Sydney Australia 23/02/17 : For the 19th consecutive year, the United Australian Lebanese Movement (UALM) held its annual Australia Day awards, which aim to recognise members of the Australian Lebanese community who have contributed to advancing Australia, as well as highlighting the positive contribution Lebanese immigrants have made since the earliest days of their immigration to Australia in the 1800s.
The event opened with a beautiful rendition of the Australian National Anthem that was performed by young Australians, Domenic and Rachelle Nakhoul.
The Event organised annually by the NSW branch of the UALM, was hosted by Federal Secretary of the UALM, Claudine Mansour Germanos and was well attended by representatives of the various Australian political parties, including the Hon Geoff Lee Member for Parramatta representing the Premier of NSW, the Hon Julie Owens, Federal Member for Parramatta representing Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten, and the Hon Julia Fynn Member for Granville. Also present were many individuals representing local councils, as well as the vast array of Australian Lebanese social, political and religious associations.
Mr Robert Bekhazi, Federal President of the UALM touched in detail on the controversial issue raised by Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, where he discussed Lebanese immigration to Australia in the 1970’s in a negative light. Mr Bekhazi rejected that such thinking has any place in Australian politics, pointing to the fact that the individuals being honoured each year by the UALM were proof the valuable contributions that Lebanese immigrants had made to Australia. Many other speakers, particularly the MP’s that were present also rejected Dutton’s comments and stressed the positive contribution that Australians of Lebanese descent were making in all fields of life.
NSW UALM Vice President Tony Rizk read a letter of congratulations sent to the UALM for the event, from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
This year the UALM honoured the following individuals for outstanding contributions:
Dr Margaret Ghosn – Academia: Dr Ghosn has made an outstanding contribution to the field of education in various roles as a university professor as well as the current Principal of the Maronite College of the Holy Family.
Fouad Neeman El Khoury – Literature: Mr El Khoury has published 8 books of poetry in Australia, and contributed immensely to Newspaper publishing.
Dr Imad Berro – Community Service: Dr Berro who holds a P.H.D. in Applied Medical Microbiology and Immunology, has received awards for his dedication and contribution to various social service and community organizations.
The various MPS and community leaders present, joined with UALM NSW President Tony Taouk and Australia Day Ambassador John Stanley in presenting plaques of honour to this year’s recipients of the UALM Australia Day Awards.