Vietnamese refugee receives top Harmony Day honours, 10 others honoured

A refugee who pioneered working with the Vietnamese refugee community has received top honours on Wednesday March 21 at the 2018 Premier’s Harmony Day Dinner.

In marking Harmony Day, Premier Gladys Berejiklian presented the Lifetime Community Service Medal to Ambrose Dinh at an event at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse.

Premier's Multicultural Community Medals recipients at Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion hosted by Multicultural NSW with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams. Photo: Salty Dingo 2018
Premier's Multicultural Community Medals recipients at Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion hosted by Multicultural NSW with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams. Photo: Salty Dingo 2018

“Mr Dinh has dedicated more than 40 years of continuous service to the Vietnamese community,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Turning 80 this year, he continues to volunteer a significant amount of time supporting Vietnamese Australian families and newly arrived migrants.

“I commend Mr Dinh and all recipients of tonight’s Multicultural Community Medals for their work in making NSW a harmonious, tolerant and inclusive place to live.”

Mr Dinh arrived in Australia in June 1975 as a Vietnamese refugee by boat. He founded numerous organisations assisting other Vietnamese refugees and is the current President of the Vietnamese Australian Welfare Association.

“Harmony to me is peacefully accepting each other’s culture. As a refugee, living and working together without conflict or tension is especially important,” Mr Dinh said.

“Through my work with the Vietnamese community and the Association, we teach the next generation to build this connection to the community.”

Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams said he was proud to live in a State where people from all walks of life and backgrounds are celebrated.

“In NSW, we are the sum total of all our diverse cultural backgrounds and [tonight] we celebrate this diversity as one of our greatest assets,” Mr Williams said.

In addition to the Lifetime Community Service Medal, there were 10 other Multicultural Community Medals including four posthumous medals awarded that night.

Economic Participation Medal Winner

Yateender Gupta has fostered economic relations between NSW and India. He founded the Australian Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and has been instrumental in establishing the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the ICAI and CPA Australia / CA Australia & New Zealand. He has mentored more than 500 ICAI members, supporting them to have their qualifications recognised.

Arts and Culture Medal Winner

Shireen Taweel is an emerging Western Sydney based artist, exploring her heritage, tradition, and community through her art. Her work incorporates copper-smithing and sculpture to create objects that reference Islamic Decorative Arts, her Lebanese heritage and cross-cultural experiences. Her work has been recognised by the arts industry through awards, residencies, and grants.

Human Rights Medal Winner

Angela Manson has been working with migrant communities as an interpreter, educator, and advocate for over 40 years. She has taught “Cross Cultural Skills” and “Cross-Cultural Communication” and has lectured Health Care Interpreters on “The Ethics of the Profession”. As the Director of Multicultural Health Services, she established the Refugee Health Assessment Clinic at Canterbury Community Health Centre and she continues to work with diverse communities and other relevant organisations servicing refugee communities and asylum seekers.

Lifetime Community Service Medal Winner

Ambrose Quoc Hung Dinh arrived in Australia in June 1975 as a Vietnamese refugee. Only two months after arriving in Australia by boat, Mr. Dinh began assisting other Vietnamese refugees with their settlement in Australia through numerous organisations he founded. He was a programmer and presenter of Vietnamese language programs on SBS Radio and he assisted in establishing the Vietnamese Women’s Association in NSW. Turning 80 this year, Mr. Dinh has given over 40 years of continuous service to his community and as the current President of The Vietnamese Australian Welfare Association of NSW.

Regional Communities Medal Winner

Promila Gupta is the President of the Indian Association of Newcastle Inc., editor of a leading national Indian newspaper, author of two cooking books and a chef with a Master’s Degree in Food & Nutrition. She teaches Indian cooking courses at the local WEA Hunter campus and is a regular contributor to SBS Radio, broadcasting her recipes in Hindi. She has volunteered for the community in South Australia and regional NSW for over 33 years and runs her own business named ‘Promila’s Kitchen’.

Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Medal Winner

Bilal El-Hayek has worked as a Youth Coordinator at PCYC Bankstown for the past five years to deliver the ‘Bankstown Connect’ Family Program, supporting newly arrived families and others experiencing economic disadvantage. He also developed a year-long leadership program called “Blue Crescent” for 20, predominantly Muslim, males aged 15 – 18 years, to become actively engaged in their community. Bilal has been a driving force behind the WISE UP project to improve social skills and educational engagement for disengaged youth. For the past three years, he has orchestrated the gathering of over 200 business, political and community leaders to attend an IFTAR dinner hosted by PCYC Bankstown.

Youth Medal Winner

Bassam Maaliki, a 14-year-old student from Homebush Bay High School, is the founder of a social change campaign, #UBelongHere — a project aimed at fostering a culture of inclusiveness and multicultural harmony in the local community and around Australia. At 13 years of age, he was accepted into the NSW Junior Parliament and has since skilfully championed his own campaign in the community through handcrafting a badge that can be worn in solidarity with refugees, migrants and all people seeking asylum. Bassam runs local activities to share the message of belonging. He was a keynote speaker at the SSI Youth Welcome Dinner and FECCA Conference in 2017.

2018 Premier’s Multicultural Honour Roll Inductees

Antonio Caputo OAM (12/08/1921 – 08/09/2015)

Antonio Caputo OAM was the Founding President of the St John the Baptist Association, which helps to coordinate Italian cultural events and fundraising activities as well as promote the Italian-Australian community. Antonio was involved in a wide variety of community organisations, including sporting, church, school, and Italian community organisations. He was a longstanding member of the Italian Chamber of commerce and acted at an international level to promote trade between Italy and Australia. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2009 for his outstanding service to the NSW Italian/ Australian community in his executive and volunteer roles with a number of organisations that assist migrants.

Biaggio Signorelli (23/07/1937 – 30/05/2008)

Biaggio Signorelli donated funds in 1972 to form the Sant’antonio da Padova Protettore di Poggioreale to assist Italians in Australia. In 2016, the association opened a 62 bed Nursing Home. Despite being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, he continued courageously to contribute to the Bernie Banton Foundation, as well as hospitals and other charities undertaking research and supporting patients. The Biaggio Signorelli Foundation was also founded in aid of mesothelioma patients’ care and research and to date has raised $2 million.

Edna McGill OAM (1927 – 2016)

Edna McGill was a founding member, Life Member, and former Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW. She served the ECC for 26 years and held several positions including the position of Hon. Treasurer. She had a passion for equitable access to NSW Education services. Through her commitment and desire to help her fellow Australians from diverse backgrounds, she played an important role in the development of Multiculturalism in NSW and nationally (through FECCA), SBS, the Ethnic Affairs Commission, and Anti-Discrimination Acts. For her work in the community and education, Edna was awarded an OAM in 1986.

Ellie Mournehis Kambos (31/01/1932 – 15/02/2017)

Ellie Mournehis Kambos worked to serve the Cypriot Community of NSW for over 55 years and was President of the Cyprus Community’s Ladies Committee for many years. She was the guiding force behind the proposed project “Home for the Aged of the Cyprus Community”, running events and assisting volunteers to raise over $900,000 to develop the project in the community. In her 70s, she created promotions for the Cypriot Club with the Cypriot Community talk back radio show. She was the recipient of the Local Woman of the Year award in 2012 presented by the then Minister for Women, Pru Goward MP, and in 2017, she was awarded the Lifetime Community Award by the Federation of Cyprus Communities of Australia and NZ for her outstanding lifetime contribution to the Federation.

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