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Shepparton resident recognised for community service work

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A local Shepparton refugee advocate has taken out a top gong by winning Victoria's social housing Frances Penington Award.

Derrick Bwihambi received the award from Minister for Housing Wendy Lovell in front of 150 guests today at the 2014 Frances Penington and Molly Hadfield Awards Ceremony at RMIT University in Melbourne.

Mr Bwihambi started life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before immigrating to Australia in 2007 and moving to Shepparton, where he now lives in public housing.

Ms Lovell said Derrick is a strong supporter of young people from diverse cultural backgrounds and his commitment to supporting people who live in public housing in the Shepparton community is exceptional.

"I'd like to acknowledge Derrick's sense of community and the direct assistance he provides to the many people living in public housing in Shepparton," Ms Lovell said.

"Derrick is always willing to help out other tenants by organising school pickups for local children, interpreting for other tenants who have difficulty communicating in English, and by coaching street soccer for young people who are homeless or have drug or alcohol addictions."

Mr Bwihambi established the Congolese Traditional Dance Group of Shepparton, which promotes the talents of culturally diverse performers and cultural groups currently living in public housing. He is also involved in a number of other projects and works to build community awareness of the issues facing former refugees.

The Frances Penington Award, named after Victoria's first Housing Commissioner, has been presented annually since 1998 to a social housing tenant or group of tenants who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to their community.

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