Bhutan Refugee Given Top New Aussie Honour
24 January 2014 at 2:24 pm
A former Bhutan refugee has been named the inaugural New Australian of the Year.
Horticulturalist Parsuram Sharma-Luital was nominated by the Refugee Council of Australia for his support for migrant and refugee communities and his broad contribution to Australian society.
He was selected by a panel appointed by the Victorian Australia Day Council. The panel considered nominations from around Australia of people who have lived in the country 18 years or less and have made a significant contribution to the nation.
He was presented the award at the Victorian Australia Day Council dinner in Melbourne.
“Parsu has an extraordinary passion to help others, which he has demonstrated over the past 12 years in so many ways, from his voluntary work with refugee communities and charities through to his advocacy on policy issues with peak bodies and government agencies,” Refugee Council of Australia Chief Executive Officer Paul Power said.
“He has represented refugee communities and the Refugee Council of Australia at high-level international meetings, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees NGO consultations in Geneva where he promoted best-practice refugee settlement services to an international audience and advocated for fairer treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in the Asia-Pacific region.
“As a horticulturalist with specialist knowledge in mushroom cultivation, Parsu has pioneered new methods of growing shitake mushrooms and shared his knowledge with Australian farmers and newly arrived refugees.
“Now a community liaison officer with the Victorian Police, Parsu has also worked with AMES in community education and driver education programs for newly arrived refugees and has played a significant role in supporting the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees from Nepal since 2008.”
Sharma-Luital’s work also extends to the development of Bhutanese community organisations in Australia and encouraged those organisations to support needs within Australia, including by initiating donation drives for victims of Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires and Queensland’s 2011 floods.
“Overall, Parsu has delivered more than 50 significant community-based projects in partnership with about 60 organisations, involving some 20 ethnic communities,” Power said.