The Australian of the Year Awards includes a category of Local Hero drawn from each state and territory. In 2024, Betul Tuna was Victorian Local Hero for 2024.
During the 2022 floods in her local community and the 2023 earthquake in Turkey, Betul helped ensure affected communities received necessary supplies and access to essential services.
She also coordinated the design and implementation of a state-funded program that aims to prevent violence against women in migrant and refugee communities and created a bold and successful campaign against female genital mutilation.
Betul co-founded the ‘Hijack’d’ mobile food van, which provides culturally appropriate food and creates jobs for local young people. She also co-founded the Point of Difference Studio which champions arts, culture and identity and advocates for culturally safe, respectful and accessible environments in regional Victoria.
The Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District extends hearty congratulations to Ms. Betul Tuna as recipient of Victoria Local Hero for 2024, and participation in the Australian of the Year Awards 2024.
I grew up in Shepparton, um, in the commission areas on the north side of Shep. If anyone knows Olympic Avenue, uh, it’s rich, it’s diverse, and there’s all walks of life that share common, uh, struggles in very various different ways.
Um, yet we all seem to be united together. The point of different studio was born out of need, and the need was the desperation in our communities. Some of the most vulnerable and marginalized members in the town that we’re all living in, most of them have temporary or might not have visas or the children of people without visas.
So we found that there was huge gaps and flaws in systems that was really, um, impacting lives. It’s our role to advocate for them and and to navigate the space with them.
Young people in particular needed safe spaces to be, to explore their identity and to love the skin that they were born with. When we created the point of different studio, we just created it for it to be a home for everyone.
It’s never the same. Like you’ll never know what you’re gonna walk into every day when you go in there. It might be the kids that have skipped school for whatever reason.