Western Australian Multicultural Awards 2023
Sir Ronald Wilson Leadership Award—Asha Bhat OAM
Asha Bhat has been the CEO of the Southern Aboriginal Corporation (SAC) since 2013. In her role, Mrs Bhat ensures that critical services are provided seamlessly to some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities.
Mrs Bhat also volunteers on several committees, including the Great Southern Aboriginal Health Forum, Great Southern Homelessness Forum, and Community Legal WA. She seeks solutions to inequality with the aim that every single person has access to the same opportunities and freedom through social justice.
A key industry change that Mrs Bhat is working towards is building the capability and capacity of Aboriginal Community Control Organisations to deliver services direct to Aboriginal people. This change would significantly contribute to the national ‘close the gap’ agenda with Aboriginal-led solutions at a local level.
The judges were impressed by Mrs Bhat’s ability to provide insightful leadership and strong advocacy, while at the same time empowering Aboriginal communities and ensuring dignity in service delivery.
Sir Ronald Wilson Leadership Award—Danny McEvoy
Danny McEvoy has been actively involved as a volunteer—supporting children and families in WA from marginalised and CaLD groups—for more than thirteen years. He is the founder and President of the Achievers Club WA, a charity which provides free one-on-one educational support.
This is done through weekly out-of-school mentoring and tuition and is designed for children who are experiencing learning or adjustment difficulties, and who come from refugee and lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Following his retirement in 2010 Mr McEvoy began volunteering with the Smith Family. He was introduced to ASeTTS in 2011 and in 2012 developed an informal ‘Homework Club’, which began operating out of the Mirrabooka office on Saturday mornings.
Now known as Achievers Club WA, it works to compliment teachers, collaboratively identifying support needs and linking students with an appropriate mentor. Mr McEvoy has brought together numerous volunteers to support and mentor children over the past ten years - and the number keeps growing.
A new chapter of the Club was established in Armadale in 2019 and planning is underway for a third chapter to be opened in Butler in 2023. Helping children exceed their expectations, the Club has provided pathways for students into university and vocational training.
The judges noted that without the dedication and leadership of Mr McEvoy many children would not have reached their potential. The work that he has done has been achieved at a time when many would be looking to slow down.
Not only has he inspired other Western Australians to follow his example, but his voluntary efforts today will positively impact lives into the future.
Laksiri Jayasuriya Lifetime Community Service Award—Mr Enzo Sirna AM
Enzo Sirna has demonstrated exceptional leadership in advancing social justice, human rights, multiculturalism, equality and antiracism in Western Australia for more than 35 years.
Mr Sirna has served on many boards and committees and recently completed a full term as Chair of the Australian Alzheimer's Research Foundation. Some of the roles he currently holds include:
- President of Community Languages WA
- Deputy Chair of the Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Association
- National Coordinator of Italian Educational, Welfare and Cultural State Organisations in Australia; and
- Co-Chair, Ministerial Multicultural Advisory Council.
He is the President of the Italo-Australian Welfare & Cultural Centre (IAWCC). His 37 years of leadership has had a profound impact on the growth of the Centre, which now provides education, aged care, welfare and bilingual childcare services.
As a former educator, he is committed to education and, as such, has overseen the evolution of Community Languages WA to play a more significant role in its representation of community language schools. This included initiating the Outstanding Community Languages Teacher of the Year Award.
The judges noted that Mr Sirna has had an extensive and significant impact across many aspects of multiculturalism in Western Australia.
Mr Sirna’s work, largely in a voluntary capacity, not only demonstrates his dedication to the welfare of Italian Western Australians but also shows a deep commitment to improving services for all CaLD communities.
Minister's Award for Distinguished Service—Constance (Connie) and Keith Allmark
Connie and Keith Allmark were champions of local communities and humanitarian causes.
On the international stage, they were tireless campaigners for freedom and human rights for the persecuted minorities of Myanmar.
Upon arriving in Western Australia in the 1960s, they dedicated their lives to supporting the local Burmese community, establishing the Burmese Association of WA, and providing care and assistance to those who arrived in Australia as refugees and migrants.
They were active in many government, community and welfare groups including the Tribal Refugee Welfare Association of WA, the Burmese National League for Democracy in WA, and the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre.
The Allmarks were true humanitarians—committed to alleviating suffering and determined to help those in need.
Minister's Award for Distinguished Service— Salim Youssef
Mr Salim Youssef dedicated his life to building community—both locally and across Arabic speaking communities—and creating opportunities for young people, seniors and new migrants to achieve their goals. He was know for pioneering unique grassroots community-led projects, often in partnership with other communities and State and local governments.
He was the Founder of the Australian Arab Association, a member of the Ministerial Multicultural Advisory Council, and a respected community leader and valued advisor.
Mr Youssef came to Australia in 1991, fleeing the war in Lebanon. He arrived in Perth in 1998 where he immediately began to work with, and for, the community, sitting on several Boards and Committees and becoming the first Muslim President of a Rotary Club in WA.
Through his extensive community work, Mr Youssef received the Community Citizen of the Year Awards from the City of Gosnells in 2016 and the WA Multicultural Individual Excellence Award in 2013. He was appointed a People of Australia Ambassador in 2012 and 2014.
Salim Youssef was committed to a multicultural society. He recognised the importance of diverse voices and empowering the community, and he always led by example.
Community Organisation Award - CaLD— The Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees – CARAD
Since CARAD’s establishment in 2000, essential services have been provided to refugees, detainees and people seeking asylum who are ineligible for any other support.
A long-running, successful volunteer program run by CARAD - Opening Doors - connects highly trained volunteers with people seeking asylum and refugees that need specific and intense assistance in navigating Australian life.
Opening Doors assists with English lessons, school and university tutoring, job mentoring, engaging with government agencies, navigating public transport and other practical needs.
Opening Doors is unique in that the services are provided by highly trained community volunteers, giving of their time and expertise to support a vulnerable and potentially isolated sector of the WA community.
The judges were impressed by CARAD’s programs, in particular noting they are volunteer run, and that they are servicing an area of the community which is not looked after by funded services.
Community Organisation Award - General— Auspire - Australia Day Council WA
Over the last five years, Auspire has strategically and deliberately focused on driving engagement with CaLD communities to co-design their programs and make the Australian of the Year Awards more accessible to people from CaLD backgrounds.
Auspire has demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion by diversifying its board and its Australia Day Ambassador Network to include representatives from the CaLD community
To encourage participation, Auspire has reviewed its systems, data collection and promotions strategies to improve and measure representation in its programs.
In 2022, Auspire launched its highly regarded Multicultural Leadership Program, to further recognise and develop capacity in leaders from CaLD communities.
The judges said Auspire has demonstrated a sincere desire to improve their services and ensure CaLD Western Australians are represented and recognised for their contributions to Australia.
They have demonstrated a strong commitment to building their leadership, cultural competency, engagement, consultation, and partnership.
Public Sector Award— Department of Health – Cancer Network
The Department of Health – Cancer Network provides strategic direction, policy, advice and guidance on cancer control and cancer research in Western Australia.
The Cancer Network undertook a six-month project to better understand the cancer information needs of people from CaLD backgrounds. The project is a fundamental component of the WA Cancer Plan 2020-2025, which aims to provide outcomes that result in reliable cancer information to consumers.
The Cancer Network aligned the project development and implementation to two policy priorities of the WA Department of Health Multicultural Plan 2021-2023. The Cancer Network has demonstrated commitment to applying best practice in policy development by investing in extensive and meaningful consultation with CaLD communities.
The judges noted that the approach undertaken will help ensure that the advice and strategic direction provided by the Network will reflect the needs of Western Australia’s multicultural society and ensure policy development and service delivery are equitable, representative and accessible.
The judges also agreed that the community-led and best practice approach undertaken by the Cancer Network establishes a blueprint for public sector agencies to build on.
Local Government Award— City of Canning
The City of Canning has demonstrated its commitment to its local CaLD communities through the development of WA’s first intercultural centre, the Hillview Intercultural Community Centre, which opened in February 2022.
With more than 50 per cent of City of Canning residents born overseas, and nearly 40 per cent of them speaking a language other than English at home, the Centre was established in support of the City’s vision of a welcoming and thriving community.
In the past 12 months, the Centre has established itself as a vibrant hub with a diverse array of activities. In October 2022, the Hillview Intercultural Community Centre was declared winner of the 2022 National Local Government Award for Cohesive Communities.
This recognised the City for driving a more inclusive approach to the design of policies, programs and partnerships and celebrating the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of its community.
To date more than 100 community groups have benefited from funding, space or mentorship offered by City and individuals have gained employment, social inclusion, economic empowerment, and health and well-being support. Arts Award
The judges acknowledged the longstanding and embedded commitment to the CaLD communities of Canning.
The judges agreed that the Hillview Intercultural Community Centre is a great example of a local government investing in the wellbeing, inclusion, and prosperity of its community.
Arts Award— Mararo Wangai
Kenyan-Australian Mararo Wangai is the lead performer and writer of Black Brass, a theatre production showcasing a nuanced African narrative, which draws inspiration from interviews conducted with Perth’s African communities about resilience.
Blending original songs and stories into an immersive and authentic theatrical experience, Black Brass brings traditional African storytelling techniques onto the Australian stage in a work that is daring and important.
In response to discourse around representation, opportunity and freedom, Black Brass gives voice to the marginalized. The work premiered at the Perth Festival in 2021 and Mr Wangai will represent Black Brass at the Pan African Creative Exchange arts market held in South Africa later this year.
Mr Wangai is a committed and passionate voice on behalf of under-represented and culturally diverse communities within the performing arts industry.
The judges noted that Black Brass provides a platform for CaLD voices to be heard and provokes thought regarding displacement, healing, and how to challenge mainstream expectations of refugees.
Sportsperson of the Year Award — Sunday Aryang
Born in Ethiopia, Sunday Aryang migrated to Australia at the age of one.
She began her netball journey at Illusions Netball Club before becoming a West Coast Fever Training Partner and making her Super Netball debut in 2019. She was added to West Coast Fever’s Extended Squad in 2020 and has since played 46 matches.
Ms Aryang became the first African-born player to represent the Australian Diamonds when she made her international debut in the 2022 Quad Series. She was also an integral member of West Coast Fever’s maiden premiership when they defeated Melbourne Vixens in front of a sell-out crowd at RAC Arena.
To cap off an amazing year, Sunday was also part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games team, that won Gold in Birmingham.
The judges noted that Ms Aryang has a strong Western Australian profile, which has served as an inspiration to others, and has demonstrated outstanding commitment and focus necessary to excel and break down barriers in this competitive sport.
Ms Aryang has lifted the profile of netball in Western Australia and is a local talent who has worked her way to the pinnacle of her sport.
Youth Award — Lueth Dengdit
Lueth Dengdit arrived in Australia in 2013, age 16, after fleeing war-torn Sudan as a refugee.
Since arriving in Australia, Mr Dengdit has become a community leader and youth mentor.
He is the Youth Programs Coordinator at the Edmund Rice Centre WA; coordinator of the Common Goal Soccer Academy; a mentor to emerging coaches and umpires; and a member of the Mirrabooka Police District Youth Advisory Group.
Mr Dengdit also serves as the President and Chairman of Twic East Youth WA community group.
He is accredited to deliver coaching and officiating courses and has accredited more than 100 coaches and 60 officials.
He has built cultural bridges through his coaching of an Aboriginal soccer team and the Edmund Rice AFL Programs. Mr Dengdit has also mentored and supported more than 1,000 people.
Since 2018, he has overseen the rapid growth of the Common Goal Soccer Academy including coordinating the Refugee Week tournament in partnership with the City of Stirling.
The judges said Mr Dengdit showed exceptionally strong leadership working with a wide range of young people - delivering accessible programs and creating sustainable outcomes for individuals and the community.
Outstanding Individual Achievement Award — Surya Ambati
Over the past 12 years, Surya Ambati has actively served the Indian community in Western Australia through his work with Telugu community associations, as past President of the Indian Society of WA (ISWA) and as a member of the Ministerial Multicultural Advisory Council.
During his tenure as President of ISWA, Mr Ambati led the development and implementation of the new ISWA constitution and established the ISWA Council.
These significant changes created greater levels of representation and agency for Western Australia’s many Indian associations and ensured that ISWA continued to be a successful peak body for all Indian communities.
He also played a critical role in driving the development of the multi-million-dollar Indian Community Centre in Willetton, which has become a vital hub for the community.
Mr Ambati has been an instrumental in responding to humanitarian and social causes - mobilising the community and working with partners such as Multicultural Services Centre of WA, Ishar and the WA Women’s Health and Family Services.
Mr Ambati has been a key community leader contributing to the development of government policies and services; and progressing local initiatives within the Indian community.
The judges noted Mr Ambati’s exceptional leadership qualities, dedication to the improvement of services, and the empowerment of Western Australia’s Indian communities.
Premier’s Community Response and Recovery Award — The Organisation of African Communities in WA
The Organisation of African Communities in WA (OACWA) was founded in 2012 to support the expanding African and Afro-Caribbean immigrant population in WA.
During the COVID pandemic, the organisation worked across government, non-government, and community sectors to deliver pandemic relief services and a culturally appropriate vaccination awareness program for Western Australians of African backgrounds. More than 70,000 people were reached through that work.
The judges noted the number of different languages and cultural communities serviced required a significant and complex effort by this volunteer community association.
The judges also noted that their support to promote government messaging and keep the community safe during the pandemic ensuring vulnerable communities did not fall through the cracks.