Stepan Kerkyasharian awarded UWS honorary doctorate

Stephan Kirk

Former head of SBS radio and Chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission, Stepan Kerkyasharian, has been recognised by the University of Western Sydney with an honorary doctorate.

The University of Western Sydney recently awarded Mr Kerkyasharian an Honorary Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa at a UWS graduation ceremony, where he also delivered the occasional address to graduands.

Stepan Kerkyasharian has been the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW and its predecessor, the Ethnic Affairs Commission, since 1989. He will stand down as Chair after September after almost 25 years in the role.

He has also been the President and Chief Executive of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board since 2003.

UWS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janice Reid, paid tribute to Mr Kerkyasharian and his outstanding service to public life.

“Whether it has been his pivotal role leading SBS radio and providing a voice for ethnic communities, or being at the helm of the NSW Community Relations Commission for over two decades, Stepan Kerkyasharian has been a leading light when it comes to multiculturalism in this country, helping to make Australia a more understanding and more tolerant place,” says Professor Reid.

“Today the idea of Australian citizenship readily and naturally incorporates the concept of cultural diversity and our nation benefits enormously from that. Stepan has played no small role in bringing that about.

“On behalf of the University, it is an honour for me to confer the award of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, on Stepan Kerkyasharian, in recognition of his distinguished service to multiculturalism in Australia.”

Migrating to Australia from Cyprus in 1967, Mr Kerkyasharian began a life-long career and commitment to the service and support of multiculturalism within Australian society.

Through the 1980s, he headed SBS radio and played a major role in establishing ethnic broadcasting as a major national resource and feature of Australian cultural diversity.

In his role as chairman of the Community Relations Commission he has been at the forefront of public policy-making and debate on issues affecting ethnic communities, including areas such as migration law, refugees, religious practices, educational qualifications of overseas born migrants, and community and police relationships, to name but a few.

In January 2011 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. He was also recognised with the Olympic Order for Services to the International Olympic Movement for his contribution to the harmonious running of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.


27 September 2013

Photo: Sally Tsoutas 

Contact: Amanda Whibley, Manager, Media and Public Relations

By submitting a comment you acknowledge you agree with the Terms and Conditions.