The inaugural Gala Awards Dinner, held at the Mercure Sydney on Wednesday March 13, 2013 by Affinity Intercultural Foundation recognised the contributions of special individuals and organisations who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to promote harmony by reaching out, educating and serving society for the greater good.

These awards have been a part of the Affinity Friendship & Dialogue Iftar dinner from 2004 till 2011 and from now on will be a feature of the annual Affinity Gala Awards Dinner. The dinner’s keynote speech was delivered by the NSW Chief Justice Tom Bathurst QC on the topic of “The Importance of Public Service”.

Affinity Intercultural Foundation’s Executive Director, Ahmet Keskin said “The Chief Justice highlighted the importance of serving the community with an unyielding will and commitment, something that Affinity aspires to in all of its endeavours”.

Ahmet also paid special tribute to the award recipients by saying “It was a privilege to acknowledge individuals and organisations who espouse the common shared values of mutual respect and understanding that leads to acceptance. This year’s award recipients were nominated by the Affinity Advisory Board, who suggested many worthy candidates. It was difficult to choose only one winner per category, when you know that any one of the other nominees warrant the award. On behalf of Affinity, I’d like to offer my congratulations and wish our award recipients ongoing success”.

The recipients of the awards were as follows:
1. Youth Leadership – This award commends exemplary passion, activism and leadership in the promotion of cross-cultural understanding at the youth level.

Winner : Ms Sara Saleh (Amnesty International)

2. Inspirational Educator – This award acknowledges exceptional contribution to the understanding and advocacy of dialogue through education and/or research and the consequent facilitation of harmonious interaction between people of diverse backgrounds.

Winner : Rabbi Zalman Kastel (Together for Humanity Foundation, Founder)

3. Media Integrity – The recipient of this award is commended for outstanding contribution to the promotion of a better understanding and embracement of diversity through integrity, accuracy, objectivity and fairness in the coverage of local and/or international news.

Winner : SBS (received by Mr Paul Cutler, Director of News & Current Affairs)

4. Champion of Harmony – The recipient of this award is recognised for championing dialogue through public discourse and mobilising others to peacefully engage, collaborate and implement the vision of a harmonious society.

Winner : NSW Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas (NSW Police)

5. Affinity Dialogue & Service – The grand award’s recipient is applauded for being a paragon of service through unwavering dedication and altruistic activity to espouse and establish mutual respect, understanding and acceptance between members of Australian society.

Winner : Dr Jeff McMullen AM (Honorary CEO of Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth, Director of Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience & Trustee of the Jimmy Little Foundation)