Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Migration awards celebrate diversity

21 August 20150 comments
Tony Abbott and Petro Georgiou at the Migration and Settlement Awards

Tony Abbott and Petro Georgiou at the Migration and Settlement Awards

The AFL, a regional Queensland meat processor and an Islamic women’s association are among a diverse group of committed and innovative organisations and individuals honoured in the 2015 Migration and Settlement Awards.

The Australian Football League won the Sports Leadership for ongoing commitment to multicultural engagement.

Migration Council of Australia Chief Executive Carla Wilshire said the strength of the list of finalists and the qualities of the winners showed the positive impact migration and multiculturalism was having across Australia.

“The quality and spread of shortlisted finalists – across geography and industry sectors – shows us that diversity is becoming more important and relevant to Australians,” Ms Wilshire said.

“This year’s list is a wonderful advertisement for the benefits of migration and the richness that cultural diversity brings to all our lives,” she said.

The third Australian Migration and Settlement Awards were held in the Great Hall this week celebrating the work and support of individuals and organisations who build belonging and welcome for new migrants.

Keynote speaker George Megalogenis called upon history to guide a path forward for migration for the 21st century. When Australia has been open to migration, prosperity has followed.

Eight individuals and organisations were recognised for their contribution to Australia’s migration story. Former MP Petro Georgiou was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award for his unique contribution to Australian multiculturalism and support for settlement services.

In accepting an award for Lifetime Achievement, former Liberal MP Petro Georgiou criticised the Federal Government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Returning to Parliament House for the first time since he retired from politics in 2010, Mr Georgiou said Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers has gone through alternating phases of generosity and “harsh new measures”.

“Today, under the pressure of numbers and the significance of tragic deaths at sea, we have returned to punishment,” Mr Georgiou said in a speech accepting his award.

“Our treatment of these women and children is, I believe, wrong and I believe an increasing number of Australians, once they appreciate what is happening, will come to regard it as being unacceptable,” he said.

Mr Georgiou singled out the late Malcolm Fraser, whose achievements in implementing a non-discriminatory immigration policy, multiculturalism and a creative and humane response to refugees he said were “truly historic” and had made for a stronger, more cohesive and more tolerant nation.

“Our progress has not been inexorable, nor is it inevitable, and importantly the long march to Indigenous recognition and fair treatment is far from complete, but I do remain an optimist about the power of Australia’s best values…and I believe our best achievements still lie ahead,” Mr Georgiou said.

Award winners were:

Settlement Innovation: Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre WA for their ‘sharing stories’ program.

Case Worker of the Year: Mr. Ali Faraj, Community Engagement Manager at the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Diversity and the Law: Women’s Legal Centre ACT for their CALD advice program.

Journalism Excellence: Mr. Peter Mares from Inside Story for his piece, ‘Living at the wrong end of the queue’.

Business Inclusion: Teys Australia in Biloela for their community employment initiatives.

Sports Leadership: The Australian Football League for ongoing commitment to multicultural engagement.

Empowering Women Award: The Islamic Women’s Association of Queensland for fostering independence and resilience in refugee women.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Petro Georgiou for his contribution to multiculturalism.

The Migration and Settlement Awards 2015 were supported by Australia Post, Virgin Australia, Santos, the Sussan Group, AMES Australia, Navitas English, Access Community Services, Opera Australia and the National Archives Australia.



Skye Doyle
AMES Australia Staff Writer