Top award for Moving Forward Together
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Top award for Moving Forward Together

A volunteer organisation chaired by Holocaust survivor Ernie Friedlander has won the top prize – the Stepan Kerkyasharian Harmony Award Medal – at the 2017 Premier’s Harmony Dinner.

From left: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Ernie Friedlander, guest presenter Jay Laga'aia and Stepan Kerkyasharian.
From left: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Ernie Friedlander, guest presenter Jay Laga'aia and Stepan Kerkyasharian.

A VOLUNTEER organisation chaired by Holocaust survivor Ernie Friedlander has won the top prize – the Stepan Kerkyasharian Harmony Award Medal – at the 2017 Premier’s Harmony Dinner.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian personally presented the award to Friedlander on behalf of the Moving Forward Together Association (MFTA) in front of an audience of almost 1500 at Rosehill Racecourse.

“MFTA is run by volunteers who devote their lives to promoting fairness, harmony and respect, and the [organisation’s] Harmony Walks bring people from all walks of life together in the spirit of unity and solidarity,” Berejiklian said.

Three Harmony Walks have been held in the last 12 months in Fairfield, Blacktown and most recently at Campbelltown Stadium during a Wests Tigers home game.

MFTA also runs a very successful statewide harmony poster and songwriting competition, drawing up to 6000 entries from school students each year.

Friedlander told The AJN that MFTA formed in 2005 out of a desire to help make the Alfred Dreyfus Anti-Defamation Unit of B’nai B’rith even “more proactive” in its ongoing work to advocate for tolerance and intercultural understanding.

“It started with just a dream, which then became a vision, and today it’s a reality – one that is really starting to make inroads,” Friedlander said.

Ernie Friedlander (on far right) at the Harmony Walk at half-time of the Wests Tigers’ game at Campbelltown Stadium on March 12.

Asked why he thought MFTA was chosen to win the Harmony Medal, Friedlander said, “All I can tell you is that we probably make an impact which is far above our weight.

“We have a small team of 12 committee members and about 30 volunteers who are passionate contributors that give us lots of energy and ideas.

“It’s very important that we continue doing this work, and we’d like to see more individuals and organisations work with us. A lot more can be achieved.”

The inaugural NSW Human Rights Medal was also presented at the dinner to Karim Habak from the Multicultural Council of Illawarra. This award was established in honour of Raoul Wallenberg.

SHANE DESIATNIK

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