Campbelltown community advocate earns top honour

Picture: Supplied

Picture: Supplied

Malaemie Fruean is proud to not only be a member of the Macarthur community, but a member of the Pacific Islander community as well.

Ms Fruen's efforts to build, support and enhance her community has been rewarded with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

The Minto resident is being recognised for her service to the Pacific communities of New South Wales.

"When I first saw the email, I was like, 'what? is this a joke?'," Ms Fruean said.

"I was very honoured.

"I don't do this work to get these kinds of rewards, I do it because it is my passion but it is nice to be recognised.

"It's humbling too, because I am usually running awards for other people, not getting my own - it is super overwhelming.

"I am receiving this award knowing that I have had many people who have walked side-by-side with me the whole way."

Ms Fruean is a founding member of the South West Multicultural and Community Centre and she has been a mental health first aid educator for the Pacific Mental Health Initiative since 2019.

The avid community advocate also serves on several multicultural advisory boards for various organisations.

"I am Maori from New Zealand and I have been living in Australia for 36 years now," she said.

"I love having the opportunity to connect and be involved in building relationships within the community at all levels - that's grassroots, frontline, decision makers and politicians.

"I love working within diverse communities but my passion is working with Maori and other Pacific Island cultures."

Ms Fruean has also been the chairperson for the New South Wales Council for Pacific Communities and NSW Pacific Awards since 2014.

"The awards came about after a conversation with a young person who asked me years ago why the only portrayal of us in the media is negative - they said to me that we have amazing creatives, entertainers and academics of pacific backgrounds as well," she said.

"So we started the awards. The first one had 30 nominees and 100 guests.

"The last time it ran in 2019 we had more than 150 nominees and more than 600 guests.

"It's our narrative so we need to tell it ourselves."

Ms Fruean said she and her husband, Charlie, had called Macarthur home for the past 25 years.

"I love this place," she said.

"When we moved out here we thought it was out in the 'wopwops', but we have loved being a part of the community here.

"I love the diversity we have here - all five of my children and 12 grandchildren are a part of the Macarthur community too."

Several Macarthur residents and community representatives received Queen's Birthday Honours today, including: