The Western Australian Multicultural Awards provide an opportunity for us to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of Western Australians who have accomplished outstanding work in advancing multiculturalism.
Congratulations to the winners of the Western Australian Multicultural Awards 2021.
Local Government Award — the Shire of KatanningThe Shire of Katanning has shown a fundamental and sustained commitment to inclusivity and participation, which has been recognised at the national level. The shire undertook extensive consultation for its Strategic Community Plan in 2017 and, based on feedback, established a Cultural Collaboration Officer in 2019. The officer works on projects and initiatives that enhance services for, and engagement with, the CaLD community. Additionally, Katanning has worked to support its community during challenging times, demonstrating an empathic approach to bringing the community together. The shire also hosts the highly popular annual Katanning Harmony Festival in partnership with the community. This festival has become one of the most popular in the South West and celebrates the cultural diversity of the area.
Asung is passionate about helping young people from CaLD backgrounds achieve academic success and feel at home in the community.
Asung undertakes extensive volunteer work at a number of organisations and co-leads the WA Chin University Student Organisation homework club, which provides opportunities for children to receive free tutoring and homework assistance. She studies midwifery and volunteers her time to assist young Burmese women during pregnancy and after birth.
Having demonstrated a remarkable commitment to her community, Asung is working to resolve practical issues facing young people from CaLD backgrounds.
Communications Award — West Australasian Media Network
West Australasian Media Network is an independently owned and managed news and media company that reports news with a focus on local youth matters, cultural diversity and related issues. The network creates videography and mini-documentary projects. It also provides opportunities for talented young people by offering practical, hands-on journalism work experience.
West Australasian Media Network has been on the front foot of reporting many local and national issues, most recently that of racism faced by the WA Chinese communities as a result of misinformation regarding the pandemic. West Australasian Media Network owner and news editor Ivan Leung is committed to providing an independent and credible alternative news source for Western Australians.
illuminance Solutions is leading the way in creating a workplace that thrives on its cultural diversity and ensures a space for people of all backgrounds to progress in their careers. Driven by the leadership styles of Karmic Management and Servant Leadership, illuminance Solutions has built a community-like approach to active collaboration within the team, with their clients and with other stakeholders. illuminance Solutions ‘lead by example’, and their ethos resonates beyond the office and into the community, providing opportunities for people from CaLD backgrounds to flourish professionally.
Community Organisation Award — MercyCare
MercyCare started more than 170 years ago with the vision of creating a better, more equal, caring and compassionate outlook for all Western Australians. The organisation has shown leadership in supporting cultural diversity through programs designed to foster discussion, improve employment opportunities, remove barriers and develop capacity. MercyCare is a strong advocate for equality for asylum seekers and refugees and has driven a range of programs that have been significant in creating a more inclusive community. The organisation is committed to further embedding the diversity principles outlined in its 2020–2030 strategy. It boasts a culturally diverse workforce that reflects the community in which it operates.
CaLD Community Organisation — Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health ServicesAs the only women’s health centre specifically addressing the needs of women from CaLD backgrounds, Ishar assists approximately 1800 women each year.
For 28 years, Ishar has demonstrated leadership in the sector by developing innovative programs that respond to the unique needs of the multicultural community. Ishar operates from the position that women are the centre of the family and, if women are empowered, this has a positive systemic effect on the family and community.
Salem Askari arrived in WA in 2013 as a refugee from Afghanistan. Since arriving he has been a passionate advocate for refugees and people seeking asylum in WA, taking every opportunity to speak at public events, meet with government officials and raise awareness in agencies and community groups. Salem plays a leadership role in an advocacy network that works to secure greater access and supports for asylum seekers and people holding temporary visas in WA. For example, he has been instrumental in the introduction of concession fares for asylum seekers. His role includes ensuring others with similar experiences can participate in the decision-making process.
Abdullah has spent many years working with government and the private and community sectors to improve employment and education opportunities for CaLD community members by removing barriers and fostering engagement and understanding.
Over the past two decades, as a prominent leader, Abdullah has also worked to combat Islamophobia and eliminate hate-related crimes against Muslims. His work has made a significant and sustained impact on CaLD communities in WA from grassroots to State policy level. Abdullah currently also serves on Minister Papalia’s Ministerial Multicultural Advisory Council.
Abdullah’s commitment to WA’s CaLD communities, and the breadth and depth of his work, make him an outstanding recipient of this award.
Russell was a pioneer of multicultural services in Perth. Born in Sri Lanka, he was a role model for many migrants and refugees through his immense contributions in promoting community harmony and social cohesion, as well as his advocacy on many social issues of concern to all Australians.
He was known for his selfless commitment to improving the lives of others, for example through his work as President of the Ethnic Communities Council of WA and the Deputy Chairperson representing WA on the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia. Russell also served as the Chair of Multicultural Services Centre WA and on the boards of many organisations, including the Australia Day Council, AdvoCare, the WA Sri Lankan Association, Umbrella Community Services and the OZ Concert committee. Russell passed away in August 2019.
Olga’s service to the community began when she migrated from Sri Lanka and took her first job here as Secretary of what is now Girl Guides Australia. She was best known for her work as Chief Executive Officer with the Australian Asian Association of WA, an association that she helped set up in 1956 and which assists countless migrants to settle successfully in WA.
Olga’s commitment to sharing her knowledge, foresight and extraordinary energy with the CaLD and wider communities over many decades brought strength and resilience to all who worked with her or knew her. She was a trusted and reliable advocate for WA’s CaLD communities and was a strong voice on critical issues such as aged care and women’s services. Olga passed away in April 2020.
Laksiri Jayasuriya Lifetime Community Service Award — Ramdas Sankaran OAMRamdas is a strong advocate for Multiculturalism and has been a significant figure in the community sector for decades. His work in the multicultural sector began in 1978 with the Perth Asian Community Centre. He started work with the Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia in 1980 and has served six terms as President since 1995. During this time, Ramdas has been active across a number of issues including women in leadership, refugee and asylum seeker needs, Aboriginal reconciliation, disability advocacy, and mental health within CaLD communities.
In his role as President of the Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia, Ramdas successfully advocated for the 21 March, the International Day for the elimination of racial discrimination, to be reserved as a day of reflection and commemoration, leading to the Western Australian State Government changing Harmony Day to Harmony Week—a change that was also adopted federally in 2019.
Ramdas has demonstrated continued and sustained leadership over an extensive period; has been a forceful advocate of the WA Charter of Multiculturalism, Substantive Equality and Anti-Racism Strategy at a State level, and a social policy entrepreneur.