My Cart


Become a Member of the Australia Day Council - click here

Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures

This Award is provided by the Minister for Eduation and Child Development through the Multicultural Education and Languages Committee (MELC) and administered by the Australia Day Council of South Australia. This Award is presented at the Australia Day Awards Ceremony each year.

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 collaboratively with educational and community organisations 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.

Nominees must be

  • An Australian citizen
  • 24 years or younger
  • Nominated by another person or a group, community organisation, school.


  • Commitment to advocacy for a multicultural Australia
  • A high degree of competence in more than one language
  • and culture
  • Outstanding qualities, including community leadership
  • The ability to operate across cultures

Process of nomination

  • Nominations should include the nomination form and a written submission, from the nominating person or organisation, of between 500-2000 words
  • Provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three references who are familiar with the achievements of each nomination
  • Individuals and organisations may submit nominations
  • Nominations may be sent via post, fax, online form or email

Process of Selection

  • The Selection Panel will consist of representatives from the Multicultural Education and Languages Committee and the Australia Day Council. They will use the listed criteria to shortlist finalists who will be contacted for an interview
  • The award will be announced and presented at an awards ceremony to be held in Government House in January 2018,
  • Only award recipients are contacted. Receipt of all nominations will be acknowledged formally on Australia Day. 

Individuals and organisations are encouraged to submit nominations of young people who demonstrate excellence and leadership in languages and cultures. 

If you need assistance writing your nomination refer to our our tips for nominating

Please note nominations for 2018 are now closed. Any nominations received from 27 November 2017 will be put forward to the 2019 award. 

 Nominate Online

Past Winners


Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures 2018 - commendation - Apiu Nyang

Apiu is a young South Sudanese Australian who arrived in Australia in 2006. Apiu is passionate about her own culture and engagement with linguistic and cultural diversity. She has supported young people to embrace their own cultural identity and to share their own experiences, languages and cultures to teach and lead others. Apiu is a strong advocate for newly arrived refugees through her role as Youth Ambassador with the Australian Refugee Association. In her school life at Nazareth Catholic College, Apiu has been a leader in the schools culture club and instrumental in enabling educators to help plan focused activities around cultural integration and and experiencing diverse languages and cultures. Through her advocacy, poetry, speeches and presentations she is a young woman that shines a spotlight on volunteerism, advocacy and social justice.

Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures 2018 - Manal Younus

Manal is a young Muslim women of Eritrean origins, who through her storytelling, community work and advocacy has been a great contributor to the national discussion on linguistic and cultural diversity, what it means to be different and how to be an agent of change. Through her poetry and performance Manal has encouraged and empowered others to find and develop their own voices. Manal has supported new arrivals and refugees and developed programs to elevate the national conversation around refugees, immigration and multiculturalism, through her work with Welcome to Australia - a non-for-profit organisation that aims to cultivate a culture of welcome to our nation. With the ActNow Theatre, Manal staged award-winning interactive theatre performances that identify and confront racism. Through these workshops Manal has engaged communities and schools in discussions about racism and cultural safety and has assisted high school students and community leaders to develop practical skills for ‘responding to racism’. Manal is a spoken word (performance) poet and storyteller who has used her poetry not only to explore her own sense of identity but also to provoke discussion relating to issues of linguistic and cultural diversity, racism and prejudice. Manal has worked with other refugees to develop and perform poems that share their stories of persecution, displacement and freedom. Manal has encouraged others to question perspectives in order to bring about change and encourage all Australians to engage with and embrace diversity.


The Minister for Education's Award for Excellence in Languages and Culture 2017 - commendation - Yassir Ajrish

Yassir Ajrish arrived in Australia as a refugee from Iraq seven years ago. Now at only 20 years old, he is very passionate about his work and studies and also loves to share his experiences with the wider community. Not only does he represent the Australian Refugee Association as a Youth Ambassador, he volunteers with the homework clubs and also further works as a mentor in their youth mentoring program.  Being fluent in Arabic and English and further studying French, ‘AJ’ believes it is important for people to learn many languages as it allows for the opportunity to communicate effectively and connect with as many people as possible. He also performs music from his home country with family members at various functions. ‘AJ’ also believes that with Adelaide being a multicultural city, it has given him the experiences and opportunities to get to where he is now.

The Minister for Education's Award for Excellence in Languages and Culture 2017 - Corey Kirkham 

Corey Kirkham at just 22 years of age has achieved a lot, really embracing the opportunities he has been presented with. Awarded a scholarship in 2011 to finish High School at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West, gave Corey the chance to truly immerse himself and interact with people from many different cultures. During this time he had the opportunity to contribute to the student led cultural day celebrating the Middle Eastern, Asian and Australasian nationals. This also gave him the chance to learn Spanish which was useful in the wider community in Las Vegas and Montezuma. In 2013, after completing school he became an ESL teacher in China, teaching English to children aged from 3 to 13. Corey quickly developed his Chinese, motivated to do so knowing it would help with buying food, networking and making new friends. Currently he is completing a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Finance as well as a Diploma in Chinese.  Whilst at university he began volunteering with the Confucius Institute, Corey has continued promoting an awareness of the Chinese language and culture here in South Australia with this initiative, attending and helping at many events. Corey’s skills in Chinese won him first place in the Chinese Bridge Competition in 2016. His involvement further inspired high school students not only in Adelaide but Australia wide. His initiative has not gone unnoticed, with Corey being invited to be the keynote speaker for the Chinese Language Teachers Association of South Australia to talk to and inspire others to showcase Chinese language and culture throughout Australia. 


The Minister for Education's Award for Excellence in Languages and Culture 2016 - commendation - Murtaza Hussani

 Murtaza and his family fled Afghanistan when he was 5 years old and settled in Australia five years ago. He is passionate about raising awareness about the refugee experience and the challenges and opportunities posed by differences in culture, education, social interaction and language. As a student leader, Murtaza coordinated multiple major fundraisers to benefit refugees including a donation of 700 cans of food for an emergency relief program and has committed a great deal of time to mentoring primary school students. Murtaza is a talented artist and has chosen to study visual arts at University, and has worked with the Australian Refugee Association to co-curate the 2015 Portrait Exhibition as well as contributing his own work towards it. 

The Minister for Education's Award for Excellence in Languages and Culture 2016 - Qasem Bahmanzadah

At just 19 years of age, Qasem has just completed his final year of a Bachelor of Aviation - impressive given his age but more so considering he lost both his parents at age seven before coming to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan with no possessions and no grasp of the English language. Since this time Qasem has been a dedicated student but also given back to assist other refugees, including acting as an Ambassador for the Australian Refugees Association and speaking in a large range of forums to give more understanding to a wide collection of people, some of the challenges refugees face as well as being an active participant in many fundraising activities. 

For more information about this award please contact the Australia Day Council on (08) 8463 5436 or

Stay up to date

Sign up to our mailing list