Shining light

January 28, 2013

Greater Dandenong volunteers are a dedicated and talented bunch, as this year’s Australia Day award recipients demonstrate, Rachel Flaherty reports

In seven years, Sahema Saberi has gone from refugee to advocate and volunteer, co-founding the Australian Hazara Students Group and using her five languages to help support migrant families. The 21-year-old is this year’s Greater Dandenong Young Achiever of the Year. VOLUNTEERS HAILED IN AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS

Picture: RICHARD SERONG N31OS300 VOLUNTEERS who have dedicated years of work and sacrifice to help the Greater Dandenong community were proudly recognised on Saturday.

Mayor Angela Long said the Australia Day awards honoured residents who had made exceptional contributions to make a stronger, fairer and more connected society.

Noble Park’s Craig Hancock won Citizen of the Year f or his work with Parkmore Junior Football Club and as a volunteer with Noble Park Scout Club for more than 10 years.

‘‘ I’m gobsmacked. This award has caught me left of field. Never expected it,’’ Mr Hancock said.

‘‘I’m only a cog in a big wheel of many people who work hard behind the scenes to keep them going.’’

Young Achiever of the Year was awarded to Sahema Saberi, who arrived in Australia seven years ago as a refugee from Afghanistan and spoke little English at the time.

Since then, the 21-year-old has become deeply involved in the community and uses her five languages to help and support migrant families in need. Ms Saberi cof ounded t he Australian Hazara Students’ Group.

She has volunteered at Dandenong Hospital’s emergency department and earned a place in the Foundation f or Young Australians’ Young and Extraordinary Changemakers.

Dawn Vernon won the Good Neighbour of the Year award for her tireless work as the president of t he Greater Dandenong Neighbourhood Watch group and as a member of the council’s community safety advisory committee.

Graham Don was awarded Non-Resident of the Year for his passion for education as president of Springvale’s Learning and Activities Centre for more than 30 years.

Mr Don also volunteers with local groups, including Glencare, Keysborough Kindergarten, the Naval Association of Australia and the Springvale RSL.

The judges gave the Highly Commended award to Guillaume Nyakaboyi.

Dandenong North resident Peter Jabbour, 24, was awarded the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the community through multicultural and charitable organisations, including the Australian Arab Multicultural Association and South Eastern Region Migrant Resource Centre.

Source: Dandenong Leader Community Newspaper

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