The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) has recognised an organisation founded by a La Trobe alumnus as the Organisation of the Year.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), founded by Kon Karapanagiotidis, has received the LIV Community Lawyer or Organisation of the Year Award.
Kon, who holds a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences and Bachelor of Law from La Trobe, is no stranger to awards, thanks to his work as CEO with the ASRC.
He received an Order of Australia Medal in 2011, a La Trobe University Young Achiever Award in 2011 and a Churchill Fellowship in 2010. He was also a finalist for Australian of the Year (Victoria) in 2007, was voted one of Australia's twenty Unsung Heroes and was chosen as one of Melbourne's 100 Most Influential People in The Age Melbourne Magazine.
Personal experience inspires action
Kon's passion for human rights emerged from his personal experiences of racism and of witnessing the exploitation his migrant parents faced in factory work.
In 2001, he founded the ASRC as a small food bank in Footscray. Since then, it has grown to become Australia's largest provider of aid, advocacy and health services for asylum seekers.
The centre has 40 full time staff and over 800 volunteers who deliver services to more than 1,200 asylum seekers at any one time. Since it began, it has helped more than 10,000 people.
A leader in the field
Speaking of his experiences at the ASRC, LIV President Geoff Bowyer said, 'I did a course to become an accredited migration agent at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in 1998. I was struck by the depth of volunteering and the thoroughness and quality of assistance provided to asylum seekers.
'The work the Centre has done assisting asylum seekers throughout the entire refugee determination process, and their consistent lobbying for Australia's adherence to the United Nations refugee convention, makes them a leader in their field and deserving winners.'
La Trobe Law School, which is renowned for its commitment to social justice and community engagement, congratulates Kon on his outstanding achievement.