News Release — 13 DECEMBER 2012

Rugby League Star is Recipient of Prestigious Family Values Award

Sydney — 

“The current shift away from the traditional family robs and diminishes our families, and in turn, our society,” said Chris Hartcher, NSW State Minister for Resources and Energy, who was keynote speaker at a community leaders reception held on 8th December at Buckland House, in the Sydney suburb of Carlingford.  Mr Hartcher defined the traditional family as a man and a woman who are married.  When they have children, the parents support, nurture, and care for them.

The reception, organised by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), honoured Hazem El Masri, former top Rugby League player, for his community work with young people and families

Before retiring in 2009, El Masri broke the NRL career point-scoring record and was inducted into the exclusive ‘300’ club, after playing in 317 games. He was one of the first Lebanese Australians to extend the hand of fellowship and friendship when he publicly appealed for calm during the racially-driven Cronulla Beach riots in 2005.

Mr Hartcher praised Mr El Masri for this community work and thanked him for being a positive example to all who knew of him.  He also praised the work of the Latter-day Saints in protecting traditional family values.  

“Devaluing the family seriously weakens a fundamental foundation of our communities,” said Mr Hartcher.  “The Latter-day Saints ‘Proclamation on the Family’ was inspired to make clear and concise the definition on what the family is ordained to be and the need for the traditional family in society.  The family is a time-proven benefit to society.” 

At the reception, Hazem received the prestigious Family Values Award for actively supporting family interests by providing workshops on parenting and the family in the community.  “We are continually touched by the values instilled within us as children.  We must start with our own families and our own children to teach them correct principles, how to love and be loved,” said Mr El Masri.

Hazem’s parents emigrated to Australia when he was a little boy.  “They made great sacrifices in order to give their family a safe and better life,” he said.  Hazem and his wife, Arwa, said they were grateful for those sacrifices and try to continue such service and commitment to their own three children.

Making the presentation to the El Masri family, Atili To’o, president of the Mortdale Stake (diocese) of the Church, complimented them on being such a great example to others.  Mr. Hartcher agreed: “You have supported and shown the importance of building a family unit in our society,” he said.

According to Arwa El Masri, marriage is a beautiful foundation for life.  “When I hear a young woman say that, when she grows up, she wants to get married and have a family, I think how wonderful!  There is nothing more beneficial or more challenging than to bear and nurture a loving prosperous family.”

During the presentation, the 2013 World Congress of Families, to be held in Sydney in May, was introduced to the assembled guests by Dr Justin Coulson, a member of the World Congress of Families Executive Committee.  Dr Coulson completed his PhD  at the University of Wollongong investigating the psychology of parenting.

The Congress theme will be “Happy Families, Healthy Economy,” said Dr Coulson. “When families are happy, people can contribute more to society because they are providing for themselves physically, emotionally, and in many other important ways.  The breakdown of a family costs us, as a nation, billions!”

The World Congress of Families is an annual event conducted in various cities of the world.  It is co-sponsored by numerous organisations, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who believe that the traditional family unit should be protected and enhanced.  Thousands of delegates come from many nations to participate.

Those in attendance at the reception included:

  • Federal parliamentarian, the Hon Philip Ruddock MP (member for Berowra)
  • State parliamentarian and Minister for Resources and Energy, the Hon Chris Hartcher MLA (Terrigal)
  • The Hon David Clarke MLC
  • Dominic Perrottet MLA (Castle Hill) and his wife Helen and their daughters Charlotte and Amelia
  • David Elliott MLA (Baulkham Hills) and his wife Nicole and their boys Lachlan and William
  • Charles Cascucelli MLA (Strathfield) and his wife Maria
  • and Chris Spence MLA (The Entrance). 

Other prominent attendees included Mark Jenkins, a chaplain from the RAAF Base at Richmond, and Mormon leaders from five of the eight stakes in the Sydney region.  Many family members participated in the reception as well.


Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.

Download Photos »