Waleed Aly’s win strikes gold

waleed alyTelevision presenter Waleed Aly won the Gold Logie on Sunday night, dedicating his award to “people with unpronounceable names”.

The 37-year-old Walkley Award-winning journalist, commentator, academic and lawyer became the first non-Anglo Australian to win the award.

Mr Aly was educated at Wesley College in Glen Waverley, a Uniting Church school, and later completed a Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Law at the University of Melbourne.

He is best-known as the host of The Project and his hard-hitting segments on human rights, terrorism and racism earned him widespread praise from television and social media audiences. His speech calling for solidarity following the Paris attacks last year has been viewed more than 30 million times.

Mr Aly is also an outspoken critic of the federal government’s treatment of asylum seekers and recently wrote about the “monstrous failure” of Australia’s offshore detention system.

But his Logies nomination also sparked controversy in the lead-up to the awards, with Today show host Karl Stefanovic joking that his co-host Lisa Wilkinson was “too white” to receive a nomination.

A few weeks ago, Crosslight examined the challenges of tackling casual racism in the Australian workforce.

In his acceptance speech last night, Mr Aly relayed the story of a man named Mustafa, who had to change his name in order to get a job in the television industry.

“There have been a lot of people in the past week or two who have made it clear to me that me being here right now really matters to them,” he said.

Mr Aly thanked the public for voting for him. “To Dimitri and Mustafa and all the other people with unpronounceable names like Waleed, I want to say one thing: that is, that I am incredibly humbled you would even think to invest in me that way.

“But I’m also incredibly saddened by it, because the truth is you deserve more numerous and more worthy avatars than that.”

The Gold Logie is awarded by popular vote and Mr Aly hopes his win can spark a broader conversation about diversity in the industry.

“I don’t know if and when that’s going to happen but if tonight means anything, it’s that the Australian public, our audience, as far as they’re concerned there is absolutely no reason why that can’t change,” he said.

Mr Aly also paid tribute to the other Gold Logie nominees – Lee Lin Chin, Essie Davis, Grant Denyer, Scott Cam and fellow The Project host Carrie Bickmore.

“Each nominee brilliantly distils some separate piece of Australia,” he said.

“If you step back and look at those pieces assembled it’s a spectacular mosaic and we should be celebrating that fact.”

Cultural diversity lies at the heart of the Uniting Church.

In 1985, the National Assembly declared that ‘the Uniting Church is a multicultural Church’. At least 40 different languages are used in worship across the Church every week. There are more than 220 ministers from CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) backgrounds.

The greatest growth in church numbers comes from first and second generation Australians. In some churches, the involvement of CALD communities has injected new life into previously ageing congregations.

The synod’s Intercultural Unit is holding a conference on the theme ‘Becoming an intercultural Church’ on 13-14 May. The conference will be held at the Koornang Uniting Church in Murrumbeena and is ideal for church ministers and leaders interested in creating a truly inclusive and diverse community. You can register your place at the conference here.




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