Building Inclusive Communities Awards presented by NSW Premier

by Jordan Valageorgiou - Friday, 5 August 2011

NSW Premier the Hon. Barry O’Farrell today presented the 2011 inaugural “Building Inclusive Communities” awards at a morning tea held at NSW Parliament House on Macquarie Street.

The awards herald a new partnership between Macquarie University (Social Inclusion) and the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW (ECC). Their purpose is to recognise and showcase groups and individuals in NSW whose work promotes inter cultural understanding and makes a significant contribution in building a diverse Australia. There was particular interest in the “quiet achievers” whose valuable efforts often go unnoticed.

There were 55 award nominations received from across NSW offering a range of exciting and innovative projects and programs. Winners, and those Highly Commended were selected in five categories: government, individual, NGO, volunteer/ community and youth (projects managed by young people (under 25)

In his address prior to presenting the awards, Mr O’Farrell noted that the City of Sydney is home to people from 187 nationalities. He said the awards serve to remind us of the need to acknowledge difference in the community and the importance of promoting inclusiveness.

“These awards focus attention on the benefits of multiculturalism,” O’Farrell said.

O’Farrell’s thoughts were echoed by Macquarie Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steven Schwartz and Mr Jack Passaris, OAM, Chair of the ECC who spoke about the importance of celebrating rather than fearing our rich diversity .

Winners and runners up in the five categories of the 2011 Building Inclusive Communities’ Awards were:

Winner: City of Sydney (government) – Living in Harmony Festival 
A partnership with 36 community groups and organisations which presented more than 19 events to celebrate the city’s vibrant cultural diversity.

Highly Commended: NSW AMES (government) – Sydney Local Area Health Network and South Western Sydney Local Area Health Network for “Understanding Good Health”  An online health promotion which incorporates key priority health issues into the content of English lessons. It was developed to help address health issues faced by migrants.

Winner: Bob Neville (individual) – Tinga Regeneration Program
Tingha has a population of 846 of which at least 40 per cent are Indigenous Australians. The program is not only designed to rebuild the community, it also seeks to provide a model for many struggling communities throughout Australia.

Highly Commended: Ziad El- Daoud  (Individual)
Ziad has been a volunteer for a number of years with the 5th Bankstown ICPA Scout Group. In this capacity, he has been promoting harmony between youths in the Bankstown area encouraging them to participate in community activities such as Clean Up Australia Day. The activities he arranges help to encourage dialogue between young people for all difference backgrounds.

Winner: Imagine Bankstown (NGO)
This is a project run by the Arab Council of Australia that commenced in 2006. The project has brought together a range of community stakeholders of different backgrounds to harness the ideas imagination and dreams of the people of Bankstown. Some of the activities have been youth training and listening conversations and a women’s café.

Highly Commended: Harmony Day Poster Competition (NGO)
A small number of volunteers developed the Harmony Day Poster Competition in 2005. It now provides all school students in NSW an opportunity to participate in this annual competition that promotes mutual respect, understanding and community harmony.

Winner: Two joint winners in the Voluntary and Community Group category – WAFRICA and Global Backyard Refugee Network

Winner: The Wagga African Association (WAFRICA) Inc.
WAFRICA came into being in 2008 in response to community concerns about relations between the residents of Wagga and the local African community.
They initiative projects that contribute directly to the welfare of the broader community such as the recent fund-raising concert for the local hospital

Winner: Global Backyard Refugee Network
Global Backyard works in partnership with individuals and organisations to promote inclusive, productive and harmonious communities. It brings people from all walks of life and all ages in one to one partnerships with members of refugee communities who are supported through mentoring, literacy and social enterprise projects.

Highly Commended: Sydney Latin American Film Festival (Voluntary and Community Group)
SLAFF was established by volunteers in 2006. Each year SLAFF conducts film screenings at a number of venues, many of which include panel discussions promoting dialogue and interactions. A key element of its mission is to support needy or disadvantage communities by directing funds raised towards relevant causes.

Winner: Football United (Projects initiated or managed by youth)
Uses football as a vehicle to build social cohesion and promote Australia’s multicultural fabric. Established in 2005. Football United runs eight soccer programs across western Sydney, engaging 600 culturally and linguistically diverse and Indigenous youth in weekly football.

Highly Commended: Interact (International Action) – (Voluntary and Community Group)
Interact is a student-run organisation that began in 2000 based at Hurlstone Agricultural High School. It is run by a board of 10 students who organise events and opportunities to raise awareness of social justice issues specifically within the school. The club now has 290 members. It is the largest student-run charitable organisation in the southern hemisphere.