Refugee Community Worker
A former refugee working on refugee issues with their own or other refugee communities, in either a paid or unpaid position.
Awarded to Mr Bilal Waheed
Executive Director, Massoud Foundation Australia
Since the arrival of evacuees and refugees from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, the Massoud Foundation’s Executive Director in Australia, Bilal Waheed, has provided outstanding service in a number of initiatives assisting Afghan families with an emergency relief response and resettlement needs.
The Massoud Foundation was established and registered as a charitable trust in 2002 in Afghanistan, with the main objective of human development in the field of education and health as well as cultural activities. After 20 years of successful service delivery to the poorest of the poor in Afghanistan, the Foundation has expanded its activities in Australia in response to the humanitarian crisis.
Over several years, Bilal has been involved in community-based services whilst engaging in various forums, consistently advocating for human rights and social justice issues in Afghanistan with a strong focus on girls’ education.
With his passion for philanthropy, Bilal has a determination to grow and develop the Massoud Foundation in support of its key values and objectives, both in Australia and abroad whilst ensuring cultural continuity and awareness.
A member or organisation in the broader Australian community, of any background, supporting and assisting refugees in any capacity, in either a paid or unpaid capacity.
Awarded to the Blue Peony Foundation
The award will be accepted by Ms Zoia Douglas
The Blue Peony Foundation was established to welcome and support Ukrainians who have fled their country following the Russian military invasion in February 2022. Four strangers from diverse cultural backgrounds met on social media and were most fortunate to be given space to operate a donations centre from the Ukrainian Youth Centre in Lidcombe.
The Blue Peony Foundation proudly works with over 30 volunteers and partners with various organisations, charities and entities to assist the displaced people of Ukraine to start a new life in Australia. To date, the foundation has addressed the needs of over 700 displaced people from Ukraine providing clothing, bedding, personal hygiene items, food, technology items, language classes and much more.
Under the leadership of its Director, Zoia Douglas, the foundation has assisted new arrivals in finding employment, accommodation, and most importantly, connected them with the local community in NSW. Through these community events, many friendships and connections have been forged and continue to ease the suffering of many Ukrainians who continue to arrive.
Recently the Blue Peony Foundation embarked on a new project of relocating displaced families from Ukraine to rural and regional areas in Australia. Ms Douglas and her team believe this project will be of great benefit to displaced people from Ukraine. With recognition for outstanding service and leadership in the category of Refugee Supporter, the Blue Peony Foundation continues to ensure Ukrainian refugees are welcomed and settled safely and with dignity.
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.
Awarded to Afghanistan Crisis Response Clinic
Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS)
The Award will be accepted by Mr Ben Lumsdaine (Apologies Sarah Dale)
RACS has provided essential legal services and to people seeking asylum, refugees, the stateless and displaced, ensuring culturally linguistically diverse communities receive crucial help navigating the overwhelmingly complex process of immigration related issues. In the last 12 months RACS has helped 4,255 people from 103 countries including Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.
In spite of the impact of COVID-19, RACS rose to the significant legal challenges to support the many people hat evacuated and those left behind following the fall of Kabul through its dedicated Afghanistan Crisis Response Clinic. Throughout this humanitarian crisis, RACS continued to support the many nationals of Afghanistan to navigate the Fast Track, Protection, Family Reunion and Citizenship processes.
With the invasion of Ukraine in February, RACS readily responded to calls for assistance from Ukrainians in Australia looking to find safety for themselves and families who remain overseas. RACS assisted 171 people from refugee backgrounds separated from family hoping to reunite in Australia through its Family Reunion program and assisted 254 people to re-apply for a subsequent visa before expiration through its Legal Help For Refugees Clinic program.
RACS is a strong, independent public voice for the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum and public advocacy with a dedicated team of generous volunteers.
Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) and Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).
The award was accepted by Ms Tamana Mirzada, (Apologies Maeve Brown)
In 2021 and early 2022, the Jesuit Refugee Service Australia (JRS) partnered with Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) to run a series of COVID-19 outreach vaccination clinics focusing on people seeking asylum and other temporary migrants in vulnerable situations. Supported by a team of volunteers, the implementation of outreach vaccination clinics ensured that people seeking asylum and other temporary visa holders could access vaccines regardless of visa status. JRS and WSLHD were able to run clinics in a safe and familiar place, with the use of interpreters, thus facilitating access to vaccines for people who would have struggled to access mainstream hubs or even a GP.
JRS and WSLHD were able to run three sets of first and second dose clinics with a further series of booster clinics. Overall 330 people received vaccinations that would otherwise have experienced barriers to access or may have been concerned about capacity access. The clinics were also supported by a team of JRS volunteers, the Diocese of Parramatta through the use of St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, and the City of Parramatta Council who provided staff to assist with COVID check-ins and registration during the strictest stay-at-home period.
The project complemented the Jesuit Refugee Service’s range of services and supports for people seeking asylum and other temporary visa holders, including casework support, emergency relief, employment support, community education and social activities.
Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is a leader in clinical services, research and education providing a diverse range of public healthcare to more than 946,000 residents in Sydney’s west as well as services to those outside the catchment from specialty statewide centres of expertise.
A young person aged 12-25 of refugee background making an outstanding contribution to Australian society in their chosen field
Awarded to Ms Nargis Karimi
Nargis Karimi has a lived refugee experience and is currently a Youth Coordinator of the Australian Afghan Hassanian Youth Association, (AAHYA), a non-profit organisation established in 2006 to support Asylum Seekers and Refugees with their settlement journeys in Australia. The AAHYA runs numerous different programs that aim to empower community members to become active members of Australian society through a strong commitment to family, education and to the country they live in.
During the extraordinarily challenging times of the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Ms Karimi assisted with initiating a unique care package distribution designed to help migrants, refugees, the vulnerable and elderly. This proved to be a most effective initiative, supporting over 500 migrant refugees and asylum seekers, and more than 250 vulnerable Australians who were deeply affected by the global pandemic. The generosity of volunteers in organising, preparing and providing the care packages are reflective of her commitment to charity and compassion, which are guiding values for the services provided by AAHYA.
Nargis is one of the most active volunteers in her high school and is in charge of coordinating youth programs after school hours. In 2021 Nargis ‘s dedication and commitment to her community were acknowledged with a Young Citizen of the year award.
An award for the use of social media in the promotion of the interests of refugees
Awarded to Ms Maryam Popal Zahid
Afghan Women on the Move
Maryam is the founder and Director of Afghan Women on the Move Incorporated (AWOTM). AWOTM creates a safe platform for women as survivors of war and trauma, to gather and participate in arts and cultural programs, outside of religious and political influences. Maryam’s work focuses on gender equality, women`s rights and the displacement of the Afghan diaspora with a focus on those from minority backgrounds. In particular, Maryam has made skillful and innovative use of social media to promote the status of Afghan women in Australia and overseas and has been able to draw attention to issues of the rights of Afghan women and the impact of domestic and family violence.
Maryam came to Australia as a refugee in 1999 at the age 20. After completing her HSC, she pursued her further studies in the field of Social Work and Community Services, driven by a passion to help the wider community. Maryam is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts in Community Development majoring in security and counter terrorism and is employed as a Domestic Violence Prevention Project officer for SydWest Multicultural Services, working with newly arrived refugees and migrants in Western Sydney.
The podcast and website seamlessly integrate first-person human experience with expert legal explanation.
Schools, universities and other educational institutions, or individuals working at such institutions, who assist former refugees by breaking down barriers to education.
Awarded to Ms Kylie Adams, Holroyd High School
Holroyd High School has a large Afghan student community who have been deeply impacted by recent events in Afghanistan. During the stay at home orders in 2021, the growing crisis in Afghanistan deeply impacted the whole school community at Holroyd High School.
In the midst of COVID-19 and stay-at-home rules Principal of Holroyd High School, Kylie Adams, played a crucial role as part of a team who ensured students impacted by the crisis in Afghanistan were checked in on and assisted with crucial mental health and wellbeing support. A team supporting students impacted by the crisis included school counsellors, bilingual SLSOs and additional wellbeing support staff. At the height of the Afghan humanitarian crisis and evacuation, Ms Adams organised for delivery of weekly hampers to members of the community with wrap around support during a time of uncertainty and disconnection.
Throughout her career Ms Adams has taught extensively in schools across greater Western Sydney. Kylie brings a deep understanding of issues related to students from culturally and linguistically diverse and refugee backgrounds with dedication to inclusive education. She is deeply passionate about equity issues in schools. Kylie believes it is important to ensure that the challenges of small, complex and specialised schools are also recognised whilst actively advocating on behalf of Intensive English Centres (IECs) to ensure staff shortages, student to teacher ratios and increasing workloads are addressed.
Rural and Regional
Organisations or individuals working in regional areas of NSW to assist refugees.
Awarded to Armidale Sanctuary Settlement Support
The award will be accepted by Mr Jeff Siegel
Armidale Sanctuary have been supporting refugees since 2003. Between 2003 – 2009 the group sponsored people for settlement, fundraising for visa and fares. New arrivals were met at the airport and supported with all their settlement needs.
Armidale Sanctuary was instrumental in the city of Armidale becoming a refugee settlement city. This allowed for the resettlement of more than 600 refugees from the Ezidi community. The Armidale Sanctuary has over one hundred volunteers participating in several programs supporting families, children and adults to overcome settlement difficulties. The group has been working tirelessly and are responsive to refugee needs, leading initiatives like the home reading program to alleviate educational disadvantage by providing children with language and homework support to succeed in school. The group continue to respond to needs of young learners whilst also undertaking fundraising activities, most recently raising funds to help a refugee who was indefinitely detained on Nauru island settle in Canada.
The President of the Armidale Sanctuary, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at UNE, Jeff Siegel has worked for many years for the freedom, safety and successful settlement of refugees with humility as recognized by his colleagues, whilst providing consistent support to the contracted agencies.
Awarded to an organization or individual for outstanding efforts in promoting sporting endeavours among people from refugee backgrounds.
Awarded to the Tibetan Unity Cup
To be accepted by Mr Tamdin Tsering
The Tibetan Unity Cup is an annual sporting and cultural festival that brings together people from Tibetan refugee backgrounds mainly resident in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. The Cup provides an opportunity for young people from these areas to come together to play sport, build social cohesion, community links and reduce social isolation. The Unity Cup is now recognised as the premier sporting event in Australia for Tibetan people.
Now in its 10th year, the cup brings together more 100 young people to participate in sporting and cultural activities and has made a positive impact to both the physical and mental wellbeing of young Tibetan refugees in exile and their community.
In particular, Tamdin Tsering has been instrumental in the recent success of the Tibetan Unity Cup as he has worked together with members of the community to make the event possible. As a result of the success of the Unity Cup, Tamdin Tsering is presently coordinating a fundraising campaign to send the first Tibetan Australian soccer team to participate in the prestigious Gyalyum Chenmo Cup in India in 2023.
The award for sport made to the Tibetan Unity Cup and accepted by Tamdin Tsering.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Awarded to an individual demonstrating extraordinary commitment to supporting refugees over their lifetime
Presented to Mr Ernie Friedlander OAM
Ernie Friedlander OAM is a Holocaust survivor who has worked tirelessly over many years to give back to society and make an exceptional contribution in so many facets of life after surviving World War II. Notably in 2004, Ernie established Moving Forward Together (MFT), whose aim is to build bridges between multicultural communities, emphasising the value of harmony. Four of MFT’s core programs employ different techniques to engage school and university aged individuals with the aim to change attitudes towards refugees and immigrants.
The MFT’s ‘Stop Racism Now’ campaign pilot in 2021 reached over 1.4 million people with over 40,000 actively engaging with the program. Similarly, the now famous Harmony Walks, experiential communal gatherings run annually in conjunction with Local Councils and community and refugee groups, have attracted thousands of participants in the spirit of unity. A schools Poster and Song Writing Competition developed by Mr Friedlander is one of the largest and most successful school-based programs in the country.
Through these initiatives, Ernie Friedlander as President of MFT has devoted his life in Australia to building a harmonious society where prejudice has no place. In 2007, Ernie received the Order of Australia (OAM) for his contributions to Australian society. A recent Australian Prime Minster rightly remarked, Mr Ernie Friedlander “is a blessing to this nation.”
In later years Ernie has continued to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to inclusion of all peoples from diverse backgrounds including refugees. As the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a significant increase racists incidents directed toward some culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, Moving Forward Together launched an on-line program in conjunction with Western Sydney University. A sophisticated ‘microtargeted’ social media campaign was the result, aimed at providing tools for individuals to be turned from ‘bystanders’ to ‘upstanders’ when witnessing racist incidents.
Moving Forward Together (MFT) is a volunteer-based organisation, depending on the skills and time of many professionals. Given the work of so many, it is difficult to single out any specific individuals for recognition, yet on this occasion, the jury determined that one of the key creators and drivers of anti-racism and community cohesion initiatives in the state should be honoured with a lifetime achievement award for his support of people from refugee backgrounds.