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Victoria University recognises human-rights-defending graduate

Victoria University is proud to award Kon Karapanagiotidis a 2015 alumni award for his outstanding service.

Kon is the CEO and founder of the Footscray-headquartered Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), the largest asylum seeker organisation in Australia.

He completed a Victoria University Master of Education degree in 2005 and a VU Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1997.

Kon was unable to attend the 27 October awards ceremony but sent his mother, Sia Karapanagiotidis, to accept his award on his behalf.

Through a recorded speech played to an audience of VU staff, students, alumni and their families, Kon said both his VU degrees have held him in great stead for the work he does to this day.

Proudly Greek, Kon has used the struggles of his parents and his own experiences of racism growing up to ignite his passion for human rights.

“The award goes to my late father and my mother who made all the sacrifices and the tough choices of giving up their dreams so that I could fly high and touch the sky,” he said.

Since founding the ASRC in 2001, Kon has worked at the grassroots with marginalised communities as a lawyer, social worker and teacher.

The ASRC is an innovative, one-stop shop that delivers 23 programs across the pillars of aid, justice, empowerment and community. A team of more than 800 volunteers and 40 staff have assisted more than 10,000 asylum seekers and provided in excess of 2.5 million hours of free assistance – all without Federal Government funding.

“In a perfect world, the ASRC wouldn’t need to be here,” he said.

“We would have a country that welcomes and respects and treats people seeking our protection with dignity, humanity and compassion rather than vilifying, demonising and persecuting them.”

Kon said he was proud to be associated with Victoria University because of its great legacy of accepting generations of migrants and refugees to become great leaders of Australia for more than a century.

Kon’s work has also been recognised with an Order of Australia Medal, a Churchill Fellowship, and as a finalist for the Human Rights Medal and an Australian of the Year.

He was invited to participate in the 2020 Summit, was voted one of Australia’s 20 Unsung Heroes, and is listed one of Melbourne’s 100 most influential people.

Photos of Kon Karapanagiotidis are available.

Media contact:   
Ann Marie Angebrandt
: 03 9919 5487 annmarie.angebrandt@vu.edu.au

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