Bonnyrigg man honoured for service to the Muslim community and interfaith relations

Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad. Picture: Jumanah Ahmad.

Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad. Picture: Jumanah Ahmad.

Doctor Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad has won many awards for his service to the community and now he can add another notch to his belt.

The Bonnyrigg man has been named as a recipient of a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in this year's Australia Day Honours List.

Dr Ahmad is known throughout the region for his work within the Muslim community and for his service to interfaith relations.

He said it was an honour to receive an OAM for his work.

"I feel very honoured but also glad that the tradition of recognising community leaders and volunteers is alive and well because they are backbone of a cohesive society," Dr Ahmad said.

"Community-based ventures can't survive without the passion and dedication that volunteers bring.

"Whilst government services are very important, community-based delivery of some of those services achieves a lot more than throwing lots of money can ever do.

"This is a value that I sought to instil in my family - that whilst excelling in their profession is important, they aren't complete without the free time, effort and money they contribute for the betterment of the community."

Dr Ahmad said some of his biggest achievements have been workin g with like-m inded people, including his family, to establish the national bodies for Muslims both in Australia and Papua New Guinea, student organisations, interfaith bodies and the Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair, which is run annually in Fairfield.

The 90-year-old said he had loved living in Australia since he arrived in 1970.

"When I came to Australia to do my PhD at the University of Sydney, I was overwhelmed by the support and friendship shown to me by Australians, including our original inhabitants and owners of the land, those with European ancestry and more recent migrants," he said.

"I knew very early that Australia would be our new home."

Dr Ahmad said he didn't know who nominated him for an OAM.

"The person has not revealed themselves to me but still I can be and am grateful for their acknowledgement and effort for making the nomination," he said.

"So I would like to say thank you.

"Initially I was perplexed and my inclination was to withdraw.

"However it is important that the history of Muslims in Australia and their efforts to established themselves within the wider community is better known. Through this recognition of my humble efforts I feel this will help in that objective."

Meanwhile Cecil Hills resident Wilma Falcone received a Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to the social housing sector in NSW.

Since joining the NSW government in 1997, Mrs Falcone has dedicated her career to helping vulnerable groups and has been instrumental in the delivery of the Future Directions for Social Housing, a ten year program to drive better outcomes for social housing tenants She is also driving the tenant relocation program for multiple Communities Plus projects, enabling the delivery of up to 23,000 new and replacement social housing dwellings and up to 40,000 private dwellings.