Yateender Gupta and Promila win Premier’s Multicultural Community Medals

Premier’s Harmony Dinner at Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion hosted by Multicultural NSW. Picture © Salty Dingo 2018

By Neena Badhwar

At the Premier’s Harmony Gala Dinner on March 21, Premier Gladys Berejiklian honoured community members with medals for their contributions they have worked and striven for the betterment of life in Australia. The dinner is an enthusiastic showcase of the strong and vibrant multicultural community of NSW. Attended by a good 800 people with many dressed   in proud national costumes ranging from India to El Salvador, the night celebrated harmony of diverse cultures living and celebrating together a sense of belonging and inclusiveness.

Harmony Day in Australia was declared in the year 1999 to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day to eliminate Racial discrimination. This years’ dinner was hosted by Ray Williams, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Multicultural NSW and it showcased and entertained the audience with Sinhalese dancers, drums and much more at the impressive Rosehill Venue where the Harmony logo displayed prominently on the back of the stage.

Said the Premier to the guests, “You have chosen NSW coming from different backgrounds. For that we are deeply grateful. Some of you have been recognised tonight, but others who for decades and decades have given back to the community, for no other reason but because that is the most Australian thing to do. To support one another and to give everybody equality of opportunity because that is what we strive for no matter our background. So long as we work hard and give back, do our best and encourage our children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities and aspirations. That is the value, I know, we all of us hold so dear.”

IABBV Hindi School teachers

Being of Armenian heritage herself and having learnt Armenian in a Sunday school, Premier acknowledged the work done by the Federation of Community Languages which booked 52 tables for the night. Having provided an additional eleven million dollars to the federation for resources and training teachers to teach a language with the help of Sydney university, Premier said NSW is proud to support languages and the value they add to the NSW economy.

Indian community stood tall, proud and prominent as two members of the Indian community won 2018 Premier’s Multicultural Community Medals out of the seven categories announced. They were:  Economic Participation Medal Winner –  Yatendera Gupta who 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.

The Regional Communities Medal category was won by  Promila Gupta  who is the President of the Indian Association of Newcastle Inc., 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’.

Promila, as readers of The Indian Down Under Newspaper would remember, has edited and run cookery column for over 15 years.

Sonya and Reena Jethi, adjudged finalists in best dressed costume

The night had also advertised for a best dressed costume, where two Indian ladies – Sonya   and Reena Jethi in Saris were chosen for their beautiful saris.

Other winners were:  Arts and Culture Medal Winner –  Shireen Taweel  is an emerging Western Sydney based artist, exploring her heritage, tradition, and community through her art.  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”.  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.  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.  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 announced were:  Antonio Caputo OAM for his untiring work in the Italian-Australian community;  Biaggio Signorelli who  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 set up Biaggio Signorelli Foundation in aid of mesothelioma patients’ care and research that to date has raised $2 million;  Edna McGill OAM,  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.  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.

Premier’s Harmony Dinner is a true multicultural event that is celebrated in the month of March.

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