Elleni Bereded-Samuel says that she is driven to make a difference in the lives of other people.

Since arriving in Australia as a refugee from Ethiopia 23 years ago, Mrs Bereded-Samuel has thrown herself into community work.

The Point Cook resident was made a member of the general division of the Order of Australia (AM) last month for her significant service to social welfare and to the African community of Melbourne.

She is vice-president of the Australian-Africa Chamber of Commerce, a director of Western Health, a BreastScreen Victoria board member, a former director of the Royal Women’s Hospital and a former commissioner with the Victorian Multicultural Commission. She has worked at WestCASA, Victoria University and Catholic Care, and is diversity capability development manager at Australian Unity.

In addition, Mrs Bereded-Samuel is the founder of the Horn of Africa Communities Network, which helps migrants from many backgrounds with support, education, training and employment.

“I didn’t do this all by myself – I had great help from my husband and, of course, my children,” she said.

She said that former deputy magistrate Brian Burrow, VicHealth founder Rhonda Galbally, the late Joan Kirner and Australian Unity chief executive Kevin McCoy had also been great support.

“I’m happy where I am,” Mrs Bereded-Samuel said.

“I think it’s important to do your best, whether you are a cleaner, doctor or another professional practitioner – go out and help people.”