Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian AO

Deputy Chair 

Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian AO - Portrait

Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian has been a member of the National Australia Day Council (NADC) Board since 16 October 2019. For more than 50 years, Stepan has played a pivotal role in fostering multiculturalism in Australia.

As Chair and CEO of the Community Relations Commission of NSW (and its predecessor, the Ethnic Affairs Commission of NSW) from 1989 to 2014, he championed debate and policy-change to improve the wellbeing of under-represented communities, on issues like religious practices, immigration law, refugee settlement, migrant qualifications and community relationships.

In his concurrent roles as President and CEO of the Anti-Discrimination Board from 2003 to 2016 he advocated for minority groups and became a major influence in shaping community harmony. From 1980 to 1989 he was the foundation head of SBS Radio and was a pioneer in giving migrant voices a national platform. 

Stepan was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1992, received the Gold Cross in the Order of Merit of Poland in 1990, the Olympic Order in 2000. In 1995 he was made a Fellow of the University of Technology of Sydney and the Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa, from the University of Sydney. In 2011, Stepan was elevated to Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for 'distinguishing service of Australian Community through a range of multicultural and anti-discrimination organisations, development and implementation of public policy and to the promotion of an inclusive society'. In 2013, Stepan was awarded the Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa, from the University of Western Sydney and the NSW Government created 'The "Premier's Stepan Kerkyasharian Medal for Community Harmony' awarded annually on Harmony Day, to recognise outstanding efforts of an individual working to make Australia a fairer and more tolerant place to life. In 2022 he was awarded the Presidential Medal for "Outstanding Achievement" by the President of Cyprus. 

From 2012 to 2022, Stepan was the inaugural Chair of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Board of NSW. He is a Member of the PM Glynn Institute Advisory Board, Deputy Chair of the Diocesan Council of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Deputy Chair of the NSW Federation of Community Languages Schools and has been a NSW Australia Day Ambassador for over 20 years.