Anne Farah-Hill recognised for celebrating diversity | Queen's Birthday Honours 2019

Heart of Kingsgrove: Anne Farah-Hill, chief executive officer of the Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre has been awarded an OAM. Picture: Chris Lane
Heart of Kingsgrove: Anne Farah-Hill, chief executive officer of the Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre has been awarded an OAM. Picture: Chris Lane

Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre chief executive officer, Anne Farah-Hill has been awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for service to the community through social welfare organisations.

Ms Farah-Hill has had a long and varied career in social welfare, supporting many sectors of the community including refugees, migrants, young mothers and the elderly.

Her interest in social welfare started when she was a child helping out in her father's green grocer shop in Marrickville.

"We had arrived from Lebanon in the early 1960s," Ms Farah-Hill said.

"My father was very gregarious. He felt as a fruit shop owner he was serving the community.

"The older community of migrants were involved in helping new arrivals. People came into our shop asking for his help. And I was the eldest child, he often asked me to help people with their settlement issues, often out by filling out forms in the shop.

"This was the start of my interest in community service."

Ms Farah-Hill started her career in social welfare at the May Murray Community Centre in Marrickville, working with refugees from Vietnam and migrants from Lebanon.

"I was working with a lot of diverse cultures and started a multicultural festival in the Calvert Street car park in Marrickville."

This has since grown into the annual Marrickville Festival.

Ms Farah-Hill worked for a time with Anglican Retirement Villages as community care manager.

"But I found I was missing my local community work and I looked around and found work at the Kingsgrove Community Centre.

"I found a huge heart in Kingsgrove," Ms Farah-Hill said.

"At the time the centre was operating from the orignal little cottage in Smith Park.

"I said we could not stay in the little cottage. I wanted to change what we were doing in the community. For a long time community centres operated out of substandard accommodation. It was assumed that it was good enough, but it wasn't.

"So I started lobbying for a community centre.

"The strength behind me was the community. The council listened. Councillor Vince Badalati supported us and came to the party."

The new $3million Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre opened in August, 2009.

As well as being chief executive officer at the centre, Ms Farah-Hill is involved in many social welfare organisations including the St George Advocate of Children Committee, the Canterbury Earlwood Caring Association.

She was a founding member of Maronite Care and is a board member of St Charbel Care Centre, Punchbowl.

Some of many other organisations she has been involved with include St George Region Ethnic Interagency, NSW Police and Ethnic Community Advisory Committee, NSW Ethnic Communities Council, Inner West Aborignal Interagency, and the NSW Women's Network Committee.

Since the new centre KCAC has expanded and now has 20 community groups ranging from support for young mothers to the elderly, migrant and cultural groups.

"I've turned it into a hub for the community. It is a meeting place for the community that is safe and welcoming.

"We celebrate the diversity of the community."