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Elleni Bereded-Samuel AM

Elleni Bereded-Samuel is passionate about empowering migrants to reach their full potential.

Honour Roll

"It is something I love to do," Elleni, of St Albans, said. Elleni was born in Ethiopia and arrived in Australia with her husband and sevenmonth-old baby in 1996. After receiving permanent residence as a political refugee, she immediately began working with migrants from the Horn of Africa.

Distressed by the fighting in her homeland, she wanted to bring Africans together under one roof in a peaceful project. Her first project was compiling stories from Horn of Africa refugees living in the western suburbs for Maribyrnong City Council. "People were not talking to each other in Australia and I believed that things were happening in Africa because of the government, not the people," she said. "So with the story-telling project, I took the challenge to bring women together and it was very successful."

Inspired by her work, Victoria University asked Elleni to establish a bridging program for women from the Horn of Africa. Elleni, 38, has since been the driving force behind several community projects including the Inner Western Migrant Resource Centre, the Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women's Coalition, and the Horn of Africa Communities Network. As the Community Partnerships Officer for Victoria University she promotes access to education, training and employment for people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

In September 2005 she was appointed a Victorian Multicultural Commissioner providing the State Government with independent advice about the needs and views of Victoria's culturally diverse communities. "The only way we can assist the community is to empower the community," she said.