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Abbas Alvi: Volunteering his way into hearts

Indian community leader Abbas Raza Alvi wins NSW Government Community Service Award for his volunteering efforts

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“This award is for the people of western Sydney,” says Abbas Alvi, one of the six winners of the annual NSW Government Community Service Awards announced by the state’s Premier Chris Minns on 20 May during National Volunteer Week (20-26 May 2024).

Awardees at Community Service Awards 2024
Abbas Alvi is one of the six awardees at this year’s NSW Community Service Awards (Source: Supplied)

The winners were chosen to acknowledge and celebrate their significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life of members of their community, and the impact that they have on strengthening it.​

Abbas Alvi was recognised for devoting much of his time to volunteering for multiple initiatives, including facilitating the integration of the 120,000-strong Indian-Muslim community with Australian society and mainstream Indian diaspora.

Speaking to Indian Link, Alvi expressed happiness for being acknowledged, and chose to dedicate the award to the ever-growing South Asian community of Blacktown and western Sydney.

“I felt very happy and honoured to receive this award,” he said.  “It felt even more special because I was the only one among a handful from the Indian community who was in attendance and was recognised. I have been living in Australia since 1989 and have been volunteering my time since the very start for a multitude of initiatives, including improving trade ties between India and Australia, fostering community cohesion and even arts and poetry. This award came as a complete surprise and has pumped me up to keep going. I hope this recognition will inspire others as well.”

Abbas Alvi with Chris Minns at Community Service Awards

He called upon more of the Indian community to come forward and volunteer their time. “For many of us Australia is our karm-bhoomi where we have migrated to for better work opportunities etc. I strongly believe we should all contribute a bit of our time to give back to this wonderful country. There is so much to do – be it helping during natural disasters, fires and floods, health, education, clean-ups, blood donation to name just a few,” Alvi said.

Appreciating the ‘giving’ nature of the Indian community Abbas Alvi observed, “I know so many of us do volunteering or ‘sewa’ at our respective places of worship. It’s part of our nature. It is satisfying and one feels charged up helping others. We are lucky to be in Australia where volunteering is so organised and there are so many opportunities, and I urge more from the south-east Asian community to serve in the mainstream.”

Abbas Alvi appreciated the selfless work being put in by volunteers in Western Sydney. “In many ways, Blacktown and the larger Western Sydney belt has become the hub of migrants. Many of them are stepping up to solve the issues affecting the larger population, including transport and health. Their efforts should be recognised,” he said.

Alvi, a seasoned community leader, has been at the forefront of many firsts for the community. Not only has he facilitated multiple interfaith dialogues, seminars, and discussion forums in Sydney and other cities across Australia for fostering community and social cohesion, but he also spearheaded the establishment of the Australia-India Chamber of Commerce (NSW) as its founder and president.

He proudly refers to Indian Crescent Society of Australia Inc (ICSOA) a community-based not-for-profit organisation representing and networking Indian Muslim migrants in Australia founded by him, which has over 122,000 Indian Muslim members across Australia. As its current president, he says one of the key events of the organisation is the annual Interfaith event held each year in the NSW Parliament.

With his own interest in arts and poetry, Alvi produced Rahat, a collective effort involving 65 Australian creative artists from 12 ethnicities dedicated to fostering community cohesion, peace, and harmony, which was launched at the NSW Parliament in 2022.

Abbas Alvi with his wife at Community Service Awards 2024
Abbas Alvi with wife Farida (Source: Supplied)

Earlier in 2010, he had released Guldasta – a poetry compilation featuring the works of 47 Australian poets in Urdu and Hindi at the NSW Parliament. The collection advocated for a united world, peace and harmony, and supporting creative projects in Australia.

WAACI (We Australians are Creative Inc), a not-for-profit Australian organisation of which Alvi is founding director, is networking creativity in Australia. It believes that creativity has no boundaries, limitations, nationalities, religions, colour, racial differences, or any other barriers humans erect around themselves. “We share and network creativity with established as well as new artists, and support emerging creative artists to promote their work,” Alvi explained.

Abbas Alvi has also represented Australia as a delegate at NRI (Non-Residence of India) and PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) conferences in India, advocating for the interests and concerns of Indian migrants in Australia.

Read more about the NSW Government Community Service Awards here

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