FAIRFIELD City Farm was bursting with families celebrating the spirit of Australia Day on Monday. The true multicultural tone of the day was set immediately with a welcome to the country from Aunty Mary Allen, a traditional welcome song from the Koori Kids and performances from the Southern Cross Bush Band. Fairfield Citizen of the Year for 2009 is Assyrian Church of the East bishop of Australia and New Zealand, His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia AM, who established St Hurmizd Primary School in Greenfield Park, the first Assyrian school outside the Assyrian homeland.
“This award gives me a sense of working for the whole community, not just the Assyrian church,” Mr Zaia said. “I aim always to make the younger generation feel first their responsibility of being Australian. In encouraging them to finish their higher education and be active members of their community, there needs to be a sense of contributing back to the whole country”. Young Citizen of the Year is Tania Tu Phuong Huynh, 19, who, while studying business and law at the University of Technology, Sydney, is on the board of the Fairfield Business Education Partnership and established ‘We Can-Vas’ in 2007, which links youth to government grants as incentive for engagement in the community. ”I often find while incentives get young people out and volunteering, they’re soon coming back out of love for the job,” Ms Huynh said. “Life is all about meeting people, learning skills and trying new things, and it makes me sad that some young people just don’t know how to get involved.”
Emanuele Fuamatu is Fairfield Sports Achiever of the Year for his achievements at school, state, national and international levels in shot put, discus and hammer throw. His father Joe received the award on his behalf. English Channel swimmer and fund-raiser Kaise Stephan received a special plaque alongside CWA, Salvation Army and hospital volunteer Patricia Pamela Vallett. Fourteen residents received medallions for their contributions to Fairfield. Residents also heard from Australia Day ambassador Rachel Coxon, who is completing a PhD in biomedical engineering.
A finalist for the 2008 NSW Young Australian of the Year award, Ms Coxon urged people to take on leadership roles, saying: “Each of us experiences obstacles to becoming a leader, but we each have something inside us that will push past those to achieve our goals.”[nggallery id=63]