Campaigner says award a big honour

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

The Southern Aboriginal Corporation has gone from strength to strength thanks to Albany citizen of the year Asha Bhat.

Ms Bhat moved to Albany in 2008 with her husband and son, and since then she has been an avid supporter and campaigner for the region’s Aboriginal community.

Ms Bhat was one of 23 finalists for the Australia Day honour last Thursday.

“I was deeply honoured and humbled to be able to receive that recognition,” she said.

“I just believe in empowering Aboriginal people.

“We want to build resilience in the community and it can be a slow process but we can build it.”

The former mathematics teacher moved to Australia from the coastal region of southern India in 2004 and said the similarity between her heritage and Aboriginal culture was one of the driving forces behind her community commitment.

“The passion that I have for the Aboriginal community, I wanted to know more about them,” she said.

“I see some similarity in Indian culture.

“The family values, the yarning, they have an informal way of dealing with business and we do have a similar sort of thing.

“That attracted me more and I felt like it was home — Albany was home.”

Ms Bhat, who is now the SAC chief executive, said she hoped this recognition would inspire other migrants to achieve their goals.

“People that come here as a migrant have to go the extra mile and know about the culture of the country, the people, working style and updating their skills are important,” she said.

“People can have hope and follow their dreams but they need to have that focus.”

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