Multicultural Awards recognise Victoria’s 2017 Diversity Heroes
Victoria’s 2017 Diversity Heroes were announced and celebrated at the official ceremony for Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence 2017 held at Government House on
A total of 61 Victorians were acknowledged for their dedication to supporting cultural diversity in Victoria, highlighting achievements for multicultural communities across a wide range of areas including youth, innovation, business, government, education, media, leadership, community service and policing.
Proudly presented by the Victorian Multicultural Commission on behalf of the Victorian Government, the awards celebrated their 16th year with the recognition of past VMC Commissioners and new Multicultural Champions.
Read the full list of recipients and find out about our newest Diversity Heroes below, as well as some of our ceremony surprises.
Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll
Psychology researcher at Deakin University’s Geelong campus, Dr Matin Ghayour Minaie, was awarded the prestigious Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll for her outstanding leadership. Dr Minaie has demonstrated her commitment to successful settlement journeys by volunteering her time to help migrants, refugees and international students settle into the local community. Originally from Iran, Dr Minaie co-founded the Geelong Iranian Society in 2007 and established the first Persian-language program on local community radio station 94.7 The Pulse. Passionate about social cohesion, Dr Minaie is particularly interested in helping parents from migrant and refugee backgrounds to raise their children in harmony with both their own cultural values and those of Australian culture.
Premier’s Award for Community Harmony
Founder and Director of the not-for-profit AMAFHH Federation, Batul Gulani, received the prestigious Premier’s Award for Community Harmony in recognition of her outstanding commitment to wellbeing, inclusion & harmony for culturally diverse communities. Passionate about the empowerment of diverse Victorians, Batul’s leadership through social and counselling services offered at the AMAFHH Federation has aimed to build the wellbeing of diverse communities – with a particular focus on young people and women, including people experiencing domestic violence and abuse. A professional psychotherapist herself, Batul has also established counselling programs specifically for Shia Muslims. Working to bring people together in cooperation, she has also established the Islamic Shia Council of Victoria, uniting more than 20 Shia organisations and recently joined the Victorian Government’s Multifaith Advisory Group, which includes members of all major faiths represented in the state.
Youth worker with Brimbank City Council, Martha Metuisela, was the 2017 winner of the Youth Award for her work to support Pasifika youth in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Growing up with a Tongan background in Australia, Martha has drawn on her experience to identify closely with the challenges faced by young people from diverse backgrounds. Her work has built the confidence in young people by highlighting their potential and inspiring them to participate in their local communities. At a collaborative level, Martha co-founded Westside Pasifika as a youth advisory group that runs strengths-based programs, forums, and cultural competency training and also runs events such as My Island Dream – a 2016 cultural performance which brought together Pasifika high school students, their parents and communities. More recently, she has been involved in projects for Pasifika and African youth which aim to foster intercultural understanding and provide a forum to discuss common strengths and challenges in the areas of health, wellbeing, education and employment.
SBS journalist Abby Dinham was presented with the Media Award for her stories about new migrants and refugees who are kicking goals, both on and off the sporting field. Abby’s profiles have included South Sudanese AFL hopeful Buku Khamis, Turkish-Cypriot horse trainer Saab Hasan, and the first Victorian police officer to wear a hijab, Maha Sukkar. Her stories have also highlighted local sporting clubs that are giving newly-arrived Victorians a sense of belonging. Clubs such as ACE FC – whose players are mostly girls who have come from Afghanistan as refugees – and the All Nations Cricket team – which is helping asylum seekers in Melbourne’s east to beat the waiting game blues. Abby places great emphasis on building trust within multicultural communities to ensure her stories are reported fairly, accurately and with sensitivity to the group in question. Her reports touch on the racism and stereotyping often experienced by her subjects, and aim to overcome readers’ prejudices by giving multicultural community members a platform to talk about their achievements and aspirations.
Winner of the Business Award, NAB, demonstrated its commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce through its African-Australian Inclusion Program. A partnership with Jesuit Social Services, the program began in 2009 and provides six months of fully paid and supported work experience to qualified African-Australians. Of the 300 participants in the program, 75% have found ongoing employment in their chosen field and more than 65% are still employed at NAB. Participants have come from a total of 23 African countries and gained experience in a large Australian corporate environment which has helped to develop their technical, cultural and interpersonal skills and knowledge. Recognising the importance of caring for and supporting participants towards their success, NAB and Jesuit Social Services ensure participants are supported by a volunteer team of leaders, mentors, coaches and buddies, who provide day-to-day guidance, skills development and networking opportunities.
Protective Services Officer Multicultural Award
As LGBTI Liaison Officer at Victoria Police, PSO Nicoletta Anaston has done much to build up the relationship between police and the LGBTI community over the past two years through women’s soccer matches – with a special focus on inclusion. Nicolette has been especially successful in making women from various cultural and faith communities feel included in the soccer matches, building a sense of familiarity to ensure they are more comfortable in dealing with police and PSOs in the future.
Bendigo was the centre for innovation as Kaye Graves, Manager of the cultural diversity team at Bendigo Community Health Services (BCHS), received the Community Innovation Award. Ms Graves was integral to combating anti-Islam sentiment that erupted in response to a 2015 proposal to build a mosque in the regional city. In partnership with a group called Believe in Bendigo, BCHS held six “Understanding Islam” sessions throughout 2016 and 2017. As well as fostering greater intercultural understanding among everyday community members, the sessions provided health workers and other service providers with useful insights which have improved the way they support Muslim families. The success of the original sessions led Kaye and BCHS to coordinate a session targeted at local hairdressers, acknowledging the central role they play in conversations in the community. The hairdressers involved reported that the session was extremely beneficial in building their understanding of diverse cultures.
Former Victorian Multicultural Commissioners recognised
The Multicultural Awards ceremony also paid tribute to the dedication and service of past VMC Commissioners, recognising the invaluable contributions they made during their tenure.
The evening honoured the following people who have served as VMC Commissioners:
Safa Almarhoun, Phillip Bain, Maryum Chaudry, Teresa De Fazio, Elizabeth Drozd, Yasmin Hassen, Peter Khalil, Marion Lau, Grahame Leonard, Jenny Matic, Huss Mustafa, Abeselom Nega, Chidambaram (Srini) Srinivasan, and Chin Tan.
Multicultural Champions announced
Victoria’s new Multicultural Champions program acknowledges Victorians who have been instrumental in breaking down barriers between culturally diverse communities.
The Victorian Multicultural Commission will provide ongoing promotion of the Champions’ work through the program and support them to further expand their networks.
The Multicultural Awards ceremony officially recognised Multicultural Champions Parsuram Sharma-Luital and Deepak Vinayak, who will participate in the program alongside Saara Sabbagh.