Lunch with Leaders: Creating harmony through volunteering with 2023 Australia’s Local Hero, Amar Singh

  • 23 March 2023

In the spirit of Harmony Week, Auspire – Australia Day Council WA hosted an  online event  to learn about the impact of 2023 Australia’s Local Hero, Amar Singh, who turned discrimination and isolation into Turbans 4 Australia (T4A), a charity that helps all Australians – no matter their faith, culture or background.

Talking to us from within his warehouse where donations are stored and food hampers are made, Amar reflected on his Australian story – from arriving at the age of 10 and volunteering for the Red Cross, to receiving recognition at the Australian of the Year Awards national ceremony in Canberra on 25th January 2023.

Asked by event MC, Auspire CEO Morgen Lewis, Amar spoke of the difficult, negative experiences that led to such a positive outcome.

“As migrants, we are sometimes thought of as second-class citizens. I was getting hammered with comments like ‘go back home’, but this is my home. I don’t want my children being told that, so what could I do? Volunteering and starting a charity was my way of being accepted.”

people smiling at camera in front of vans

Discussing the impact of T4A, Amar shared with the audience his experiences of assisting small communities following natural disasters – something that the charity is now regularly being called upon for help. He recalled the police escorts their vans had during the bushfires, towns and cities resembling warzones, and still being able to see the watermarks on the second story of the main library in Lismore from the flooding. In the midst of such loss and devastation, the will of the people rise above.

“When you meet the local people, they offer you a cup of tea and they come to say ‘thank you’ to us! They’ve just lost their homes, but they’re still servicing their community. It makes you think: ‘what can I do to help?’”

flooding with road closed sign

By supporting people who are experiencing some of the most challenging times of their lives, Amar and T4A have broken barriers and changed perceptions of people who were unfamiliar with Sikh culture. It is, after all, the Sikh cultural tenet of Seva – selfless service to others – that Amar has applied to real life and the whole of society.

“We’re not a one-dimensional charity and, as a person, I wanted to make friends. We have an event called Turban Time, where we put turbans on people. It’s really intimate and it’s a time where people can ask questions. If two people can find common ground and get to know each other, job done.”

2 men wearing turbans smiling at camera

During the online event, audience members themselves grabbed the opportunity to learn more, with questions on the significance of the turban – which also led Amar to explain the meanings of common Sikh surnames (like Singh) – and what one might expect when visiting a Sikh temple.

He also updated viewers on expansion plans into WA and how they could help support T4A; provided advice on starting a charity; explained how he connects with Aboriginal culture; and suggested the importance of language and practicing faith when asked about how Australia can encourage migration to regional towns and cities.

Throughout the hour, Amar was clear about his key message: everyone should volunteer.

“Volunteering has been the foundation. Meeting new people and seeing the nice side of society – if I hadn’t seen that, maybe I would have built my wall up. But you see so many nice people who welcome you. How do you find them? Getting involved in your community!”

Hear all of Amar’s answers in full and gain further insight with the full recording below!

Find out more about Turbans 4 Australia at,au

This event was proudly supported by Chevron Australia, National Diversity and Inclusion Partner of the Australian of the Year Awards.

Nominate your Australian of the Year at

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