JOE Tuazama strives to help build an inclusive society, particularly for those from African backgrounds.
He does this through his work as president of the Organisation of African Communities.
Now the Wanneroo resident has been recognised as a finalist in the community category of the 2018 Western Australian of the Year Awards.
Mr Tuazama came to Perth in 2008 as a refugee from war-torn Liberia.
Understanding the challenges faced by refugees and migrants to WA, he acted on the need to engage and educate African youth and the communities where they live.
He created partnerships with local and State Government agencies and developed programs to empower young men and women from a diverse range of African backgrounds and to provide them with leadership skills, as well as a sense of belonging and pride.
These initiatives have helped develop strategic policies to address issues faced by migrant groups.
Over the past four years, Mr Tuazama has also organised several major events that showcase and promote many aspects of African cultural heritage, helping to build and promote greater community harmony.
He is also a White Ribbon ambassador to to prevent men’s violence against women and is on the City of Wanneroo’s Multicultural Advisory Committee.
He said being nominated for the award felt “very good”.
“I have done a lot for 10 years and everything I do is free; I don’t get paid,” he said.
He said being nominated by someone who works on the same committee was also a great honour.
“We are just doing something to help others,” he said.
Mr Tuazama is one of 32 finalists across seven categories.
Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at Crown Ballroom this Friday as the first official event of the WA Day long weekend.
Of the category winners, an overall Western Australian of the Year will be announced.
Helping the hungry leads to nominiation
GREG Hebble is dedicated to addressing the daily struggles faced by West Australians who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
For this, the Foodbank WA chief executive since 2010 has been named a finalist in the community category of the 2018 Western Australian of the Year Awards.
Last year, the not-for-profit organisation provided more than 5.7 million meals to West Australians in need through its main Perth centre and five regional distribution branches and it is estimated it provides food for 94,000 people each month, of which one third are children.
The former Girrawheen resident said growing up he experienced first-hand how hard it was for his mum trying to raise three boys on her own.
“This coupled with my background in the food and grocery industry made Foodbank the perfect fit for me,” he said.
“I can really relate to many of the challenges that people face and I’m driven to continue to find more ways to help them.
“It’s unacceptable to me that 3.6 million Australians have experienced food insecurity in the past year and less than half have asked for help.”
Foodbank WA also runs the state’s largest school breakfast program, which provides 2.4 million breakfasts to 450 schools and delivers nutrition education and cooking programs to assist vulnerable West Australians.
Mr Hebble has been recognised for transforming the organisation from one that was barely surviving financially to one that is close to being fully sustainable.
He said it was “very humbling” to be named a finalist.
“Every day I just do what I think needs to be done to help others and I don’t see what I do as special,” he said.
“I feel very proud to be representing such a wonderful organisation of committed staff and generous team of volunteers.”
Wildcat star in the running for youth award
FORMER Wanneroo Wolves star and Perth Wildcats vice captain Greg Hire is being recognised as an advocate for youth mental health.
He is a finalist in the youth category of the 2018 Western Australian of the Year Awards, being acknowledged for several projects, charities and initiatives to combat mental illness and youth suicide.
His advocacy work has been undertaken through the National Basketball League, his own community networks and his charity A Stitch in Time, which aims to encourage resilience among young people through sport, mentoring and community workshops.
Hire is also an ambassador for Youth Focus and has been awarded a Pride of Australia medal after he was commended for saving the lives of two young people through his charity work.
2018 Western Australian of the Year Awards finalists
Colleen Hayward AM
Arts and Culture Award
Janet Holmes Court AC
Andrew Charles Ross
Mike Daube AO
Deborah Terry AO