Nancy Nguyen, a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, attributes her desire to serve her local community in Sydney's west as a way to express gratitude to the country that welcomed her parents.
That service, which includes being a member of the NSW State Emergency Service, was recognised on Australia Day by the Fairfield City Council. The 22-year-old was named the council's Young Citizen of the Year.
"While I am a blend of two cultures, the refugee mindset that hard work pays off is a motivation behind my work," Ms Nguyen told AAP.
"My parents always encourage me to work hard, and stand up again after you fall."
The Fairfield council area is a large area south-west of Sydney's city centre with a culturally diverse population.
Ms Nguyen's parents both spent time in refugee camps before coming to Australia in the aftermath of the conflict in Vietnam in the 1970s.
"I want to give back to the Australian community - I think refugees add much to the diversity in Australia through their culture, food and language," Ms Nguyen said.
When she was still in high school, Ms Nguyen helped Vietnamese children with their own schooling. She has gone on to volunteer in numerous roles, including involving herself in the Biennale of Sydney in 2018 where she worked with artists to install their work, and guide visitors.
She joined the NSW SES that same year.
Most of the nominees and winners in Fairfield's awards are from diverse backgrounds.
Bashar Hanna, who came to Australia from Iraq, won the Volunteer of the Year category. He was recognised for helping other refugees and for communicating health information during the COVID-19 pandemic to refugee communities.
"We acknowledge Fairfield City as a place which celebrates people from many different backgrounds," said Frank Carbone, the city's mayor.
"Many of our residents come from overseas and almost speak 100 different languages. We celebrate our cultural diversity as well as our freedom, our democracy, and our sense of fair go for all."
Australian Associated Press