The survey ‘Our Voices are Important in Greater Shepparton’ was highly commended at the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence earlier this month.
The in-depth survey spoke to 255 African residents aged over 18 to learn more about demographics, experiences and challenges in the community.
The survey is the first of its kind and St Paul’s African House partnerships and programs manager Kate Radevski said the data was being used state-wide.
“They produced an incredible report that details the demographics and the needs of the African community,” she said.
The focus group was highly commended in the Community Innovation Award category on Tuesday, December 7.
Presented by Victorian Governor-General Linda Dessau, Ms Radevski accepted the award on behalf of African Focus.
She said the work of Rebecca Awan, Beatrice Nyinawabera, Thomas Tiny, Akuot Wundit, Mireille Byamasu, Gracia Musafiri and Solange Habonimana needed to be acknowledged.
“For them to be recognised is really important,” she said.
Among the data collected, the report identified employment as the biggest issue for people of African heritage in greater Shepparton and that employment support services were difficult to access.
In direct response, African House hosted the Mini Multicultural Business Markets to provide a platform for small businesses owned by people of African heritage.
“The Christmas markets were a direct response to provide small business support,” Ms Radevski said.
“And the report is something that we will use to guide us going forward.”
Shepparton’s Sam Atukorala was also highly commended in the sport category.
As an AFL Diversity Program Ambassador and former Community Ambassador for Cricket Australia, Mr Atukorala was recognised for his ongoing work with young people from new and emerging communities in the region.
“It’s a community achievement,” he said.
“It recognised the great work we do as a community.”