Former Refugee Danijel Malbasa Wins Inaugural Les Murray Refugee Recognition Award

Former Refugee Danijel Malbasa Wins Inaugural Les Murray Refugee Recognition Award
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine



Australia for UNHCR and SBS have today announced former Yugoslav refugee, Danijel Malbasa as the inaugural winner of the Les Murray Award for Refugee Recognition.

The award is sponsored by SBS and recognises an outstanding former refugee who is raising awareness of the plight of forcibly displaced people, and is named after beloved sports broadcaster Les Murray, himself a former refugee from Hungary.

“SBS is so very proud to sponsor the Les Murray award. This award pays tribute to Les’ legacy, but importantly also continues his work in driving awareness of the many ways that refugees make positive contributions to Australia’s multicultural society,” said SBS managing director, James Taylor.

Australia for UNHCR national director, Naomi Steer congratulated Malbasa (featured image) and thanked him for his work supporting refugees.

“I know that Les Murray would be delighted with Danijel as the inaugural recipient of the Les Murray award.  Danijel has overcome many personal challenges and trauma to carve out a successful legal career and now uses his advocacy skills to help other refugees,” said Steer.

Malbasa (featured image) was just seven years old when his father was killed after stepping on a landmine.  Young Danijel, his mother and three siblings spent six years in camps for Internally Displaced People.

“I can honestly say, hand on heart, that UNHCR was there for us and they saved our lives,” said Malbasa.

The family came to Australia on a humanitarian visa when Malbasa was 12 years old. Upon arrival, he was malnourished, traumatised, and spoke no English.

That was over 20 years ago. Malbasa is now an industrial relations lawyer who in his spare time works to highlight the plight of refugees.

He is also a talented storyteller who has written extensively about his experience as a refugee, with his writing being published in books and leading newspapers.

Malbasa said he was delighted to have won the Les Murray award.

“SBS and Les Murray were a constant presence in my life as an ethnic kid growing up in Australia,” he said.

Les Murray taught Mr Malbasa that “you can have a career that has nothing to do with refugees and displacement, but still have a sense of responsibility to refugees and people seeking asylum.”

“Our father’s passion for the plight of refugees in Australia and around the world equalled his more recognised devotion to football. He saw refugees not as burdens but as contributors whose diverse backgrounds, perspectives and abilities deeply enrich Australia’s cultural landscape,” they said.

“On behalf of Les, we congratulate Mr Malbasa on this very special recognition.”

Malbasa currently sits on the steering committee of the National Refugee-led Advocacy and Advisory Group. He also volunteers as a migration agent with Refugee Legal, where he helps asylum seekers apply for Temporary Protection Visas.

Furthermore, he is the deputy chair of the Forcibly Displaced People Network – Australia’s first LGBTIQ+ refugee network.

The judges of the Les Murray award include former Ugandan refugee Ann Odong, SBS director of language and audio content, David Hua, UNHCR multi-country representative, Adrian Edwards, and Australia for UNHCR deputy chair Kate Dundas.

Malbasa will be appearing at Australia for UNHCR’s World Refugee Day event on Thursday 16 June.




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