Updated: Jan 30
by Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation
Photo : John Aciek (left) with Dr. Craig Challen OAM - our very own Australian 007 who saved the Thai boys in the cave.
Photo credit : Dr Renée Ralph
PERTH, Western Australia - Recent UN Human Rights Winner, John Akuot Aciek is currently serving as the President of the South Sudanese Community Association in Western Australia. He was elected in September 2017 and has served his community with integrity, championing unity and harmony in the community. John has a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) from Curtin University and an MBA with specialisation in Project Management from Edith Cowan University.
Despite working full time and a family to care for, John always finds time to attend to the problems his community members are facing.
John volunteers for the community and provides support in many ways such as attending to family issues related to Child Protection by advocating for the needs of individuals and families.
John’s heart for the community has seen him take on many voluntary roles in various capacities including:
Served as the Community Advisory Council for St. John of God Midland Public and Private Hospital from 2015 to 2017
Served as a Member of Advisory Council for Sudanese Affairs for the Anglican Church, Diocese of Perth from 2012 to 2017
A School Board Member for St. Helena Catholic Primary School from 2013 to 2016.
A Community Advisory Representative for the City of Swan in the Ellenbrook community area from 2014 to 2016
A coach in the local football clubs for under 7 and 9 from 2016 to 2018 John has also presented and written community position papers on a range of issues impacting migrant communities in Australia. He has written to government and service providers on matters such as the restructuring of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), African perceptions of mental health, migrant experiences in Australia and other post settlement programs impacting new migrants in WA and Australia wide.
Working closely with WA Police
He works closely with the WA Police as part of the African Community Leaders Advisory Group to the Commissioner. In this capacity, as President of the SSCAWA, John represents the interests of South Sudanese people at the WA Police engagement level, ensuring challenges experienced by community members are addressed in the most culturally responsive and sensitive manner.
Supporting the Youth
John has a big heart for the youth and he supports disengaged young people in prison (e.g., such as attending courts and prison visits), and providing mentorship and linking to community and psychosocial support services.
This is guided by a firm belief that young people are the foundation and future of any community, and he consistently advocates for the needs of children at risk through the Child Protection system. In his endeavours, John successfully advocated for nineteen (19) children that were taken into the custody of Child Protection.
Culturally responsive initiatives
Through his efforts, he managed support the Department in seeking culturally responsive approaches, and had all children put in the care of the next of kin, ensuring a child-safe and culturally sensitive response to the needs of children and their families.
Youth employment opportunities
John uses his networks to connect young people employment or trade qualification opportunities. In 2019, under his leadership, the South Sudanese community were able to host an employment expo and invited employers from Goldfields – Esperance and the Wheatbelt. It was a magnificent event attended by over eighty young people. Through this event, nineteen young people secured employment.
Photo credit : Dr Renée Ralph
He strongly believes that encouraging youth to find their purpose in life and to work hard to reach their full potential is a key part of community leadership and he takes the role with great commitment.
From 2019 to 2021, John established two a volunteer teams (Health Committee and (Social Services Committee) made up of community members to provide a culturally responsive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Committee provided vital information in a range of formats to reach all community members, helping to counter miss information. The Social Services Committee assisted by providing the much needed support for isolated and vulnerable individuals and families during lockdown.
His voluntary efforts to assist the WA Health efforts as part of the community response where recently acknowledged by the Governor of Western Australia, His Excellency Honourable Chris Dawson. This list are as follows:
Community parenting programs – securing funding and community volunteers to run a range of parenting programs in five different languages (Dinka, Bari, Nuer, Pajulu and Arabic) to address identified community needs. These parenting programs are developed from the Circle of Security model and adapted to be culturally relevant to parents raising multilingual children in Perth.
John has provided leadership of programs that respond to the needs of community including driver education assistance (linking with driving instructors that are multilingual to assist community members who do not speak English), setting up volunteer run services that assist people prepare and sit for the Australian citizenship test, ensuring that people who would otherwise be disadvantaged due to language barriers are able to obtain citizenship.
The South Sudanese community is among one of the most diverse community groups in WA. John has built a good working relationship with South Sudanese sub-ethnic groups. As a champion for unity and harmony, this is a key aspect of leadership in a South Sudanese context. He is a great leader and has worked extremely hard to establish good working relationship with other African communities, especially through the Organisation of African Communities (OAC) WA where John volunteers as Committee head.
Unity of African community in WA
John always advocates for the unity and interests of the African community in Western Australia. His desire is a strong and vibrant African community that will represent and attend to the interests of its people.
Photo credit : Dr Renée Ralph
Inclusiveness and diversity John’s passion for a more inclusive WA community is reflected in broader interests such as his employment with Ngala as a Community Development Officer. He has used his knowledge and experience to serve the community development sector in a more culturally sensitive manner, ensuring the needs and interests of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities are well represented.
John has been a champion for human rights and justice since the day he arrived in Australia. He has and continues to volunteer for a range of causes for the benefit of the community. His efforts help contribute to a range of SDG’s including Goals 1 No Poverty, Goal 3 Good health and wellbeing, Goal 4 Quality education, Goal 8 Decent work and economic growth and Goal 10 reduced inequalities.
John has been advocating for the Australian 101 booklet or tool kits to be produced to aid new migrants in better understanding Australian way of life and culture.
In recognition of his volunteering efforts, John was the Award winner of the Community Pillar of the Year 2022 at the WA Community Awards hosted by the Organisation of African Communities (OAC).
Congratulations John - a well-deserved recognition for all the hard work, effort and heart in what you do.
How did John's story engage you?
Would you like to volunteer for a cause you believe in?
Does the United Nations SDGs inspire your daily decision making?
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