UniSA duo finalists in Australian of the Year Awards
Recognised for inspiring hope and making a difference
Two UniSA alumni who have turned personal tragedy into movements of hope and change have been selected as national finalists for the 2016 Australian of the Year Awards.
Arman Abrahimzadeh, who graduated from UniSA with a Bachelor of Interior Architecture in 2010, was named 2016 Young South Australian of the Year for his work campaigning against domestic violence as White Ribbon Ambassador and as co-founder, with his two sisters, of the Zahra Foundation.
Established earlier this year through the help of Central Domestic Violence Service, the Zahra Foundation Australia was created in honour of Arman’s loving mother Zahra, and works to support women and children experiencing domestic violence and to inspire hope and optimism in their lives through educational programs and economic support.
Arman, who along with his campaign work runs his own construction and design firm, says he is honoured by the award and hopes that through it he can continue to make a difference.
“I’ve dedicated this award to my mum, if it wasn’t for her and what has happened to her, I wouldn’t be here in this space speaking out, and I also dedicate it to everyone who has been fighting for this cause for so long – they do such fantastic work and if it wasn’t for them who knows where we’d be right now,” Arman says.
“Domestic violence is something that needs to be discussed in society, and only now has the spotlight been shone on the subject. The conversation has started and we can’t give up.”
Another often silent subject in society in need of greater awareness is stillbirth, which affects over 2000 families a year in Australia.
After losing her daughter Alfie through stillbirth, UniSA alumna Claire Foord decided to speak out and raise awareness in the hope that other babies could be saved. Claire has been awarded the 2016 South Australian Local Hero award for founding Still Aware, which educates mothers on how ‘counting the kicks’ can monitor whether their baby is in distress.
“Still Aware is about empowering women and their babies to communicate with each other – the whole idea is about fighting for your baby’s survival – it’s so simple and yet there’s so much we don’t know about stillbirth, so we focus on awareness,” Claire says.
“It’s a bittersweet award for me, it’s exceptionally validating of what we’re trying to achieve and is important that we have been given a voice, that Alfie has been given a voice.”
Claire, who graduated from UniSA in 2012 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Painting), is currently working on a new collection of artwork to be exhibited in 2016.
“I’ve been working on it for quite some time, obviously it’s dedicated to Alfie – she’s really changed my life.”
Both Arman and Claire will travel to Canberra to join finalists from across the country for the National Australian of the Year Awards to be held on 25 January 2016.