Melbourne: Indian-origin Sikh Amar Singh has been honoured with the New South Wales Australian of the Year award for supporting the community impacted by floods, bushfires, drought and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Singh, 41, is the founder and President of ‘Turbans 4 Australia’ — a charity organisation that assists people facing financial hardship, food insecurity, homelessness and those impacted by natural calamities.
“Our President and Founder was named NSW Local Hero this week! We are beyond proud of you Amar,” Turbans 4 Australia tweeted last week.
Singh, who was awarded in the Local Hero category, founded the charity in 2015 after experiencing racial slurs and insults because of his Sikh turban and beard, a New South Wales (NSW) government release stated.
“A co-worker once told me I looked like a terrorist. While simply going about my daily life, strangers on the street have asked me if I’m carrying a bomb, or what I’m hiding under my turban,” Singh, a strong advocate of multiculturalism and interfailth dialogue, said.
“I wanted Australians to see Sikhs as people they could trust and turn to in times of need,” he added.
Singh, who moved to Australia as a teenager, said that he has been very passionate about community service from a younger age.
Every week, Singh and his organisation package and distribute up to 450 food and grocery hampers to people experiencing food insecurity in Western Sydney.
They have also delivered hay to farmers experiencing drought; supplies to flood victims in Lismore and bushfire-impacted people on the South Coast; and food hampers to the isolated and vulnerable during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Singh and his group are also teaching people in cities across Australia about the Sikh community via their Turban Fest events.
“By tying turbans on people’s heads, we create an opportunity to chat with our fellow Australians and show them that our turbans and beards are nothing to fear,” Singh said in his community website.
He was awarded Member of the Order of Liverpool (Honorary) in 2021.
In the past, Singh has volunteered during the Sydney 2000 Olympic games, Invictus games, and Gold Coast commonwealth games.
Since its inception in 1960, the Australian of the Year awards honour an exceptional group of highly-respected Australians who ignite discussion and change on issues of national importance.
Apart from Singh, there are four other recipients of the award from NSW, who will come together with awardees from other states for the national awards ceremony in Canberra on January 25, 2023.