Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) founder and chief executive Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM has been awarded Melburnian of the year by Melbourne council.
Mr Karapanagiotidis’ list of accomplishments is large and impressive, in addition to founding the largest independent refugee organisation in Australia, he is also a qualified Lawyer, Social Worker and Teacher.
The Moonee Valley local is the son of Greek migrants and the grandson of Pontian refugees, as a self described activist Mr Karapanagiotidis said he is proud to stand up for a multicultural Melbourne.
“I love our great city and I am proud to celebrate my work which has been a lifetime spent welcoming refugees,” he said.
The Melburnian of the Year is described as an inspirational role model who has made an outstanding contribution to the city in their chosen field, as well as a significant impact to the Melbourne community.
As well as championing refugee rights, Mr Karapanagiotidis said he is passionate about his three decades worth of work for women’s rights and speaking out about ending male violence against women, survivors and First Nations peoples rights.
Mr Karapanagiotidis has volunteered for 26 different charities, spanning more than 30 years of volunteer work in the community.
With the help of an incredibly dedicated team, his work for the ASRC with has raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars in fundraising helping more than 30,000 people seeking asylum and refugees.
Mr Karapanagiotidis hopes that this award will bring awareness to the ASRC and continue to encourage Melburnians to work together to be a place that welcomes refugees and migrants.
“I hope this brings more awareness to the continued struggles, challenges and justices that refugees face,” he said.
Over the next 12 months Mr Karapanagiotidis said he will use his platform to talk about ways to work together to make sure that no one is left behind, ensuring that everyone has compassion, humanity and decency.
“As a community I think it’s really important that we don’t forget each other’s humanity, we need to look out for one another and be hopeful, positive, kind and compassionate towards each other.”