Humbled by medal honour

honour 23-1-19 Africam Leader Haileluel Gebre-Selassie in Sunshine

By Ewen McRae

By Ewen McRae

Nearly 27 years after migrating to Australia, Caroline Springs’ Haileluel Gebre-Selassie has been awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day honours.

Mr Gebre-Selassie, 48, received the medal for service to the African community of Victoria, but he downplayed the honour when he spoke to Star Weekly.

“I’m honoured, but at the same time humbled,” he said. “There are so many people who achieve a lot of stuff more than me I believe … I’m happy to be acknowledged, but I don’t do things just for this.”

Originally from Ethiopia, Mr Gebre-Selassie, the son a of a priest, migrated to Australia in 1992, receiving Australian citizenship four years later.

He has been actively involved in the community across Melbourne, but has lived in Caroline Springs for the past 14 years.

Among his many roles, he is a founding member and current chairperson of the African Think Tank, convenor of the Victorian Police African Australian Communities Task Force, initiated and now chairs the African Leadership Development Program and is board member of the Brimbank Melton Local Learning Employment Network.

“The past 10 years, one of my big focuses has been growing the capacity for leaders within the African community,” he said.

“We’ve graduated more than 240 community leaders across many countries. The idea is like a small boat in the high seas. When you see a boat in the high seas you need to stabalise that to save the lives of those in the boat … the different communities are like that boat within this beautiful, big country, which is the seas.

“I’m really excited and very happy with what we’ve been able to achieve.”

Mr Gebre-Selassie paid tribute to his wife, Hamere, and daughters Loza and Salem for their support.