|Young achiever: Kalyan Ky. (Pictures: Ted Kloszynski)|
|Greater Dandenong honours Kalyan Ky and other key achievers|
GREATER Dandenong's 2011 Young Achiever of the Year is using her experiences as a refugee to help other young people in the area.
Kalyan Ky, 24, was awarded at the City of Greater Dandenong Australia Day celebration last week along with Citizen of the Year Ruth Hartnett, Good Neighbour of the Year Raymond Johnston and Non-Resident of the Year Barbara Siddall.
Ms Ky's parents left Cambodia as refugees in the late 1980s, first heading to Malaysia, then New Zealand, before settling in Australia about seven years ago.
Ms Ky said it was a difficult time but since living in Keysborough, she had felt safe and supported.
She is chairwoman of the Ethnic Youth Council, involved with the Asia-Pacific Youth Network and Creative Voices, and also serves on the government's advisory board for multicultural affairs - all while studying her PhD.
"You don't do it for yourself, you do it for other people," she said.
One of Ms Ky's major projects is the development of The World Through Me, a faith and culture creative encyclopedia aiming to reduce the stigma surrounding multiculturalism.
Reducing stigma about different cultures is one of Ms Ky's passions.
"Sometimes we forget how beautiful diversity is.
"The role of the Ethnic Youth Council is to give every young person a voice, regardless of their background. It's giving opportunities to people who otherwise would not get the opportunity."
Ms Ky is also a talented writer and musician, playing the violin, guitar and piano.
Citizen of the Year Ms Hartnett was recognised for her tireless work supporting the Dandenong Hospital.
Through her position on the hospital ladies auxiliary, her fund-raising activities and her role as a support and guide to patients, Ms Hartnett has made a significant difference to the lives of some of Greater Dandenong's most sick and vulnerable residents, as well as lightening the load of staff and families who care for them.
Good Neighbour of the Year Mr Johnston has spent hundreds hours of his time researching and sharing the history of Noble Park and Keysborough.
He has been a resident of Keysborough for more than 50 years and is always trying to find new ways of promoting positive change in the area.
Ms Siddall does not live in Greater Dandenong but has committed 20 years of her life to easing the load of struggling families in the area through her work with Cornerstone, which combines welfare assistance with a drop-in facility.