Reading Time: 3 minutes
Since 1995, the Menzies Awards have been presented to community members who have provided outstanding service in their particular field
Meet Harpreet Singh Maan, a proud proponent of intercultural communication, and winner of a Menzies Community Australia Day Award 2016. Harpreet was recognised for his contribution to the local community of Menzies and his ongoing loyal commitment to the Commonwealth of Australia.
Kevin Andrews, Federal Member for Menzies, presented the award at the Manningham Function Centre on 26 January. Since 1995, the Menzies Awards have been presented to community members who have provided outstanding service in their particular field.
Harpreet is committed to a lifelong pursuit of identifying, creating and building bridges between cultures for healthier communities. He educates people about Sikhism and facilitates tours to the Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) in Blackburn. He actively participates in humanitarian and community events in an attempt to promote harmony and peace.
Harpreet came to Melbourne from Phagwara, Punjab in 2006 to complete a Masters in IT at Swinburne University, and has been employed as a senior admissions officer in Swinburne’s International Department since 2008.
“When I arrived in Melbourne, no one knew me and I would hear things like, ‘How are things in Afghanistan?’” Harpreet said, as he recalled what inspired him to get involved in informing the community about his culture.
“I felt that many people did not really understand what turbans stood for, nor did they know much about Punjabis and Sikhism,” Harpreet said. “I believe that it’s much easier to learn and teach about culture in a fun, interactive environment as opposed to a lecture theatre,” he added. This was the reason behind the creation of the Swinburne Punjabi Club that he initiated in 2007 whilst he was still a student.
Harpreet is currently a member of the Whitehorse Interfaith Network and also Secretary of the Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria. He is grateful for the opportunities he has had to collaborate with people from different backgrounds and cultures, enabling an exchange of information and better understanding among people.
Along with his friends Devinder Singh and Harmeet Singh, Harpreet has recently launched an app called AuSikhs, a free, one stop app offering culturally sensitive advice and services to people within Victoria’s Sikh community.
“Our app includes names of all the Sikh Gurudwaras, Sikh organisations, helplines, local events, names of service providers and lots of other relevant information to those who download it,” explained Harpeet.
“AuSikhs has been quite successful with over 1000 downloads. We are even getting phone calls from people in Canada who wish to learn how to create similar applications.”
According to Harpreet, his wife Jaspreet Kaur actively supports him in his community work. “I know it is a cliché, but my wife truly is the woman behind my success. She is very supportive, participates in my interfaith activities and also sings kirtan on stage at events,” Harpeet said.
Together, Jaspreet and Harpreet are showing great dedication to enhancing cultural understanding.