of Greek dancing in Australia since she arrived in Australia in 1964. As a teacher, Greek folklore specialist, Greek language teacher, dance instructor and choreographer, Paroula has dedicated her life in Australia to enriching the Greek and wider communities.
Paroula is successful in not only teaching her students the art of dance, but also to develop resilience, self-belief, pride in self, family and culture and community.
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.
Paroula’s 50-year career and contribution to multiculturalism has enabled the Greek community to maintain links to cultural heritage and traditions.
Jin Feng (Jeff) Li (Chinese)
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.
AITC has established a technological base in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China with aims to enhance collaboration between Australia and China.
Jeff has successfully led delegations to trade shows to showcase Australian technology, including Computex in Taiwan, Hi-Tech Fair in China and ICT Expo in Hong Kong.
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 (South Sudanese)
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 a diverse background. Originally for the African community, this program now caters for all cultures and has evolved to have a stronger cultural education focus rather than academic.
John has worked to bridge the gap with police and community and has represented the African community whenever required, particularly in times of crisis.
A trained volunteer community fire-fighter, John helps newly arrived families to prevent fires in their homes.
Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award
Nalika Priyadharshi Padmasena (Sri Lankan)
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 is currently Chairperson of Multicultural Services @ Toongabbie and Treasurer of Toongabbie Legal Centre.
Lifetime Community Service
Ruben Amores (Filipino)
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 and comfortable housing accommodation for families who have experienced housing stress.
Ruben successfully formed harmonious communities from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds at the five Sydney sites where KCL properties are located. KCL has led the way in cooperative housing and has served as a model for other communities. 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. ASCON is a network of more than 20 culturally diverse communities and not-for-profit organisations which aims to stamp out discrimination and promote a harmonious society.
Ruben joined with a group of Filipino community leaders to organise the umbrella body, the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations Inc (APCO), which has more than 40 affiliate groups spread over NSW. APCO has built strong partnerships with community organisations and advocates for disadvantaged sectors of the community including refugees, recent migrants, women, youth and the elderly.
Multicultural Honour Roll
Frances Armitage 1935- 2014 (Australian)
Frances Armitage supported the Armidale African and South Sudanese communities through her work as a Northern Settlement Services volunteer and a former President of the Armidale Sanctuary Humanitarian Settlement Inc.
Frances mentored many young former refugees to ensure that they accessed the opportunities offered by the community. Frances had a special connection with young mothers and babies and offered support to many young families living without close family support and provided both practical and emotional support.
Francis’ leadership and dedication to breaking down barriers has enabled successful settlement for South Sudanese and African families and laid the foundations for an inclusive regional community.
Mary Dimech 1951 – 2009 (Maltese)
Mary Dimech migrated to Australia from Malta and settled in Queenstown, Tasmania. In 1973, she graduated from the University of New South Wales with a bachelor degree in social work and became heavily involved in community work in both Melbourne and Sydney.
Mary was active in numerous roles including being the first Chairperson of the Ethnic Childcare Cooperative, working for the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW and also being the Director of the Race Discrimination Unit and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
Another of her key achievements included working as the National Programs Manager for Multicultural Arts at the Australia Council where she initiated the Council’s first multicultural arts policy.
She was a passionate and dedicated advocate for ethnic communities, minority groups and women. Her commitment to marginalised communities is an inspiration.
Chy Pou Yeak 1948 – 2005 (Cambodian)
Mr Chy Pou arrived as a refugee in Australia in 1982. He studied English and worked as a factory labourer to support his young family and later establishing his own clothing factory and other successful businesses in Cabramatta East.
In 1995, Mr Yeak was involved in establishing the Salvation and Cambodian Culture Association of NSW to help cater for the increasing needs of Cambodian community and to maintain Buddhism and Cambodian culture among the emerging Cambodian community.
Through his leadership, a block of land at Canley Vale was purchased by the Association in 1997 with an existing and very run down property. Mr Yeak worked very hard to get the bank loan and raised the necessary funds to get council’s permission to develop the site into a multi-purpose community centre, which is today enjoyed by many members of the Cambodian community.
Chy Pou focused his work on building bridges between the various organisations to maintain peace and harmony within both the Cambodian community and wider community in the area.