A Sri Lankan woman who encouraged women from culturally diverse backgrounds to open up about family and domestic violence issues has received the top honour at the Premier’s Harmony Dinner on 12 March.
NSW Premier Mike Baird awarded the prestigious Stepan Kerkyasharian AO Harmony Award to Nalika Padmasena in front of more than 1,300 people attending the annual event at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse.
“Ms Padmasena worked in legal services at Toongabbie after arriving in Australia from Sri Lanka in 1995. She chaired the Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association and volunteers at the Sinhalese language school at North Parramatta in her spare time,” Mr Baird said.
“Women in Australia enjoy many rights that women in other countries do not. We recognise the work she has done to inform female migrants of their legal rights while providing safe environments for them to speak out about domestic violence,” said Mr Baird. The announcement cam soon after Mr Baird had announced that if re-elected, the NSW Government would trial a scheme to allow suspecting women to access information on whether their partner has a history of violence.
“We live in one of the most multicultural states in the world and I would like to congratulate all winners of tonight’s Multicultural Community Medals for the contributions they make to ensure our society remains peaceful and harmonious,” he said.
Minister for Communities and Citizenship Victor Dominello said the Premier’s Harmony Dinner, now in its fourth year, was a celebration of cultural diversity – the state’s greatest economic and social asset.
“The Premier’s Harmony Dinner is an opportunity to showcase the rich heritage of our many multicultural communities and a time to celebrate the shared values that unite us as Australians,” Mr Dominello said.
“I congratulate all our community medal winners. They are true champions of cultural diversity and have enriched our state through their dedicated community service. Tonight we also posthumously recognise migrant community pioneers through the honour roll,” he added.
BOX: Multicultural Community Medal winners
Sarah Yahya for her work assisting refugees and asylum seekers within the Mandean community of Western Sydney.
YOUTH ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD:
William Ho for his role advocating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & intersex rights through community engagement projects on the NSW Central Coast.
LIFETIME COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD:
Ruben Amores for his role in establishing the Auburn Small Community Organisation Network and Kapit-bahayan Cooperative providing cooperative housing services.
ARTS AND CULTURE AWARD:
Paroula Galelis-Thurban for championing Australia’s understanding of Greek culture through her role as a language teacher and ambassador for the art of Greek dancing.
REGIONAL COMMUNITIES AWARD:
John Kutte Moi for his commitment to representing the African community in regional Wagga Wagga and establishing a holiday education program with a strong cultural focus.
ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION AWARD:
Jin Feng (Jeff) Li for enhancing collaboration between Australia and China and establishing the Australia Technology and Investment Committee (ATIC) in 2011.