Media Release

September 9, 2009

A former Sudanese refugee who has used his experiences to shape his work at a Melbourne community organisation, has been named the winner of the 2009 Alcoa Foundation Outstanding Community Worker Award.

Mathew Bul, a case worker at the New Hope Foundation in Footscray, was chosen from an outstanding crop of 137 nominees from all over the country.

Mathew, who arrived from Sudan in 2000, works to help migrants and refugees in the western suburbs of Melbourne to realise their hopes of building a new life in a new country. Mathew's colleagues, who submitted the nomination, praised his dedication, commitment, teamwork and willingness to go over and above the call of duty.

The Alcoa Foundation Outstanding Community Worker Award is designed to recognise and celebrate the vital contribution made by the men and women who work in Australian community groups. Any paid worker from any Australian community or not-for-profit organisation can be nominated.

The Award is a joint initiative of the Alcoa Foundation - a not-for-profit corporate foundation with the mission to actively invest in the quality of life of communities surrounding Alcoa's operations around the world - and community group support organisation Our Community.

Nominees this year came from all over the country: from big cities and tiny towns, from large organisations and small, and from every corner of the community sector.

Alcoa's National Partnerships Manager Sarah Fordham said: "At Alcoa, we have an extensive partnership program which focuses on building community capacity and creating stronger communities - those in the community sector play a significant role in achieving both of those things which is why we created this Award.

"It is fair to say that Australian society would be simply unworkable without community workers and Alcoa believes they deserve to be celebrated.

"As Mathew's work exemplifies, our community workers don't do what they do for money or glory -they do it because they care about the world we all live in."

Mathew will receive $5000, which he can spend on his choice of professional capacity-building materials and resources such as education and training, conferences, or books. Each of this year's 137 nominees will receive a certificate to acknowledge the value placed on their important work.

"I'm delighted that Mathew has been selected as the winner of this year's award as it's a great demonstration of the important diversity ethos that runs right through the community sector," Our Community CEO Dr Rhonda Galbally AO said.

"You can't hope to serve refugees properly if you don't have within your organisation the energy, expertise and insight that only a refugee can bring, and the same is true of all kinds of groups."

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