NICOSIA — The former long-standing leader of the major multicultural agencies of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), Stepan Kerkyasharian, has been awarded the Medal of Outstanding Contribution by the president of Cyprus. The medal was presented on July 28 in Nicosia at the World Conference of the Cyprus Diaspora by President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.
The presidential citation of the medal to Kerkyasharian (AO, Hon.D.Litt.), who was born and raised in Cyprus, states: “You make us in Cyprus feel extremely proud of you.”
It continued: “You have worked tirelessly, with perseverance and determination and you have achieved an important career path, as an outstanding leader, recognised for your pivotal role in fostering multiculturalism in Australia.
“You have championed debate and policy change to improve the well-being of under-represented communities on issues like religious practices, immigration law, refugee settlement, migrant qualifications and community relationships thus becoming a major influence in shaping community harmony.
“Through your work, your exceptional achievements, the core values and principles that you exemplify as a person, and most notably your long-standing contribution to the Cypriot Community in Australia, you became a pioneer in giving migrant voices a national platform.”
Speaking from Nicosia, Kerkyasharian who was the foundation head of the Special Broadcasting Service’s Radio Division from 1979 to 1988 and chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission (formerly Ethnic Affairs Commission) from 1989 to 2014 said, “It is a privilege and at the same time greatly humbling to be honoured by the country, the people and the president of the country which has given me life and which opened its arms and accepted my orphaned parents who had survived the Armenian Genocide.”