SSI News Blog

Former refugee Hikmat Shah has been given a ‘CoAct Local Heroes’ award by CoAct Ambassador, Olympic and World Champion, Matthew Cowdrey alongside Federal MP Chris Hayes and nominator SSI representatives at a ceremony today at Parliament House, Canberra.

Hikmat Shah
Hikmat Shah receiving his award from Olympic and World Champion swimmer Matthew Cowdrey

The awards ceremony held at Mural Hall, Parliament House recognised recipients from across the country that provide inspiration, have shown great personal achievements or created innovations for Australians who need a road back into the workplace and a brighter future. The ceremony was attended by the MPs, CoAct members, Federal Ministers, leaders in the NFP sector, and representatives from the United Nations and OECD.

Hikmat Shah, a budding entrepreneur being assisted by SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative, said he was humbled by the experience of winning an award and was honoured by the acknowledgement.

“I feel so privileged to be given this opportunity to come to Canberra today and receive this award,” Mr Shah said.

Mr Shah came to Australia in 2010 and sought refuge from the persecution and violence he and his family experienced in Pakistan.

In Karachi, Mr Shah was a businessman, employing thousands of people across a variety of businesses, including a social enterprise that supported underprivileged women in rural areas with employment and regular income.

Mr Shah said he was working hard to establish himself again as a businessman in Australia, starting with his taxi business.

“With the support of SSI and Ignite I feel more confident and knowledgeable, and I hope that soon I will be able to fulfil my dreams of business and one day provide employment opportunities again.”

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative was established to support the entrepreneurial skills, knowledge, and experience of refugees as they navigate the Australian business environment and to help them reach their full potential.

“I congratulate Hikmat for this well-deserved recognition today,” Ms Roumeliotis said.

“Hikmat has demonstrated incredible courage and determination during his settlement and it has been wonderful to witness the successful transformation and empowerment of another human being.”

Matt Little, CoAct CEO, says that the Hikmat’s achievements are a prime example of what can be achieved when organisations collaborate for the greater good and benefiting the whole community.

“At CoAct, we deliver opportunities for everyday Australians regardless of disadvantage. All of the Local Heroes recognised today are perfect examples of people and organisations who, despite some difficulties, worked hard to achieve their goals and provide a role model for others.”
The awards ceremony is part of the CoAct conference in Canberra (June 23-24)

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Media enquiries:
SSI Marketing & Communications Manager, Angela Calabrese 0401 284 828
Images available on AAP One or contacting Stieve De Lance 0431 139 681

About SSI: Settlement Services International is a leading not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, accommodation, asylum seeker assistance, foster care, disability support and employment services in NSW. SSI is the largest not-for-profit humanitarian settlement organisation in Australia. Our vision is to achieve a society that values the diversity of its people and actively provides support to ensure meaningful social and economic participation and to assist individuals and families to reach their potential.

About CoAct: CoAct (formerly Job Futures) is a national network of locally embedded community service providers working together

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