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A Sunshine lawyer has been named on a list of Australia’s 100 most influential African-born residents.
Slater and Gordon personal injury lawyer Kot Monoah was honoured at the inaugural African-Australian National Awards at a ceremony at the Sydney Opera House late last month.
The 30-year-old, who was born in southern Sudan and now lives at Wyndham Vale, received the Outstanding Young Leader Award for his work helping young members of the African-Australian community.
Before arriving in Australia in 2004, Kot spent 12 years in Kenyan refugee camps, surviving civil war, attacks by wild animals, malaria, cholera and more.
Soon after touching down in Melbourne, he began studying law at Victoria University, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 2009 before doing a graduate diploma at Australian National University.
Since 2010 he has worked at Slater and Gordon’s Sunshine office where he specialises in motor vehicle accident and WorkCover claims.
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Kate Lundy presented the award, which recognised Kot’s work to increase awareness of the issues facing African Australians.
Kot said he was honoured to have been nominated for the award by various community organisations and humbled to be selected as an award winner by a panel from Celebrate African Australians Inc.
“There is no doubt that Australia has been kind to me and I feel grateful to have been rewarded for putting in hard work,” Kot said.
“I am also grateful for the opportunity to show others who share my background what opportunities exist for all Australians, no matter where they were born, and I want to help them reach their own potential.”
He has worked as a community liaison officer with Victoria Police as well as volunteer roles with VICSEG, various Migrant Resource Centres, the Fitzroy Community Legal Service and a number of Sudanese community organisations.
Senator Lundy said after the ceremony that all recipients had inspired and motivated others in the African-Australian community.
“These awards are a wonderful tribute to the African Australian community who have contributed to Australia’s success and prosperity over generations,” Sen Lundy said.
The Outstanding Young Leader Award is the latest in a string of awards Kot has received in Australia and Africa.
These include a Darebin African Resource Centre Young Mentor of the Year Award for his work helping youths in detention centres and prisons and a Victoria Police Plaque for his work as an unsworn officer promoting understanding of multiculturalism in the force.
Kot also dedicates time to promoting sport among the African community and is a coach of Sunshine’s Western Tigers soccer team in the Metropolitan Football league.
Slater and Gordon practice group leader Craig Lynch, who is Kot's manager, said he was an inspiration to others at the firm.
"We're extremely proud to have Kot as a member of our team," Mr Lynch said.
"It is not surprising to see him receive these honours given his dedication to helping people in a position of disadvantage find ways to turn that around and achieve something they thought was out of reach."
“He is reliable, trustworthy and an incredible leader for his community. We are all delighted that his abilities have been recognised publicly in such a fitting way."
Kot is available for photographs and interviews.