Queen’s Birthday Honours: Romola Sebastianpillai, OAM

Romola Sebastianpillai honoured with OAM for her charitable activities

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Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “Do small things with great love,” best describes the life of Darwin’s Romola Marie Sebastianpillai.

“I am honoured and humbled to get this prestigious award,” says Romola, who has been living in Darwin ever since she and her family migrated to Australia in 1977.

A native of Sri Lanka, Romola recollects that her early years in Darwin revolved solely around raising her two daughters. But soon she began to volunteer at a few organisations as she felt the need to assimilate into the Australian society and give back to the country for providing her family the best of everything.

Romola started off with the Darwin Film Society as a Secretary, and soon she joined a public speaking club to hone her skills and train migrants who wanted to learn this skill to get on in this society. Her ability to constantly learn new things yet find time to help and train others didn’t go unnoticed and she was duly elected President of the Society, a post she held for many years.

Around the same time, she also joined Cancer Council of the Northern Territory as a volunteer. “Both my parents died of cancer and I felt this was a good way of paying respects to my parents,” she recalled. Romola worked as the volunteer Roster Coordinator for many years in the Council and she also had volunteers working under her on projects raising funds to help patients suffering from the disease. For her unwavering dedication, constant efforts and services, she was awarded with a Life Membership by the Council.

Romola’s zest for life is an inspiration to us all. In spite of having her hands full, she joined a community based not-for-profit Irish dance school, Rince Na H’Eireann Darwin Irish Association. Speaking to Indian Link, she reminisced about her younger days in Sri Lanka where she had learnt this dance form while at school.

Romola thought it would be a good way of pursuing her passion for dance along with helping other dancers take an interest in this culture and gain confidence in their personal lives. Her excellent leadership qualities once again came to the fore, and she was made President of the group which is currently a thriving institution in the Territory.

She was also a recipient of the Fair Go Medal, Pride of Australia, 2015 for her outstanding contributions to the community.

Romola’s message to the youth of this country is that volunteering leads to happiness in many ways.

“You learn to give back to society what you have gained out of it. I am a very happy, contented woman by doing what I have done for the past 35 years. I encourage all young people to give a little bit of their time to the community and feel a sense of gratification in it.”

When asked about her future plans, Romola said “My main aim is to help anyone in need. I am in good health as I take good care of myself and have exercised regularly for the past 30 years. I hope to continue working with the Cancer Council of the Northern Territory and also play a leading role in the Irish Dance School which is really close to my heart.”

And all this, while she plays doting grandma to her three adorable grandchildren, Callum, Serena and little Bella.