Sam Atukorala inducted to Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll

Sam Atukorala being inducted When Sam Atukorala came to Australia, he never saw himself being anything but a banker, let alone landing himself on the Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll. Mr Atukorala was among 28 people chosen in the first-ever Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll, created to recognise individuals who have made lasting contributions to multiculturalism in the state.


When Sam Atukorala came to Australia, he never saw himself being anything but a banker, let alone landing himself on the Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll.

Mr Atukorala was among 28 people chosen in the first-ever Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll, created to recognise individuals who have made lasting contributions to multiculturalism in the state.

While the Ethnic Council of Shepparton’s strategic engagement co-ordinator, Mr Atukorala was also recognised as being a community leader and mentor to members from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“I’m really honoured and humbled, it’s definitely something that I didn’t expect or didn’t see coming,” Mr Atukorala said. “My volunteering and helping the multicultural community through the job and volunteer activities went to the next level since I came to Shepparton.”

Mr Atukorala came to Australia in 2000 as an international student to pursue further studies in business management. Though he was fortunate enough to pay his course fees as without too much struggle, he saw how it affected many others having to pay up front.

“Financially, a lot of international students find it really difficult but on top of that, it’s also an alienating experience,” he said. “They stay with their families, then all of a sudden they go to a different country to pursue studies and don’t have any friends, family ― everything is new.”

Not wanting to see others in hardship, he started helping other international students to source accommodation, employment or “just being a mate”. Amidst other volunteering roles, he studied to become a student education counsellor.

“The passion is really coming from my culture, religion, the way I was brought up is to help others,” he said.

Coming to Shepparton in 2013, Mr Atukorala volunteered to teach English to new arrivals of the country, it was there he met his network at the Ethnic Council. Since 2013, Mr Atukorala has gained quite the list of duties and achievements.

He has become a part of community boards, advisory committees, a mentor, the founding president of the Buddhist Association of the Goulburn Valley Inc. and was named the Greater Shepparton Citizen of the Year in 2019.

On a national scale, Mr Atukorala became Cricket Australia’s Community Ambassador of the Year in 2018 and AFL Multicultural Ambassador of the Year for June of 2020.

And on May 31 at the Melbourne Arts Centre, he was inducted to the Honour Roll by the Victorian Multicultural Commission chair Vivienne Nguyen and Victorian Multicultural Affairs Minister Ros Spence.

Mr Atukorala said any award or recognition given was not so much an individual achievement, but a collective. “This community has given me so much to actually grow as a person,” he said. “I’m a graduate of the Fairley Leadership Program and that made a significant impact on my life and leadership journey.

“It gave me a better perception of the region, when I first came here, I didn’t really like Shepparton ― I didn’t want to be here. “But Shepparton is a unique place and I’ve found wonderful people that are actually accepting for who you are and supportive, and I want to thank this community.

“I want to continue to give back to this wonderful community to make it an even better place.”

 

Sam Atukorala being inducted
Award: Sam Atukorala being inducted to the Victorian Multicultural Honour Roll. Photo by Nicola Dracoulis

 


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Image Credit: Shepparton News/Nicola Dracoulis

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