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Kayla Szumer, Buderim
 

Queensland Multicultural Awards

Individual Category Award Winners

Community Services

Kayla was born in 1936 in Sydney to Russian migrants. Since her arrival at the Sunshine Coast in 2003, Kayla has been active in both her local community in Buderim as well as in the wider Sunshine Coast community. Kayla has coordinated the educational project Courage to Care and has also volunteered her time to the plight of refugees through Buddies Refugee Group. She also provided assistance to the settlement of migrants through her work as an active member of the Buddies Refugee Group.

Kayla wins with her caring way

When Kayla Szumer’s parents fled communist Russia in the 1920s to come to Australia they were welcomed with open arms.

That’s why, 80 years on, Kayla – who was born in Sydney in 1937 – decided to spread the word of tolerance and acceptance to school students through the Courage to Care program.

After more than a year of work bringing the educational program to the Coast Kayla has received a Queensland multicultural award for community service. The education program teaches students about what to do if confronted by a situation where someone is being discriminated against.

“The aim is to promote community harmony and to discuss what you can do as a bystander when you witness an injustice,” she said. “The educational program looks at what you can do if someone is being discriminated against because they’re handicapped, they have different coloured skin, a different religion or whatever – do you turn away and ignore it or do you do something to stop it?”

More than 4500 school students took part in the Courage to Care program, which ran for six weeks in May and June this year.

Kayla said she was honoured by the recognition, but could not have achieved it without the help of volunteers and organisers.

“People are often afraid of difference, but they need to understand and value the differences in culture and religion because it enriches all our lives,” she said.

 

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