SBS announcer Les Murray sits in the grandstand at the World Cup in South Africa
@ SBS

The Australia for UNHCR – SBS Les Murray Award for Refugee Recognition recognises and celebrates the contribution of refugees who are helping shine a light on the situation of forcibly displaced people through their work or initiatives in the arts, sports or media.

The Award is in commemoration of Les Murray AM, sports journalist and broadcaster and much loved host of The World Game on SBS television. Les used his public profile and his own story as a refugee to promote and advocate for refugee rights.

The Award recipient will receive $10,000, generously donated by SBS, in recognition of their contribution and to help encourage positive awareness for refugees.

Nominations are sought from authors, artists, actors, community leaders, sports people, film-makers and journalists who have settled in Australia as refugees.

Anyone can nominate an individual for the Award. An individual may also nominate themselves.

“Refugees contribute so much more than we cost. We need to hear the stories of success.”

Danijel Malbasa, Les Murray Award winner 2022

Les Murray Danijel Malbasa 2

Behind the Award

Les Murray was an iconic Australian football broadcaster and a former refugee who embarked on a lifelong mission to make Australia understand the power of football to break down barriers and unite people. He was a strong advocate for human rights and refugees, drawing on his own experience of fleeing Hungary in 1956 to reach eventual safety in Australia.

The Award is supported by Les’ daughters Tania and Natalie Murray.

Selection and eligibility criteria

Nominations are sought from authors, artists, actors, community leaders, sports people, film-makers and journalists who have settled in Australia as refugees.

To be considered for the Award, nominations should demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Nominees must be individuals who have settled in Australia as a refugee
  • Demonstrated contribution to raising positive awareness of refugees and forcibly displaced people through arts, sports or media
  • Commitment to continuing to engage Australians in support of refugees through their artistic, sporting or media initiatives
  • As part of the award entry requirements, nominees must show a willingness to engage in Australia for UNHCR and SBS events and participate in media coverage on Australia for UNHCR and SBS media platforms as requested.

How to apply

Submissions must explain how nominated individuals fulfil the selection criteria.

  • Please provide a brief biography and overview of nominee’s refugee journey and resettlement (150 words max)
  • Please provide examples of the nominee’s work and their commitment to raising positive awareness of refugees and forcibly displaced people (250 words max)
  • Please provide details on how the nominee has engaged Australian communities in support of refugees through their artistic, sporting or media initiatives (250 words max)
  • Up to five additional materials can be attached in support of the nomination, including: news reports, features and/or documentaries; social media posts or other images; published work; works of art; other accolades

Nominations must also include at least two references to verify the nominee’s work and how they have made an impact on Australian society.

Please note: Current employees of SBS and UNHCR and their immediate families are ineligible to apply for the Les Murray Award.

If you have any questions or would like to submit a nomination please email us here - [email protected]

Les Murray Award FAQs

Who can nominate?

Anyone can nominate another individual for the award. An individual may also nominate themselves.

Who can be nominated for The Australia for UNHCR – SBS Les Murray Award for Refugee Recognition?

Anyone can nominate for the Award, as long as they fit within the selection criteria. However, current employees of SBS and UNHCR and their immediate families are not eligible to apply.

Who are you looking for in a nomination?

The Award will honour refugees who through their contribution in the arts, sports or media have engaged Australians and raised positive awareness about the situation of refugees.

Nominations will be sought from authors, artists, actors, community leaders, sports people, film-makers and journalists who have settled in Australia as refugees.

How is the award being judged?

The Award will be judged by a selected committee. Our panel will be looking for a refugee living in Australia who has made a significant contribution to the community and who raised positive awareness about the situation of refugees.

The Award selection committee consists of:

  • Chair – Australia for UNHCR (Board member and former Head of ABC Radio Kate Dundas)
  • UNHCR Country Representative (Adrian Edwards)
  • SBS Representative (Director of Audio and Language content and former Vietnamese refugee, David Hua)
  • Community Representative (former Ugandan refugee, Ann Odong)

Ensure you follow the selection criteria to be considered.

What is the selection criteria?

To be considered for the Award, nominations should demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Nominees must be individuals who have settled in Australia as a refugee
  • Demonstrated contribution to raising positive awareness of refugees and forcibly displaced people through arts, sports or media
  • Commitment to continuing to engage Australians in support of refugees through their artistic, sporting or media initiatives

What are the requirements for entry?

As part of the award entry requirements, nominees must show a willingness to engage in Australia for UNHCR and SBS events and participate in media coverage on Australia for UNHCR and SBS media platforms as requested.

How many people can win the Award?

One winner will be awarded.

Why is this award named after Les Murray?

The Award commemorates the legacy of Les Murray AM, a celebrated and loved icon of Australian sport and supporter of refugees and human rights.

Les Murray was an iconic Australian football broadcaster and a former refugee who embarked on a lifelong mission to make Australia understand the power of football to break down barriers and unite people. He was a strong advocate for human rights and refugees, drawing on his own experience of fleeing Hungary in 1956 to reach eventual safety in Australia.

Les’ personal account offered Australians a positive view of the refugee journey and experience.

The Award is supported by Les’ daughters Tania and Natalie Murray.

Who is Les Murray?

Les Murray AM (László Ürge) arrived in Australia aged 11 from Hungary as a refugee.

As the voice and face of football on SBS, Les hosted On The Ball, Toyota World Sports and The World Game, covered eight World Cup events and established himself as Australia’s “Mr Football”. To Les, football was the “World Game”, “Beautiful Game” and the “Greatest Show on Earth” – and he understood the power of sport as a pathway for refugees to succeed in Australia.

As Les explained: "Refugees, perhaps more than other immigrants, are more likely to make a positive contribution to their new country, driven by a need to give something in return for being given a chance to start again after a terrible experience."

In 2006, Les was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to football and was also awarded the Australian Sports Commission Media Award Lifetime Achievement Award.

Australians learned more about Les in 2011 through Les Murray’s Mission – a SBS Dateline documentary on his return to Hungary to find those who helped his family escape Soviet occupation in 1956.

His personal account offered Australians a positive view of the refugee journey and experience.