40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians for 2020


We are pleased to announce our CEO, Sally Hetherington OAM, has been named one of the 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians for 2020.

The Awards are an initiative of Asialink at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, Johnson Partners and PwC Australia, and form part of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit (AALS) 2020.

This initiative seeks to confront Australia’s “bamboo ceiling” – the underrepresentation of Asian-Australians in leadership positions – in a period when the impact of COVID-19 have resulted in an upsurge of racism and discrimination directed at Asian-Australians. Now is the time to celebrate the powerful contribution of Asian-Australians to this country.

Sally was named on this list as she is committed to driving Australia’s engagement with Cambodia in a respectful way. She says,

“I strongly believe that Cambodians are resilient, resourceful and innovative. Unfortunately, there is a social inequality between Australia and Cambodia. For many years we have been sold the message that people in Cambodia are ‘hopeless’ and can only develop their country with hands-on help from Australians. The figures speak for themselves; up to 10 million people worldwide are cumulatively spending up to $2 billion a year on voluntourism activities. These activities include teaching, building work and maintenance. They are tasks that Cambodians are more than capable of doing. This approach to development is disempowering and unsustainable.

To drive Australia’s engagement with Cambodia, I frequently speak on panels, at universities, service clubs and conferences about the unintended consequences of voluntourism in Cambodia and provide opportunities for Australians to make the shift to ethical travel.

I use my blog, speaking engagements and my published manifesto, ‘It’s Not About Me’ to educate Australians on how voluntourism is not a sustainable solution for communities. I run philanthropic field trips to Cambodia to raise funds for HHA. I have reached thousands of people over the past few years. This is a conversation which can be difficult to facilitate; however, by presenting my lived experiences and in-depth knowledge (and the success of HHA), I have been able to change perceptions.”

‍Past winners include academic and Super Star of STEM Dr Muneera Bano writer, and broadcaster Benjamin Law, educator Eddie Woo, barrister Astrid Haban-Beer, and many more. You can view the full list of recipients here.

Congratulations, Sally!


Leave your comment