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I congratulate Joseph Assaf AM for being awarded the Australian Migration and Settlement Lifetime Achievement Award at tonights Australian Migration and Settlement Awards dinner in Parliament House. Joseph Assaf AM deserves special recognition as the recipient of this years Australian Migration and Settlement Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual who has devoted their life to improving the lives of migrants. Joseph Assafs first words were in Arabic. He was educated in French. He migrated to Australia from Lebanon in 1967 with no English, but by 1972 he had taught himself the language and completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney. He saw a need for a multicultural communications sector in Australia and has devoted his career spanning three decades to this end. I also congratulate all finalists and award recipients in the other categories. There were a number of deserving finalists across the categories, which covered Settlement Innovation, Case Worker of the Year, Sports Leadership, Business Inclusion, Journalism Excellence, Lifetime Achievement and Diversity and the Law. Tonight we recognise those who reflect our countrys best hopes and aspirations. Immigration has been at the heart of our Australian story and in directly honouring distinguished migrants, we indirectly honour ourselves because all of us have been shaped and formed by Australias immigrant culture. The Migration Council Awards honour and celebrate migrants contribution to modern Australia and I thank the Migration Council Australia for putting together another successful awards night this year. The full list of award recipients can be found at

24 March 2014