Australia Day Celebrations
Dinkha Warda has watched and helped, the Assyrian-Australian community grow from a few families to around 20,000 people.
The 62-year-old Abbotsbury resident was named Fairfield City's Citizen of the Year at an Australia Day ceremony on Saturday.
The award recognised 36 years of community work, his aim being to promote and preserve Assyrian traditions while helping migrants to settle in Australia.
“It is a great delight for me and for my wife Florence to have my contribution to the Assyrian and Fairfield community recognised on this Australia Day,” Mr Warda said.
His promotion of Fairfield to fellow migrants helped the area develop into the Assyrian cultural centre it is today.
“When I arrived there were only a few Assyrians in Australia, spread around Paddington, Randwick and other suburbs,” Mr Warda said.
“We had a map that said Fairfield would be the best place in 30 years.”
“We wanted more people to come to one area to establish cultural activities.”
Cultural icons such as the Nineveh Club, three Assyrian Churches, language programs on SBS radio, a social welfare office, scholarship schemes and sporting facilities all have Mr Warda's fingerprints on them.
“The Nineveh Club and its soccer facilities were a major achievement and was a major factor in attracting Assyrian migrants to settle in the Fairfield area,” he said.
A founder and president of the Assyrian Australian Association (AAA) he was one of four directors to buy land for the Nineveh club and soccer field in 1971.
“When (the AAA) started in 1969 we had no funds so when we decided to have the first party we didn't have any money.”
“Ten of us put in one week's wages to raise $600 . . . now we have assets of $6 million.”
Construction of Fairfield hospita, Wetherill Park TAFE and a local child care centre were achieved during Mr Warda's membership of the Fairfield Community Council for Social Development in the 1970s.
“I have met and worked with many wonderful people,” he said.