Multiculturalism award for two

Maria Bunn with Citizenship and Multicultural
Interests  Minister Mike Nahan.
Multiculturalism award for two
Maria Bunn with Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Mike Nahan.

Hillarys resident Maria Bunn, who is president of the WA Multicultural Association, received the outstanding service title in the WA Multicultural Recognition Awards on March 14.

Clarkson’s Materno Biwot won the outstanding volunteer award for his involvement in child protection and community initiatives.

Ms Bunn’s nomination said she had been committed to working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities for more than 30 years, in both a paid and voluntary capacities, across a number of organisations.

“Maria has applied her rich experience in the multicultural aged- care sector to make a significant and sustainable positive impact on the sector,” it said.

“Some of Maria’s achievements include developing partnerships between aged-care providers and CaLD communities; writing the Multicultural Aged Care Handbook to support care providers, which has now sold more than 800 copies; and co-ordinating the ‘Let me speak’ project initiative of the Ethnic Disability Advocacy Centre and Headwest to support CaLD people with disability and acquired brain injury.

“As the current president of the WAMA, Maria continues to support new and emerging communities to build capacity by providing information and education programs.”

Ms Bunn migrated to Australia with her family from Italy when she was 10 years old, and learnt early about the challenges of migrating to another country.

“Lack of social interaction, cultural awareness and support, together with the type of migration or settlement issues experienced by many migrants on arrival to their destination can impact significantly on how one settles or adjusts to living in Australia or other countries,” she said.

Mr Biwot, whose son Jenon drowned at Claytons Beach in Mindarie in 2013, was recognised for his work with Surf Life Saving WA’s BeachSAFE program as well.

His nomination said since he arrived as a refugee from Sudan (now South Sudan), he had volunteered for a number of initiatives that have supported issues around child protection and community capacity building.

“He also delivers training on how to work more effectively with refugee families,” it said.

“Following the tragic drowning of his son, he has dedicated himself to educating CaLD children, predominately from landlocked African countries, about water safety.

“Through working with challenging issues faced by the CaLD community, as well as using a personal tragedy to improve the lives of others, Materno’s commitment to the WA community is outstanding.”

Launching Harmony Week, Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Mike Nahan said the 27 individuals and organisations recognised reflected the State’s diverse and dynamic community.

“These awards are a clear statement of the importance of recognising what is done, often behind the scenes, to ensure WA’s cultural diversity continues to flourish,” he said.

“Those being recognised represent cultures from around the world and bring a rich diversity and experience to benefit all Western Australians.”

The Office of Multicultural Interests’ community grants program supported a number of Harmony Week activities including the Indian Festival 2016 held in Joondalup last Sunday.