WHEN Edensor Park’s Thay Lim established the Australian Chinese Youth Sports Federation 12 years ago, he did it with the aim of helping local young people.
His work has now been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the Chinese community of south-west Sydney.
Mr Lim said the importance of helping young people get off the streets should not be understated.
‘‘I came to Australia from the war-torn country Cambodia in 1980 and when I came here I was really happy to be here so I wanted to give back to the Australian community by helping others,’’ he said.
‘‘So I started the Australian Chinese Youth Sports Federation, giving kids the opportunity to occupy their time with table tennis, watching TV and doing free fitness and self-defence classes after school.’’
At the organisation’s inception in 2002, the centre attracted only five youths.
But after 12 years it has grown with more than 180 young people and 190 adults using its free services.
‘‘We also teach them martial arts and lion dancing, and we hold karaoke here as well,’’ Mr Lim said.
Mr Lim has also contributed to the Australian community by donating money to the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick and Fairfield Hospital, as well as to the NSW Bushfire Appeal fund in 2003.
His daughter Lisa Tran said her father held fund-raisers for aged care centres in Bonnyrigg, as well as doing voluntary work for them.
‘‘Dad was very worthy of this prestigious award,’’ she said.
‘‘He was so happy to receive it — especially because it’s the first time he has ever received an award like this.’’
Mr Lim is the deputy president of the Australian Chinese and Descendants Mutual Association.
He has been the honorary chairman of the Australian Cambodian Chinese Association for many years and is the honorary president of the Australian Chinese Teo Chew Association.