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  • Writer's pictureAffy Bhatti

Five Great Australian Immigrants, and how they blessed Australia

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

five great australian immigrants

Australia has a remarkable history of giving immigrants opportunities. Whether it's those who immigrate with their parents as children, flee persecution as refugees, or come later on in life as students or professional workers and then stay, Australian history is filled with stories of immigrants achieving business and community success.

If you’re in Victoria, there is an excellent Immigration Museum that is dedicated to sharing the stories of these people. If you’re looking for an understanding of just how blessed we are to have immigrants in Australia, this museum will help articulate that.

Here is just a tiny cross-section of immigrants who have become community or business leaders in Australia:

Amar Singh
Source: Australian of the Year Awards

Amar Singh

Amar Singh, a baptised Sikh, originally from India, has faced his fair share of discrimination due to his appearance, including the turban and growing a beard. These visible symbols of his faith have made him and his Sikh community easy targets for abuse and prejudice, however, rather than allow this to distress him, he instead saw the good in Australia and realised that the community simply needed better awareness of the good in Sikh people.

Amar's response to the discrimination he faced was to launch a charity, called Turbans 4 Australia. That charity has since been seen on the site of every disaster (including the bushfires), and anywhere where people need a helping hand – from fleeing domestic violence to living rough on the streets.

These days, the Sikh community have become a respected and beloved part of Australia, and Amar’s work has been central to that. In 2023 he won the Australian of the Year Local Hero award for all his efforts.

Rosemary Kariuki
Source: Rosemary's Way

Rosemary Kariuki

Rosemary Kariuki is another Australian of the Year recipient. In her case, the award was for her tireless work as a dedicated multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Police – one of the most multicultural areas in Australia. In her role, Rosemary assists immigrants facing difficulty with domestic violence, language barriers, and financial distress.

Rosemary's own journey to Australia in 1999, escaping family abuse and tribal conflicts in Kenya, gave her firsthand experience of the isolation and loneliness that many migrants encounter. Bringing her personal experience to the police force, Rosemary has become a true lifeline for other migrant women. Thanks to Rosemary’s support, migrant women have felt empowered to overcome feelings of isolation and participate in their new Australian communities.

One of Rosemary's biggest achievements in chasing this goal has been the African Women's Dinner Dance, which has been running for 14 years and attracts more than 400 women annually. She was also involved with the African Village Market – a successful program that helped many migrants start their own businesses.

Harry Triguboff
Source: Meriton Group

Harry Triguboff

Harry Oskar Triguboff AO, born on 3 March 1933, is an inspiration for the idea that Australia is a nation of opportunity for immigrants. Born in China to Russian-Jewish parents, Harry came to Australia as a refugee and now, “high-rise Harry,” is the founder and managing director of Meriton and one of the nation’s wealthiest people.

In addition to the philanthropy work that he does – Harry is well known for his support of the Australian Red Cross, the Heart Research Institute, Westmead Children’s Hospital, and the Sydney National Cancer Foundation, among others - he is also an outspoken supporter of immigration to Australia and the value that immigrants bring the nation.

Harry Triguboff
Source: The Daily Telegraph

Eddie Woo

Eddie Woo is a well-known voice and presence in Australian education. Most know Eddie best as the person behind “Wootube,” an educational resource for both children and teachers. Eddie immigrated to Australia from Malaysia at a young age and went through the local education system. As a teacher himself, he realised the value of digital media when he started filming his classes in 2012 for the benefit of a sick student.

Taking that idea public, Eddie’s YouTube channel gained over 1.74 million subscribers and more than 156.57 million views worldwide as of July 2023. In addition to his teaching career, Woo has published two books: “Woo’s Wonderful World of Maths” and "Eddie Woo’s Magical Maths". In recognition of the impact that these videos have had, Eddie was given the Australia’s Local Hero Award.

Akram Azimi
Source: The University of Western Australia

Akram Azimi

Akram Azimi was born in war-torn Afghanistan and, with his family, fled the conflict, having to leave everything behind in the hope that they could find a new home. They were blessed to win what he describes as a “global lottery” when they received a visa to Australia in 1999. With the help of his high school teachers, he became his school’s top academic student and was later elected head boy. From there he went on to excel at university as well, successfully studying law (Hons), science, and sociology (Hons) at the University of Western Australia.

He has taught law, human anatomy, neurobiology, sociology, epistemology, community service, and writing at three universities and two high schools, but what makes Akram’s story all the more impactful is what he has committed to his community. Among many things, he co-founded “I Am the Other”, a reconciliation initiative for First Nations Australians, and he has been a mentor for True Blue Dreaming, a rural and remote educational program. All of this work has had a significant impact on thousands of people, and because of that, Akram was an easy choice to receive the Young Australian of the Year award in 2013. He has since used the profile that the award gave him to continue to look for ways to inspire people and target pressing challenges for disadvantaged communities – for example, he has been instrumental in raising millions for Polio research.

From Australians of the Year to business moguls, and from those who work in grassroots communities to powerful advocates in the public sphere, Australia would not be the blessed place that it is without the tireless work of our immigrants. Many come here in difficult, if not desperate circumstances, and what they can achieve is nothing short of inspiring.


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