Past Award Finalists and Recipients
Australian of the Year
State Finalist Australian of the Year 2013
Dr Ahmad Sarmast
Musician for peace
Dr Ahmad Sarmast, a musician and refugee who fled civil war in Afghanistan to come to Australia, uses music as a unifying force to break down social, political, religious and ethnic barriers in his war-torn homeland. Against the odds and showing tremendous courage, Ahmad has established a national institute of music in Kabul to promote peace and build democracy. Every day he encounters the physical dangers of working in a conflict zone, including being trapped by crossfire, as well as entrenched prejudice. Understanding that the establishment of a civil society in Afghanistan is essential for democracy, Ahamad’s music school empowers Afghan children, regardless of class, ethnicity or gender, through education, literacy and the music itself. It also nurtures inter-cultural connections between Afghan musicians and students and their counterparts in Australia and around the world. A former asylum seeker speaking no English, Ahmad is now an Australian citizen and a potent advocate for peace and human rights. His work through the institute of music makes a significant contribution to Australia’s commitment to peace and democracy in Afghanistan.