Some of the country’s brightest Asian-Australians have been recognised in this year’s 40 Under 40 Awards, shining a light on the incredible leadership talent and potential among Australia’s multicultural community.
Vietnamese-Australian lawyer Tu Le has been named the overall winner of 2022. Last year, she famously ran against Kristina Keneally for ALP preselection in the safe seat of Fowler, a largely Vietnamese and culturally diverse electorate, and sparked crucial conversations around diversity in politics. She has also facilitated a program for men from minority communities and advocated against the exploitation of temporary visa and migrant workers.
She serves as Board director of Addison Road Community Organisation (charity which elevates human rights, arts, culture and sustainability), Deputy-Chair of Asian Women at Work (organisation working to empower migrant women in low paid and precarious employment) and co-founded the Vietnamese Australian Forum.
The other category winners were:
- Belinda Bentley (Entrepreneurship), co-founder and director of independent property investment and advisory group 9Springs;
- Michelle Law (Arts & culture), writer for print, screen and stage;
- UNSW Associate Professor Rona Chandrawati (Science & Medicine), Australia’s leading researcher in colorimetric food sensory technology;
- Drew Ambrose (Media), a foreign correspondent, investigative journalist and filmmaker for the past 17 years;
- Mahjabeen Zaman (Corporate), Head of FX Research at ANZ;
- Sabrina Li (Education), educational leader, international student coordinator and senior Chinese language teacher at St Margaret’s Berwick Grammar School;
- Councillor Joseph Haweil (Public Sector / Government), municipal councillor in Hume City, one of Australia’s most diverse municipalities;
- Matthew Joseph Floro (Legal & Professional), senior environmental, planning and administrative lawyer specialising in climate change litigation;
- Angelique Wan, CEO of Consent Labs, and Dr Joyce Yu, Co-Founder and Director of Consent Labs (Community & Advocacy)
The Under 25 Rising Star category was won by Angelina Inthavong, diversity and equality advocate, and the 2020 and 2021 Youth Member for Bonney in Queensland Youth Parliament.
Now in its fourth year, the 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards is an initiative of the Australian National University Centre for Asian-Australian Leadership, Asialink at the University of Melbourne and Johnson Partners to recognise talent across various sectors.
“An Asia-capable and connected Australia is fundamental to Australia’s future,” said Asialink CEO Martine Letts. “The 40 under 40 Awards are unique as they highlight for the first time the key contribution talented Asian-Australians make in all productive sectors of our community – in the arts, research and education, media, sport, business and public life.”
Jieh-Yung Lo, founding director of The Australian National University Centre for Asian-Australian Leadership, notes the importance of these awards in recognising Asian-Australian talent.
“Nearly one in five people in Australia has an Asian cultural heritage, yet only about 3 per cent of senior management positions are held by Asian-Australians,” Mr Lo said.
Notably, research undertaken by Australian National University found 82 per cent of surveyed Asian-Australians report they have experienced discrimination in Australia, the highest amongst all the self-identified ethnic groups in the study.
While nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) reported discrimination in the workplace, the most common setting seemed to be a shop or restaurant (71 per cent).
The most common reported barriers to Asian-Australians in obtaining leadership positions in business and other organisation roles were ‘stereotypes associated with the group’ (42 per cent) and discrimination (44 per cent).
Mr Lo elaborated, “The key barriers preventing Asian-Australian talent from reaching leadership roles within Australian organisations are cultural bias and stereotyping; westernised leadership models; lack of relationship capital such as access to mentors, sponsors and high-powered and influential networks, and the case for cultural diversity not understood within organisations and workplaces.”