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On Tuesday, 20 March 2018, Human Appeal Australia hosted its 11th Annual Year 12 Muslim Achievement Awards in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne over the previous two weekends. Year 12 students who achieved an ATAR score or equivalent of 90% or more in 2017 were invited to register for the awards. Various respected members of the community, school principals, politicians, businesses and family members attended ceremonies in the five cities. An incredible two hundred and forty-nine students, sixty more than last year, were honoured for their hard work and awarded certificates of recognition, laptops and various other prizes.

The five separate ceremonies started off in Perth on Friday 9th March with the city hosting the awards for the first time. Amazingly, nineteen students were awarded on the night with Shady Fouda and Hissen Marouff co-MCing the proceedings. Human Appeal Australia’s Director, Bashar Al-Jamal welcomed guests and was pleased to introduce the establishment of the new branch in Perth. The Hon. Sue Ellery MLC, WA Minister for Education and Training spoke on the night congratulating students on their magnificent achievements. Other speakers included Abdullah Khan, Executive Principal of the Australian Islamic College in Perth; Hon Alison Xamon MLC, Member for North Metropolitan Region; Hon. Martin Prichard MLC, North Metropolitan Region; Imam Yahya Ibrahim, Assistant-Principal of Langford Islamic College; Dr Asrarur Rahman Talukder, President of the Islamic Practice and Dawah Circle; Mr Peter Rudrum, Associate Principal of Canning Vale College; Karim Elgawady, Leadership Umrah Tour 2018 participant and Raisa Anwar, award recipient. Sameh Elgawady, the Perth Branch Manager, spoke about Human Appeal’s Leadership Alumni and the exciting launch of the University Scholarship Program with applications closing on Friday 30th March 2018. He also thanked the guests for coming.

Brisbane was next on Saturday 10th March honouring seventeen students, ten more than last year. Branch Manager of the Brisbane office, Imam Akram Buksh welcomed guests and spoke of the importance of recognising both outstanding effort as well as achievement. The ceremony was MC’d by Ali Kadri, from the Islamic Council of Queensland, who ensured that the program ran smoothly. Professor Shahjahan Khan from the University of Southern Queensland spoke about significant Muslim contributions in the past and the need to replicate these achievements in the future. Other speakers included Dr Ray Barrett, Principal of the Islamic College of Brisbane who spoke about “aspire, inspire, before you expire”; Imam Yusuf Peer, Council of Imams Queensland; Tamim Islam, award recipient and Dr Zac Matthews, Human Appeal Leadership Alumni. Noorudeen Alsabawi, a participant of the 2018 Leadership Umrah Tour spoke about the emotional experience of distributing aid to struggling Syrian refugees in Jordan. Three videos were shown including Human Appeal’s 27-Year History, Leadership Umrah Tour 2018 and Winter Aid Distribution 2018.

On Sunday 11th March the ceremony in Sydney awarded the largest number of students with a total of one-hundred and sixteen recognised. The event was co-MC’d by Aishah Ali, a 2016 award recipient and Omar Al-Jamal, a Leadership Umrah Tour 2015 participant. Human Appeal Australia’s Director, Bashar Al-Jamal welcomed guests and explained that: “Investing in education is an important strategy to empower communities.” Various speeches were given by The Hon. Julie Owens, Federal Member for Parramatta; Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, the Grand Mufti of Australia (at the time); Bruce Rixon, Principal of Malek Fahd Islamic School, and Moustafa Kheir, a sponsor from Birchgrove Legal. Award recipient Fahaad Ahmed spoke passionately about the challenges of pursuing success and Karim Aggag spoke about his participation in Human Appeal’s 2018 Aspiring Leaders Umrah Tour. Dr Zac Matthews outlined Human Appeal’s Leadership Alumni as well as the inaugural University Scholarship program, with a total of six scholarships valued at $6,000 each on offer to award recipients. The national scholarships are generously co-sponsored by local businesses and organisations. Overall the night was filled with a warm atmosphere of celebration and joy.

In Adelaide, seven students were awarded on Saturday 17th March. Branch Manager of Human Appeal’s Adelaide office, Ali Kadir welcomed guests and highlighted the organisation’s goal of encouraging and motivating outstanding achievement which would benefit the country. The Hon. Mayor of the City of Charles Sturt (which holds South Australia’s largest Muslim demographic), Angela Evans spoke about the social effect of education on the community. Other speakers included the former Deputy Mayor of Adelaide and Chairman of the Council of Australia-Arab Relations, Councillor Houssam Abiad who said it was great to see the achievements of future leaders; Sheikh Mohamed El Sayid, from the Australian Islamic College Adelaide; Shihab Siddiquee, founder and director of Sace Simplified, a high level student tutoring organisation; Leadership Umrah Tour 2018 participant, Shamil Jamion and award recipient Nadia Al-Daghestani. The ceremony was MC’d by Mohammed Hassan, Human Appeal Adelaide.

In Melbourne, on Sunday 18th March, ninety students were awarded (including one student from Queensland who is currently studying in Melbourne). Sheikh Rabih Baytie, Human Appeal’s Melbourne Branch Manager welcomed guests and acknowledged the important role that parents and guardians played in the achievements of their children. Other speakers included The Hon. Judith Graley MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Education; Waleed Aly, The Project; Bachar Houli, Richmond Football Club; Dr Abdul Rahman Ihdayhid, Monash Heart; Dr Samantha Ratnam, Leader of the Victorian Greens; Prof. Akhtar Kalam, MCCA and Ramzi Elsayed, Islamic Council of Victoria. In addition, award recipients Hafsah Brown and Esad Corhodzic spoke eloquently of their experiences achieving ATARs of 90+. Another recipient, Saad Ashraf read a poem that he had written about the Year 12 experience. Yusuf Hassan also spoke passionately about his participation in the Aspiring Leaders Umrah Your 2018. The MC Ahmed Abouzeid, who managed to promote a joyous mood throughout the lengthy program, thanked the audience for their attendance. One audience member remarked: “I enjoyed hearing the students speak and relaying what this award meant to them.”

Overall, the five ceremonies held in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, were a fantastic opportunity for parents and communities to celebrate with happiness the proud achievements of these amazing 249 individuals. “Human Appeal Australia congratulates all the Year 12 students of 2017 who put in their best efforts. A special vote of thanks goes to the generous businesses and organisations that sponsored the 11th Annual Year 12 Muslim Achievement Awards of 2018,” said Bashar Al-Jamal.

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