Humanitarian Awards 2017
Photo: James Alcock, RCOA
African Women’s Group
This award is for an outstanding project working with or assisting refugees. The project can be run by an individual, group or organisation, and can either be ongoing or completed during the last year.
The African Women’s Group started operating over 10 years ago and was founded by a group of strong African female leaders and community workers. Over the years the group has implemented numerous initiatives to support African women including the Annual African Women’s Dinner Dance, the Cultural Exchange and the African Women’s Conference.
This award is for small or large businesses employing, assisting, established/run by or in any other way supporting refugees.
Nirary Dacho, who arrived as a refugee from Syria and frustrated with not finding a job, met Anna Robson, recently returned from working on Nauru. They turned their frustration into Refugee Talent an employment agency linking refugees looking for work, with organisations looking to employ them. Refugee Talent has already placed over 60 people into employment.
Individuals or organisations from the government or legal sectors working to advise, assist or support asylum seekers or refugees.
Over the past 5 years, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) has grown its provision of vital legal assistance to reach over 5000 people, despite the government retracting funds. Working in collaboration with community support services, volunteer interpreters from refugee communities and pro bono law firms, RACS has provided quality legal advice, drop in advice sessions, statement taking, supervised form filling and provided migration advice to people who would otherwise not be able to access legal help. RACS provides the only free service available in NSW to people who came by boat seeking safety.
Media outlets, journalists or media officers supporting, prioritising and/or raising awareness of refugee issues.
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish journalist who is in detention on Manus Island. Despite his isolation and exposure to the trauma of murder, death and indefinite detention, he continues to write articles that Australian and international media and has recently collaborated with a film maker to produce the film ‘Chauka – Please Tell Us the time’, shot entirely on a mobile phone and in secret.
Refugee Community Worker
A former refugee working on refugee issues with their own or other refugee communities, in either a paid or unpaid position.
Sujan came to Australia as a young refugee with his family from Sri Lanka. A lifelong refugee advocate, Sujan engages today as a community worker and through arts and cultural development with a special focus on the Sri Lankan Tamil community. Integral in developing the MANTRA group (sexual violence related group at STARTTS) and a key member of the STARTTS Tamil consultation which happened in 2015, Sujan also assisted in running a film making workshop for Tamil young people which resulting in the film ‘For the Love of Rice’. Sujan and his family also started the Tamil Resource Centre.
A member of the broader Australian community, of any background, supporting and assisting refugees in any capacity, in either a paid or unpaid position.
Isobel initiated and coordinated the Villawood student group over two and a half years. Through this community-organisation, and her work at Playfair assisting clients with their protection visa applications, Isobel is making valuable contributions in assisting asylum seekers in Australia’s troubled refugee protection system. Co-creator of ‘Humans of Detention’, which seeks to humanise asylum seekers in Australia. Isobel documents the lived experiences of life as an asylum seeker through first-hand narratives of asylum seekers in detention providing a brilliant form of knowledge transfer and empathy. The group Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney, which Isobel helps lead, continues to visit Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on a regular basis.
Rural and Regional
Organisations or individuals working in regional areas of NSW to assist refugees.
Kerrie is a long serving Murray High School ESL teacher who is also a parent, a mother figure, advocate, family friend and family member to all her refugee students at the school. When she is not teaching at school, Kerrie is teaching students how to swim, drive or even use basic equipment at home. By providing students with a holistic education, Kerrie goes above and beyond her role as a teacher as a champion of welcome and harmony. Along with her team at Murray High School, Kerrie has run various projects and programs to include students, families and communities.
Schools, universities and other educational institutions, or individuals working at such institutions, who assist former refugees by breaking down barriers to education.
Janene is a long time champion for students of refugee backgrounds within Chifley College, Mount Druitt. In addition to her ongoing work, Janene has championed additional programming to the young women from refugee backgrounds within the school including the Girl SKILS (Smarts, Know-How, Intelligence, Leadership, and Strength). SKILS targets young women 14-16 years old of a refugee background experiencing family or social difficulties or at risk of being engaged by the juvenile justice system. The incredible success of this program and the outstanding achievements of its young participants is the result of the collaborative partnership developed by Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency and young people themselves. Program partners included Creative Training & Coaching, Westpac Banking Corporation, The Westpac Foundation and Chifley College Mount Druitt.
Said Agha Jafari (Sadat Welfare & Sports Association)
Agha is a young person with a passion for empowering young refugees and asylum seekers through sports and other welfare programs. Working full time Agha dedicates his precious time running a not-for-profit organisation to empower young refugees. He dedicates most of his spare time to empower them through sports and other welfare initiatives such a regular visits to the Villawood detention centre. He established a cricket team consisting of young refugees providing them a platform to harness their skills and meet other young people alone the way as they competed in various tournaments. As an advocate for refugees, Agha showcases the skills they bring to their new home.
A young person aged 12-25 of refugee background making an outstanding contribution to Australian society in their chosen field.
Jordan Ablett is a youth ambassador for the multicultural youth affairs network NSW and is involved in facilitating events for migrant and refugee youth, providing support on services and ideas for people from refugee backgrounds in regards to tackling issues such as racism and language barriers. He advocates on social media for refugee youth especially members from the Sudanese Australian community. He is working as a mental health nurse supporting refugees and the broader community.