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Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures

This Award is provided by the Minister for Education 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 international 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.

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


Nominees must be

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



  • Commitment to advocacy for a multicultural Australia.
  • Sound capability in more than one language and culture.
  • Outstanding qualities, including community leadership.
  • The ability to operate across languages and cultures.


Process of nomination

  • Nominations should include the nomination form and a written submission of between 500-2000 words from the nominating person or organisation.
  • The written submission should address the following:
      • Why you believe your nominee should win the Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures.
      • How your nominee demonstrates capability in more than one language.
      • Outstanding qualities your nominee has and how they show community leadership.
      • Their contribution to advocacy for a multicultural Australia.
      • The impact of this person’s advocacy on the community.
      • The scope of their advocacy and how they operate across cultures.
  • Provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three references who are familiar with the achievements of each nomination.
  • Individuals or organisations may submit nominations.
  • Nominations may be sent via post, 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. The Panel will use the listed criteria to shortlist finalists.
    • Finalists maybe contacted for an interview to assist the panel in selecting the award winner.
    • The award will be announced and presented at an awards ceremony to be held at Government House in January 2019.
    • Only award recipients will be contacted. Receipt of all nominations will be acknowledged formally on Australia Day.


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

    Nominations for 2019 close 31 October


    Past Winners


    Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures - 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. Manal is a spoken word (performance) poet and storyteller who uses her poetry to 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. Through her poetry and performance, Manal empowers others to find and develop their own voices and encourages others to question perspectives in order to engage with and embrace diversity. Manal works with Welcome to Australia, a non-for-profit organisation that aims to cultivate a culture of welcome to our nation, to support new arrivals and refugees and develop programs which elevate the national conversation around refugees, immigration and multiculturalism. Manal also works with ActNow Theatre to engage communities and schools in discussions about racism and cultural safety and assists high school students and community leaders to develop practical skills for ‘responding to racism’.


    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. 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 experiencing diverse languages and cultures. Through her advocacy, poetry, speeches and presentations Apui shines a spotlight on volunteerism, advocacy and social justice and supports young people to embrace their cultural identity and share their own experiences, languages and cultures to teach and lead others.



    Award for Excellence in Languages and Culture - Corey Kirkham 

    Corey Kirkham was awarded a scholarship in 2011 to finish High School at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West. This opportunity gave Corey the chance to interact with people from many different cultures and contribute to the student led cultural day celebrating Middle Eastern, Asian and Australasian nationals. He also learnt Spanish which was useful in the wider community in Las Vegas and Montezuma. After completing school in 2013, Corey lived in China and taught English to children aged from 3 to 13 while also learning Chinese. Through volunteer work with the Confucius Institute, Corey promotes awareness of Chinese language and culture in South Australia by attending and helping at the Institute’s initiatives and events. Corey’s skills in Chinese won him first place in the Chinese Bridge Competition in 2016 and an invitation from the Chinese Language Teachers Association of South Australia to be a keynote speaker, where he used his speech to encourage others to showcase Chinese language and culture throughout Australia. 


    Commendation - Yassir Ajrish

    Yassir Ajrish (also known as AJ) arrived in Australia as a refugee from Iraq seven years ago. At 20 years of age, he is very passionate about his work and studies and also loves to share his experiences with the wider community. He represents the Australian Refugee Association as a Youth Ambassador, volunteers with their homework clubs and works as a mentor in their youth mentoring program. AJ is fluent in Arabic and English and is also studying French. He believes it is important to learn many languages as it teaches people to communicate effectively and enables them to connect with as many people as possible. AJ performs music from his home country with family members at various functions and believes that Adelaide’s multiculturalism has given him the experiences and opportunities to get to where he is now.



     Award for Excellence in Languages and Culture - Qasem Bahmanzadah

    Qasem lost both his parents at age seven and came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan with no possessions and no grasp of the English language. Since arriving in Australia, Qasem has been a dedicated student and has also given back by assisting other refugees who have experienced similar hardship. As an Ambassador for the Australian Refugees Association he is an active participant in many fundraising activities and speaks in a large range of forums to help people understand the challenges refugees face, including the language and cultural barriers that make it hard for new arrivals to settle in. At just 19 years of age, Qasem completed his Bachelor of Aviation.


    Commendation - Murtaza Hussani

    Murtaza and his family fled Afghanistan when he was five years old and settled in Australia in 2011. 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 is studying visual arts at University. In 2015, he worked with the Australian Refugee Association to co-curate the 2015 Portrait Exhibition as well as contributing his own work towards it. He is passionate about raising awareness of the refugee experience and the challenges and opportunities posed by differences in culture, education, social interaction and language.  


    For more information about this award please contact the Australia Day Council on (08) 8212 3999 or

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