Refugee Advocate Named Victorian Australian of the Year
17 November 2016 at 11:37 am
Refugee advocate Paris Aristotle AM has been named 2017 Victorian Australian of the Year.
The refugee, torture and trauma rehabilitation advocate, was named the 2017 Victorian Australian of the Year at a ceremony hosted by the Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau AM on Tuesday night.
The ceremony was told that Aristotle was a tireless advocate for refugees and asylum seekers.
“Paris Aristotle has made an enormous contribution by helping countless people rebuild their lives in Australia after surviving torture and trauma in their countries of origin,” a statement from the Australian Of the Year Awards Council said.
“In 1988, Paris began building the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, also known as Foundation House. Now leading a team of more than 200 staff, he has helped refugees recover from unspeakable trauma, through a range of mental health, health, advocacy, educational and community services.
“Aristotle has worked closely with the United Nations high commissioner for refugees in the field of refugee resettlement and has been instrumental in building a national network of torture and trauma services.
“For almost three decades he has advised both sides of politics on refugee and asylum seeker policy, and multicultural affairs.”
Currently the chair of two federal government councils, the award organisers said Aristotle had “demonstrated patience, personal integrity and practical skill as he navigates what is often an ethical and political minefield”.
The 2017 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year is 72-year-old Indigenous educator, Lois Peeler AM. A member of the Sapphires, Lois Peeler is also a political activist, passionate educator and principal at Australia’s only Aboriginal girls’ boarding school.
The 2017 Victorian Young Australian of the Year is 28-year-old diversity and inclusion champion, Jason Ball.
The 2017 Victorian Local Hero is Warrnambool community fundraiser, Vicki Jellie.
The governor of Victoria congratulated all the finalists and recipients, paying tribute to their contribution to Victoria.
“There is no question that they make us all better for what they have done and are doing, whether it is by improving our physical or mental health, promoting social inclusion and accessibility, supporting the victims of torture, family violence or sexual abuse, or addressing specific needs in the refugee, indigenous or veteran communities,” the governor said.
“Importantly, each of the finalists has taken action and in doing so have helped to build not only a vibrant and innovative country, but also a caring, compassionate and fairer one.”
The Victorian Award recipients will join recipients from the other states and territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2017 in Canberra.