Parsuram Sharma-Luital JP, a Bhutanese-Australian father of three, has become a recipient of the inaugural New Australia of the Year, which is considered to be one of the Australia’s prestigious awards given to a significant nominee on the occasion of Australia Day every year.
He received the award during the Victorian Australia Day Council dinner in Melbourne, Thursday.
Luital was selected by a panel appointed by the Council that considered and reviewed nominations of people who have lived in Australia for 18 years or less and have significant contributions from all across Australia.
“The award sends a positive message that Australia is one more step ahead of multiculturalism,” Luital told Bhutan News Service over phone.
Initially, he didn’t believe the announcement of the award in his name. Later, he felt his contribution to the community was recognized in a short span of time.
“I couldn’t believe about the award at first. When I confirmed, I felt wow! I am really excited that my voluntary works have been recognized and honored by Australia,” said he, adding, “I thank the people and Government of Australia for recognizing my small contribution to this country in the span of 12 years.”
Luital arrived in Australia in 2002, and became new Australian in 2008.
Speaking at the award ceremony, the horticulturist Bhutanese-Australian has asked the government to opt “flexibility” regarding immigration laws that punish “innocent people”.
Australian media reports said Luital, who works as New and Emerging Communities Liaison Officer at the North West Metro Region of Victoria Police, sternly urged the Australian government to repair its record of “punishing innocent people” with heavy-handed asylum seeker policies.
“Tackle the people smugglers and punish them, not innocent people,” added Luital, who has become able to establish a noticeable status among advocators of immigration, refugee and human rights issues.
Paul Power, Chief Executive Officer at the Refugee Council of Australia, commented that the award was an acknowledgement of Luital’s contribution to Australian society and will, over the next 12 months, give him a greater capacity to raise issues for new migrants and refugees in Australia.
“As this is the inaugural award, Parsu will be encouraged to promote interest in the award in future years,” Power wrote in his email response to BNS.
“I was pleased to nominate Parsu for this award as he has made a very impressive contribution to Australia in a variety of ways – in horticulture through the promotion of new methods of mushroom cultivation, in support of newly arrived refugees through his paid work with AMES and his many voluntary roles, in the promotion of multiculturalism in Australia through many volunteer efforts and in promoting police-community roles in his current paid role,” added he.
Luital has worked voluntarily with the Refugee Council of Australia over the past four years in taking international issues about refugees and asylum seekers to UNHCR’s annual NGO consultations and to meetings with senior leaders of UNHCR.
He has established himself as one of the most active and vocal Bhutanese in the diaspora. He is also the recipient of the Victorian Refugee Recognition Record Award (2009), and Multicultural Award for Excellence for Outstanding Service to the Community (2010 & 2012).
In separate occasions, Luital called on former Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres last year to raise issues of immigrants and refugees. He also hosted the Victoria’s largest multicultural festival. He is the founding and immediate past president of the Bhutanese Organization in Australia, advisory committee chair of the New and Emerging Communities Advisory Committee of Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA), convener of New and Emerging Communities and board member of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV), Active Member of Rotary Club of Coburg, community ambassador of the Australian Football League (AFL) Multicultural Program, Asia Cup 2015 community ambassador, and White Ribbon Ambassador of the Fighting Violence Against Women.