Two Bangladeshis in Australia, Shamaruh Mirza and Nazmul Hasan were named for 2023 Australian of the Year Awards under the Local Hero category.
Hassan and Mirza were named under the Local Hero category, on October 27.
A total of 16 people have been nominated for the award in four categories, including a man launching rockets into space from Australia, a hip-hop musician, an insect farmer, human rights advocates and a woman whose sewing is changing lives.
Hasan decided to offer free food and essential items to those who needed them, when Canberra went into Covid-19 lockdown in August 2021, knowing that many people would struggle to make ends meet.
"With only a Facebook page and Google form, Hasan provided thousands of free halal meals, groceries and even whitegoods," reads The Canberra Times report.
In 2021, he began helping resettle Afghan refugees, helping them access essential supplies, and assisting them to navigate employment and government services. This work continues through his not-for-profit organization, Rahimoon, which collaborates with the Red Cross.
The 40-year-old organizes interfaith and multicultural events in addition to his charitable work, to promote unity across multicultural Australian communities.
A role model in serving community needs, Hassan was honored with the ACT Outstanding Excellence Award for Diversity and Inclusion as well as the ABC Canberra Community Spirits Award in 2022.
Mirza, a physician, met a lot of women dealing with depression as she did volunteer work among culturally and linguistically diverse groups in Canberra.
Wanting to give women of diverse backgrounds a safe space in which to discuss their challenges and gain confidence, she co-founded SiTara's Story in 2017.
It is a place where women could discuss stigmatized topics without fear, form support networks and empower themselves, reads the report.
The volunteer-run not-for-profit now organizes workshops, talk shops, seminars and creative competitions that support CALD women to discuss mental health, disability, domestic violence, and self-care and skill development.
In 2021, the organization was awarded the ACT Mental Health Month award. Mirza, 44, was a finalist in the Canberra Community Spirits Award 2021.
One of the Christian volunteers Proshanto Rebeiro said, "I am pleased to hear that news because our country’s people are also doing charitable works around the globe. I am inspired by their witness."
Altogether 16 people are in the race to be named the ACT Australian of the Year, ACT Senior Australian of the Year, ACT Young Australian of the Year and ACT Local Hero. - Nikhil Gomes
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