Western Australian Multicultural Awards winners

15 people standing on a stage smiling and holding glass trophies. Six are men and nine are women.  They are in front of a screen that says Multicultural Awards

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.






WA Multicultural Awards 2022 Winners

Western Australian Multicultural Awards 2022

Outstanding Individual Achievement Award — Dr Bernadette Wright

Dr Wright is a Clinical Psychologist who has specialised in providing transcultural mental health services in WA for more than 20 years.

She has worked to advocate and remove barriers experienced by CaLD communities, specifically in the area of mental health, and has made significant contributions through her involvement in the sector at all levels.

Bernadette is currently the Deputy Chairperson of Helping Minds and is on the board of Kin Advocacy and the Advisory Board of Affirm Care. She continues to serve clients, communities, mental health professionals and organisations within the multicultural mental health sector while also providing consultation and advice to government and community groups.

Youth Award — Zahra Al Hilaly

With a migrant and refugee background from Palestine and Iraq, Zahra is a 21-year-old law and journalism student who is a local, national and international advocate for gender equality and equitable representation within leadership and refugee settlement.

Zahra has served twice as the State Youth Ambassador for WA and is currently the WA Ambassador to the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network of Australia.

Zahra has facilitated and developed conferences, worked with federal enquiries, written articles for magazines and journals, spoken at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and represented Australian youth at several international conferences. 

Community Organisation Award — CaLD — Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services

Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services is a multi-award-winning not-for-profit organisation that has provided community home care services for seniors from CaLD communities for more than two decades. Established in 2000, Umbrella today has clients and carers from more than 65 countries.

A fundamental principle of Umbrella’s service delivery is for clients to be matched with support workers and volunteers who speak their language and share their culture.

The innovation and quality of Umbrella’s services to CaLD seniors has been recognised through several awards.

During the past 22 years, Umbrella has employed hundreds of people, predominantly from migrant backgrounds, providing new career opportunities in Australia. Umbrella’s Board of Management also includes individuals from seven different cultural groups.

Umbrella has risen above the COVID-19 crisis to provide high quality culturally appropriate care and contribute meaningfully to the sector.

Community Organisation Award — General — Royal Life Saving WA

CaLD communities are drastically over-represented in drowning statistics. Tragically, 40 per cent of drownings recorded in WA involve people who were born overseas. Research undertaken by Royal Life Saving WA found that swimming and water safety education was often overlooked by new migrants due to barriers such as cost, access and availability, and, for many migrant women, issues of cultural modesty.

Royal Life Saving WA’s Multicultural Steering Committee brings together leaders and ambassadors from a range of WA’s multicultural communities and has ensured that their swimming and water safety programs meet the needs and cultural requirements of these community members.

The Royal Life Saving WA runs gender-specific swimming classes, and after-school swim classes. They also provide online and in-person cultural awareness training, and culturally inclusive swim instructor guides and swim lesson plans. The Royal Life Saving WA is not only saving lives but is also ensuring people from CaLD backgrounds are actively involved and consulted in programs that keep them safe. Their Swim and Survive Access and Equity Program is also encouraging CaLD community members to learn to swim—an important life skill in WA and a good way to keep healthy.

Local Government Award — City of Stirling

The City of Stirling has long been committed to supporting and empowering its CaLD community. With the largest number of CaLD residents of any local government in WA, the city has worked consistently over many years to promote multiculturalism and social inclusion, and to ensure that CaLD residents have access to appropriate services that support their full community participation.

This engagement has included extensive consultation with CaLD stakeholders, the development of a Multicultural Framework, establishing the Stirling Multicultural Advisory Network, the development of the Kaleidoscope Initiative, and operating as lead agency in the establishment of Naala Djookan Healing Centre for women and children experiencing, or at risk of, family and domestic violence.

The city employs dedicated staff to support implementation of the Multicultural Framework and facilitate meaningful ongoing engagement with CaLD communities. It has developed a comprehensive Newcomer’s Guide for new migrants that contains valuable information about the city and local services. 

Arts Award — Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa

Within a two-year period, Sukhjit performed at the Opera House for the Australian Poetry Slam Competition then went on to make headlines on Australian’s Got Talent with an abridged version of her poem ‘To Advance Australia Fair’, something one of the judges described as ‘nation building’ for confronting racism.

Recognised as one of Australia’s most talented and celebrated spoken word artists, her performances and workshops have led her to tour Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and South-East Asia.

Sukhjit also wrote and performed ‘Fully Sikh’, a Barking Gecko and Black Swan State Theatre Company co-production, that tells her story as a young Sikh girl growing up in the Perth suburbs.

Acknowledging that people of colour are leaders and storytellers, she uses community-building strategies and art to discuss power, identity, privilege, race and class to create meaningful bonds between people.

Her work is bringing the wider community into the struggles and aspirations of migrant communities and increasing mutual understanding.

Sportsperson of the Year Award — Peter Bol

Peter was ranked nineteenth in the men’s 800m going into the Tokyo Olympics. His grit and determination landed him an amazing fourth place—the highest place by an Australian male in an individual track event in 33 years. A result only bettered by Olympic champions and pioneers Edwin Flack in 1896 and Ralph Doubell in 1968.

Watched by more than 2.6 million Australians, Peter was the epitome of grace under pressure and, since that time, he has used his profile working with a range of communities to inspire children and young people to get involved in sport. This has included visits to schools and Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley and Mid-West, as well as promoting the WA Government’s Kidsport initiative and 10-year anniversary.

He embodies the very essence of good sportsmanship and is a fitting recipient of the inaugural Sportsperson on the Year Award. 

Premier's Community Response and Recovery Award — Sikh Gurdwara Perth

Sikh Gurdwara Perth was formed in 1996 to meet the needs of the growing Sikh community.

In April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they started a Free Meal project for people in need that is currently donating 1,000 meals every week. As of February 2022, they had served more than 75,000 freshly cooked hot meals through 15 not-for-profit organisations.

In 2021, during the Wooroloo bushfires, Sikh Gurdwara Perth opened their doors in the middle of the night to accommodate 50 families who had been evacuated from Ellenbrook and surrounds. They also provided free hot meals to other evacuation centres and State emergency volunteers and donated to the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund.

The organisation has also demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting Western Australians in crisis, whether through raising funds for victims of floods and other natural disasters, blood donation drives, or assisting in the accommodation of overseas students. 

Sir Ronald Wilson Leadership Award — Hayden Marchetto

Hayden has displayed outstanding leadership and commitment to promoting accessibility and the benefits of cultural diversity. Through years of volunteer and paid work in the sporting arena, most significantly in football and surf lifesaving, he has had a marked impact on those struggling for equity of access.

Hayden has developed programs that provide people who have intellectual disabilities with the same benefits of participation in community sport as everyone else. He has worked to ensure that disability is not a barrier for anyone wishing to be part of a club or sporting association.

It is now well known that sport forms a dominant part of identity in Australia. Sport creates a connection to community and supports better mental health. Welcoming players into a sport represents a lifelong investment. Hayden’s work recognises this and actively removes some of the barriers that can face people from diverse backgrounds.

Hayden’s outstanding career, his role as an advocate and his extensive voluntary work have had a significant impact on the disability sector.

Laksiri Jayasuriya Lifetime Community Service Award — Nick Agocs OAM

The late Nick Agocs performed more than 45 years of voluntary service in several community organisations and not-for-profit organisations at State and federal levels. 

In his more than 40 years as a leader in the multicultural sector, Nick’s involvement from a peak body perspective within the multicultural sector is unrivalled.

He was the longest serving Western Australian in the management committee of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia.

He also contributed significantly to federal, State and local policy for migrant communities.

Nick had substantial input into the development of the WA Charter of Multiculturalism, and several governments appointed him to serve on taskforces, committees and mechanisms, including as a Commissioner on the Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission of WA.

He played an important role in facilitating the establishment of the Coalition of Multicultural Interests, which brought together several key ethno-specific and multicultural service providers to work jointly on policy and service delivery matters.

Nick’s commitment to the sector was unwavering and had a significant impact at both a local and legislative level. 

OMI Multicultural Award winners 2021

Western Australian Multicultural Awards 2021

Congratulations to the winners of the Western Australian Multicultural Awards 2021.

Local Government Award — Shire of Katanning

The 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.

Multicultural Youth Award — Asung Rathin

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.

Business Award — illuminance Solutions

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 Services

As 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.

Judges' Choice Award — Salem Askari

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.

Outstanding Individual Achievement Award — Dr Abdullah Khan

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.

Minister's Award for Distinguished Service — Russell Raymond OAM

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.

Minister's Award for Distinguished Service — Olga Ramasamy OAM

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 OAM

Ramdas 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.

Page reviewed 15 March 2023