The 14th Australian Muslim Achievement Awards (AMAA) were held this year simultaneously in four states of Australia still under COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday 28 November 2020.
The venue for the Sydney part of the event was the Culinary School in Punchbowl MC’d by Sara Saleh and Nazeem Hussain while the event in Melbourne was held at the Islamic Museum of Australia.
The annual event founded and hosted by Mission of Hope led by Ms Hanan Dover and its current President Ms Nasreen Hanifi recognises the outstanding contributions made by Australian Muslim men, women, organisations and businesses and celebrating their performance, achievements and success.
The Australian Muslim Achievement Awards raises the profile of Australian Muslims who are serving both the mainstream and Australian Muslim communities excelling in many areas of influence.
The diverse range of nominees, finalists and winners were selected through a strict criterion in each category by panels of judges from across Australia making the 2020 nominations most competitive in the 14-year history of the awards.
Commenting at the large number of nominations and finalist, Ms Hanan Dover said, “Through meaningful and active participation our finalists have excelled in fostering the nation’s growth and wellbeing.”
“Australian Muslims strive consistently to acknowledge the traditional land owners of the nation in which we live, and maintain Australia’s ongoing commitment to multiculturalism,” she further added.
AMAA is not limited to awarding Muslims only for their achievements. This year Abyssinian of the Year award went to Australia’s 40th Socceroo Captain and celebrated broadcaster Craig Foster.
Craig is also known for his human rights and refugee advocacy work where he successfully initiated a global campaign #SaveHakeem to free Bahraini Muslim refugee and fellow footballer Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai prison against severe pressure from the Bahrain government.
While accepting the award, Craig talked about his dream of an Australian society saying, “Here is the dream. The dream is for a country where we are all equal. The dream is for a country where there is no discrimination, no prejudice, no bigotry. The dream is for a country where irrespective of your religion, your nationality, your ethnicity or your beliefs, we are all the same. Dream is for a country where the media does not unfairly attack minority communities and the dream is for a country where the leaders of Australia stand with all our minority communities and call out racism where we see it.”
Talking about the #SaveHakeem campaign, he said, “I said then many times and I continue to say to every Australians and people around the world we had over 30 million stepped forward to help Hakim Al-Arabi and not one of them asked what his religion was, not one of them asked from which country he came, not one of them asked whether he is refugee or not. We saw him as a human being and as a brother and that’s why we fought for him. And that is the dream for Australia.”
This years Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Canberra based high profile community leader, Diana Abdel-Rahman OAM.
Talking about the change during the last 30 years and the achievements of the Muslim community, Diana said, “To receive a lifetime achievement award, I thought about the concept of life time and of course the achievements. What happens in receiving this type of an award is what we see along the way. The people that we meet and those who are achieving and those successes along the way.”
“I have seen a time when being a Muslim for seeing to be exotic, Believe it. People didn’t know much about it. I also saw a time when Australia went to war overseas and that changed and I watched from 1990 onward a change in the faith, of the minority as we are and how we became and how we were treated. The challenge in the community has been enormous. I think to see today such an achievement here, now that we have persevered and we have succeeded,” Diana said.
Commenting on her activism based in the capital of Australia, she said, “I am an activist and wouldn’t shy away that I stood up there and fought for the voice for the voiceless. It is something that I read many many years ago about, if you have an opportunity to say something you must use your voice. We stood there, in front of the Israeli embassy and we have said free free Palestine. We have stood in front of the US embassy fighting for those overseas who do not have the voice, for the people of Afghanistan, of Kashmir, of Lebanon, of Palestine.
AMAA 2020 was sponsored by Tender Loving Care Disability Services (Platinum), The Culinary School (Gold), Acacia Design (Bronze), while the interstate event hosts were Islamic Museum of Australia, Muslim Youth of Western Australia and Islamic Care, Queensland.