Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures

Published: August 6, 2023



Do you know an inspiring young leader passionate about languages and cultures and who advocates for a multilingual and culturally diverse Australia?

The Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures recognises outstanding young people who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to advocacy for a multilingual and culturally diverse Australia.

This Award is provided by the Minister for Education, Training and Skills, The Honourable Blair Boyer MP, through the Multicultural Education and Languages Committee (MELC) and administered by the Australia Day Council of South Australia.

The Multicultural Education and Languages Committee (MELC)

MELC is a ministerial advisory committee that works collaboratively with the three schooling sectors and community organisations in South Australia in the interrelated areas of languages education, multicultural education and the internationalisation of education. MELC works towards ensuring that education for all students is enriched by the value of engagement with linguistic and cultural diversity and that young people learn to operate with sophistication and ease with diverse people.

More information on MELC can be found here.


Award Categories

Category 1 – A high school student

This award is designed to promote the study of languages and the development of intercultural capabilities. It is awarded to a high school student who has shown outstanding commitment to their study of languages and cultures at school, and who seeks to advocate for a multilingual and culturally diverse Australia by fostering engagement in linguistic and cultural diversity.

Category 2: A young person 24 years of age or under (who is no longer at school)

Awarded to a young person who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to advocacy for a multilingual and culturally diverse Australia and strong community leadership.


Selection Criteria

Category 1 – A high school student

  • Sound capability in more than one language
  • Outstanding commitment to the study of languages and cultures
  • Effective intercultural capabilities
  • Fosters engagement in linguistic and cultural diversity within the school and/or the broader community.

Category 2: A young person 24 years of age or under (who is no longer at school)

  • Commitment to advocacy for a multilingual and culturally diverse Australia
  • Outstanding community leadership and effective communication skills
  • Sound capability in more than one language and the ability to operate successfully in linguistic and culturally diverse environments.

Nominations open for 2024 Awards!

** Nominations close on 1st November 2023.


Process of Nomination

Individuals, schools or organisations may submit nominations.

The nominating person or organisation should complete the online nomination form addressing ALL of the selection criteria for the relevant award category and can provide relevant background information and supporting materials.

Nominations must provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three referees who are familiar with the achievements of the nominee.


If you need assistance with your nomination, please contact Suzanne Malbut, Awards and Alumni Coordinator at the Australia Day Council of South Australia office: or (08) 8212 3999.


Process of Selection

  • The Selection Panel will consist of representatives from the Multicultural Education and Languages Committee and the Australia Day Council of South Australia.
  • The panel will use the listed criteria to shortlist finalists for each of the categories.
  • Finalists may be contacted for an interview to assist the panel in selecting the Award recipients.
  • The Award will be announced and presented at an Awards Ceremony held at Government House in 2024.
  • Only Award recipients will be contacted. Receipt of all nominations will be acknowledged formally after the Award Ceremony.

Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures Recipients 2023


Category 1

Thomas Pearson and Coen Pearson – Meningie Area School

Thomas and Coen Pearson are proud, young Ngarrindjeri men and senior leaders within the Meningie Area School. As brothers they have a strong partnership and commitment to their Ngarrindjeri language and culture and are passionate about sharing this knowledge across their school and local community.

This commitment and passion to their First Nation’s culture is demonstrated through Thomas and Coen’s eagerness and enthusiasm to regularly present engaging Welcomes to Country in Ngarrindjeri language. Thomas and Coen use these moments as an educational opportunity to share language and provide a deeper connection to Country with their peers and the broader community.

Thomas and Coen’s passion also extends towards mental health and wellbeing, and they have worked collaboratively with The Rural City of Murray Bridge to implement additional support to young people that maybe experiencing disengagement within the community.  This work has resulted in the delivery of programs offering hip hop and street art classes to provide a much-needed creative outlet and inspire confidence in young people.



William D’Angelo – Concordia College

William D’Angelo is a proud Kokatha man and an advocate for Indigenous students and culture within his school community at Concordia College.  He demonstrates a passion for learning and connecting with other languages and cultures such as German and Indonesian.

William collaborates with the College’s Indigenous Elder to guide, educate and enhance the school’s engagement with Indigenous peoples and participates in the Indigenous Mentoring Program offered through the Association of Independent Schools SA.

William is also a member of his school’s Reconciliation Action Group and through his role, provides guidance on cultural issues throughout the school community. William also represents Concordia College at official events and activities relating to reconciliation.


Category 2


Tahlia Riessen

Tahlia Riessen is an advocate and champion of Auslan. Tahlia studied Auslan at school at the Avenues College and completed a Diploma of Interpreting becoming a qualified Auslan/English interpreter. She has returned to Avenues College working as a Bilingual Support Officer in the Centre of Deaf Education supporting the education and wellbeing of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.

Tahlia has established a Transport Training Program for Deaf students at the Centre. This program develops students’ road safety and social skills enabling them to navigate confidently and safely within the community providing them with greater independence. Tahlia works collaboratively with school educators in the mainstream setting to develop inclusive strategies that enable Deaf students to engage in all learning opportunities and to share their language and culture with their peers. Tahlia is also a strong advocate for Deaf students to be able to access appropriate mental health support in Auslan.

Tahlia’s passion is working in linguistically and culturally diverse environments and supporting new arrivals in SA to overcome linguistic challenges, particularly students with a disability and those who use non-conventional sign language.



Mussa Nawroazi

As a compassionate community leader Mussa Nawroazi has devoted countless voluntary hours supporting newly arrived refugees who have escaped humanitarian crisis and conflict to feel safe and find their sense of belonging in South Australia.

Mussa is an Afghan refugee and his mother tongue is Dari. After the fall of Afghanistan in 2021, Mussa generously volunteered his time with Australian Migration Options supporting new arrivals in our state from Afghanistan, translating, interpreting, and assisting them to complete applications.

As an Ambassador for the charitable organisation Youth Opportunities, Mussa inspires confidence in young people, particularly new migrants and refugees to embrace new opportunities and to maintain and develop their linguistic and cultural heritage.