PERTH, Australia — Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey, Dr. Hamza Amira of the Western Australian Islamic Council and government leader Cheryl Edwardes received Family Values Awards from members of the Church in Perth Sunday evening, September 16, for their service to Australian parents and children. The event was held at the Perth Australia Warwick Stake Center.
The archbishop of Perth's Catholic community has served tirelessly for many years supporting those affected by many of society's greatest challenges, including unplanned pregnancy, family breakdown and drug abuse, according to Philip Baker, director of Church public affairs in Perth.
Dr. Amira and his wife, Mona, leaders in the local Australian Islamic community, were also recognized for their strong support of Western Australian families through active community involvement over many years, Brother Baker said.
He added that Mrs. Edwardes, a member of the state parliament, and her husband, Colin, are active in community causes and Mrs. Edwardes has gained respect for her unwavering support for the family, particularly in her contribution to moral issues.
The Family Values Awards program was instituted by former Western Australian director of public affairs John Grinceri in 1995. The past six years have seen 17 prominent community leaders and their spouses recognized by the Church for their outstanding contributions in promoting the value of the family. Recipients are chosen and then approved by the area presidency.
Prior to the awards ceremony, Australia/New Zealand Area President Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy joined with the recipients and other guests at a dinner. Among the 500 in attendance at the ceremony were government and community leaders.
After the presentations, each recipient responded, Brother Baker said. The archbishop was complimentary of the Church's emphasis on the family, highlighting the common areas of beliefs between the two churches.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States the previous week, Dr. Hamza's address delivered a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the outreach of the Latter-day Saints. He quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith: "Friendship is one of the great fundamental principles of 'Mormonism;' [it is designed] to revolutionize the world, and cause wars [including the war of words] and contentions to cease, and men to become friends and brothers." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.316.)
Mrs. Edwardes told of some personal family blessings she has had in her life and then praised the Church: "I attended these awards last year and was so impressed that I reported it to my colleagues in state cabinet the next morning that your lead in the community was inspiring us all. Little did I realize that this year Colin and I would be recipients."
In the parking lot after the ceremony, several of the Islamic guests approached Brother Baker, he said. Rahim Ghauri, president of the Pakistan/Australia Cultural and Welfare Association was the spokesman and said: "Mr. Baker, thank you, thank you for all that your Church did for us tonight. It has been a very difficult week for us. We have had a bomb threat on our mosque, several of our people have been abused and threatened. Your friendship touched us all, and gave us hope. May peace and blessings be upon you and your Church."