On 26 January 2022, Marlon DeLeon and Tara Tran won the Citizen of the Year Awards at the Brimbank Australia Day Awards Ceremony. The awards recognised Marlon and Tara’s exceptional contribution and outstanding service to the local community.
Marlon leads the Filipino Community Council of Victoria, which supports the Filipino-Australian community with aged care programs, emergency food relief, international student support, digital support programs and promotion of the Filipino-Australian culture.
Tara leads the VietLove not-for-profit community group which has supported more than three thousand community members. The group provides English classes, legal assistance and mental support for the vulnerable especially victims of domestic violence.
Meet the winners
We caught up with Marlon and Tara to see how they felt about receiving the award and what they’ve been up to since. Here’s what they had to say.
As a volunteering community leader, I am really happy to be helping so many people in the community and to be recognised for this through a Citizen of the Year Award. It was a big surprise for me. Achieving the award made me feel more challenged, but also extra inspired to achieve more.
Improving the Filipino Community Council of Victoria Inc., has been our biggest achievement, especially since I became President.
We now own the Filipino Hub − our very own community facility. This has allowed us to deliver more diverse services, including:
- Aged Care Programs
- Emergency Relief/Food Program
- Study Melbourne Inclusion Program
- Digital Support Programs
- Promotionof the Filipino-Australian culture.
People can visit our website for all the details.
I hope to see further community centres open around Melbourne to reach more people needing our help. A new Filipino community hub is currently being built in Epping. Hopefully we can build more in the South Eastern suburbs and regional centres.
We are also pleased the Filipino Hub in Brooklyn was recently accepted as a member of the Neighbourhood Houses Association of Victoria. We want to deliver more services through the hub, including training, youth services, women’s and family support, employment services, and much more.
The community is also dreaming of opening our first aged care facility in the near future that’s fully-owned by the Filipino Community.
I am proud this award has enabled me to attend many citizenship ceremonies, programs and events, including several media interviews. I am happy to share my experience and serve as an inspiration to other migrants. It’s an honour that our contribution to Australian society is being appreciated and recognised, not only in Brimbank but elsewhere in Australia.
I felt honoured when I heard my name announced for the Citizen of the Year Award. It was a beautiful feeling that words cannot describe.
I support my community because I see things that can be done to help people around me. I didn’t expect anything in return. This award is invaluable to me and my community. I truly believe the Award belongs to everyone in the community not just me. Without the community members, the supporters, the volunteers and staff members from our VietLove team, I would not have been awarded Citizen of the Year. I thank everyone for their support and dedication to our project.
Since receiving the Award, I’ve been invited to many events in the community. It’s a great experience engaging with the community and expanding my skills and knowledge to support them more effectively.
I have also achieved recognition and respect from community members, and have been granted more projects to support the community.
I am now focussing on many different projects to reconnect the community with the support and services available to them. If anyone needs help, they can contact our organisation to receive all kinds of supports. We are also recruiting volunteers and welcome everyone to reach out to us, reconnect with the community, and achieve a good sense of belonging.
In the future I want to expand our organisation to support more community projects. I am working harder and really hope I can achieve the Citizen of the Year Award nationally.
I want to encourage everyone to get involved with our organisation. We can always use more help and all contributions are well appreciated.
Remember, when you want to achieve something, start with small steps, take things slowly and hang on to your dream. If you struggle along the way, reach out for support. I am sure there are plenty of people with big hearts who are willing to help.
Visit Council’s website for more on all our Australia Day winners.