VICTORIAN AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD RECIPIENTS 2012
- Victorian Local Hero 2012 – Ahmed Dini
- Victorian Australian of the Year 2012 – Geoffrey Rush
- Victorian Young Australian of the Year 2012 – Marita Cheng
- Victorian Senior Australian of the Year 2012 – Dr Nouria Salehi OAM
The Victorian Local Hero 2012 is North Melbourne resident and African youth leader Ahmed Dini, who has championed the integration of Somalian refugees in the local community and was presented with his award by Governor of Victoria, the Hon Alex Chernov AO QC last night at the Albert Park Carousel.
Despite enduring the challenges of living in a refugee camp as a young boy, Ahmed Dini, still only 24, has become a leader in Australia’s Somali community. He has galvanised Somali migrants through events and initiatives that provide significant support to Somali families and has become a strong voice and influential advocate for his community.
Ahmed was ten years old when he arrived in Australia and since finishing school has spearheaded the creation of the Australian Somali Football Association (ASFA) to promote sport, mentor under-privileged young people and to create a more cohesive Somali and wider Horn of African community.
Ahmed Dini was thrilled to receive the award and said “What started out as a dream has led to this overwhelming award and it is difficult to believe I have won against such strong nominees. To represent Victoria and African Australians will be the greatest honour of my life,”
“This award is also dedicated to the African youth who work tirelessly to better their communities in this great nation of ours,”
“I could not have achieved this honour without my hardworking committee at the Australian Somali Football Association and the Australian Horn of Africa community. I would also like to thank Moonee Valley City Council, City of Melbourne, Football Federation Victoria, Neighbourhood Renewal & Department of Human Services, Range Resources, Sports Without Borders, Bendigo Bank Flemington, Flemington Rotary, Red Elephant Projects, Utility Creative, the Australian Federal Police and everybody that has helped us along the journey.”
Through his vision, the Australian Somali Football championships have become the largest sporting event ever undertaken by the Somali/Horn of Africa community in Australia, with more than 4,500 people attending. As event manager, Ahmed is inspirational, leading the 10-person committee, 21 sponsor partners, 80 volunteers, 16 coaches and managers and 180 players. The success of the event prompted the Football Federation Victoria to incorporate the championships into its ‘United through Football’ program.
Ahmed is also a Project Ambassador for the Sustainable Employment and Economic Development (SEED) program that assists young people with job placements in the City of Moonee Valley and Western Melbourne.
The Victorian recipients will now join recipients from all other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2012 in Canberra.
Tam Johnston, Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, said the Victorian award recipients were inspirational achievers giving back to help others.
“The award recipients can be admired both for what they have done and for how they are supporting and encouraging others,” said Ms Johnston.
The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than 30 years. Chief Executive Officer Ralph Norris congratulated the Victorian award recipients.
“The Commonwealth Bank is proud to be part of acknowledging the work and efforts of an impressive group of Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards,” said Mr Norris.
“This year’s Victorian recipients are extraordinary people that we can all be inspired by. It is the passion and determination of individuals like these that make Australia a terrific country. I wish them the best of luck for the national awards in January.”
14 NOVEMBER 2011
Ahmed Dini acceptance speech