Cuc Lam

Arriving as a refugee from Vietnam in 1978, Cuc Lam has worked tirelessly to help other migrants, and particularly women, adapt to life in a new land.

Honour Roll

"From my own experience I found that women from different cultures were disadvantaged - and even more so if they could not speak the language - and I wanted to help them overcome their difficulties and help them feel confident in adapting to a new society and contributing to Australian society," she said.

Cuc said one of the greatest challenges she faced was overcoming culture shock. Cuc said even though she spoke English she found the application of the language, and therefore finding employment and education, a real challenge. But overcoming those challenges she has built a rewarding and community-orientated life for her family and herself.

In 1997, Cuc turned her attention to local government and spent one term as councillor for the City of Maribyrnong. "I enjoyed being a councillor where I could represent residents regardless of where they come from and give them a voice. I am very satisfied with what I did," she said. In 2002, Cuc was awarded a Commonwealth Public Service Medal. Her advice to other migrants is to work hard and stay motivated and focused on their goals. "Never give up. For whatever you want to do have a strong motivation and commitment," she said.

Today she looks back with confidence on her selection of Australia over Canada, America and France as her new home. "I look back and I know I made the right decision," she said. "I love living in Australia. I love Melbourne. And every time I hear the national anthem I feel a real belonging. I am very proud to be an Australian."