Sydney transport operator with a big heart receives Australia Day honours

The man behind a Sydney-based charity and trucking operation, Amar Singh, has been named the 2023 Australian of the Year Local Hero.

Singh came to Australia in 1998 at the age of 15, from Punjab in northern India; and became an Australian citizen in 2000.

After experiencing racial slurs and insults because of his Sikh turban and beard, he wanted to show people they didn’t need to be afraid. With that in mind, he launched his charity Turbans 4 Australia in 2015. Its goal is to help struggling Australians.

Last year he launched the charity’s logistics arm, Green and Gold Charity Logistics, all while running his own transport company too.

Every week, Turbans 4 Australia packages and distribute up to 450 food and grocery hampers to people experiencing food insecurity in Western Sydney. He uses his trucking experience to keep everything running smoothly.

The charity also raises awareness and funds for important causes while promoting multiculturalism and religious tolerance. But the organisation is best known around Australia for transporting emergency goods to those in need.

Turbans 4 Australia has delivered hay to farmers experiencing drought; supplies to flood victims in Lismore and bushfire-impacted people on the South Coast; food hampers to the isolated and vulnerable during Covid-19 lockdowns; and supplies to the Salvation Army in central Queensland in the devastating wake of Cyclone Marcia.

Singh’s Australia Day honour comes after he was named NSW Local Hero at the NSW 2023 Australian of the Year Awards in November.

Yesterday, Singh also presented the official Australia Day address in Western Sydney, where he shared his inspiring story.

Singh arrived in Australia with his mother and three siblings. “Our life in Australia started out of a suitcase, which we packed with joy for a new beginning. Wrapping up our existence in Punjab, leaving so many family members and friends behind, driving to the airport I was wondering: What was Sydney going to be like?” he recalled.

“All of us migrants pack our lives into a suitcase,” he continued. “We rush to pack those bags in excitement to start a life here and then when we land at one of the airports around Australia, often isolation and loneliness sets in – a new country where you don’t know anyone, and you have to start from scratch. So, I pay my respect to all the migrants who have no choice but to start on menial jobs… They put aside their degrees at that time to put food on the table for their families.”

Singh said his story is one that comes from the heart, of “a man who fought for his place in Australian society. It wasn’t all easy.”

Despite feelings of loneliness and experiencing racism that made him sick to his stomach, he revealed, “There were many times my spirit was tested but never broken.”

He continued, “I’m a proud Sikh, a migrant and a true-blue Aussie. I had changed the mind of one person by being open and reaching out. I thought we need to try harder. I was not willing to be the butt of someone’s ignorant jokes. It is about saying no to direct and indirect racism and making casual racist comments and remarks is not a humour because simply a fellow Aussie has a different faith or appearance.”

And it was all of these experiences that led him to launch Turbans 4 Australia. At first it was a small group of volunteers working together to help local causes. Now it is a national charity with over 300 volunteers.

The Green and Gold Charity Logistics trucks are used to pick up bulk donations and get them quickly to wherever it is that they are needed.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs congratulated Singh on his latest achievement. “As the proud sponsors of this Australian of the Year Awards category, we thank you for your tireless work promoting multicultural and religious tolerance in our diverse society,” it said.

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