A champion for cultural diversity

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Mallika Prasad-Chowta is awarded the OAM, a Medal of the Order of Australia, for her service to the multicultural community in South Australia

A highly regarded and much loved member of Adelaide’s Indian community, in all her activities Mallika has added lustre, not only to the Indian community but also to the entire fabric of multicultural life in South Australia. She has worked across a number of fields including education, health, the arts, disability, refugee services and community work.

Mallika Prasad-Chowta.Indian Link

How does she feel about being awarded the OAM?

“I feel humbled. I never chased after any awards or leadership positions, strangely enough they somehow came to me,” Mallika told Indian Link. “I am grateful for those who have placed faith in me and gave me the work which I had the good fortune of carrying through. I enjoyed the variety of opportunities that life had to offer; all that I can say is I have been very lucky.”

Mallika Prasad-Chowta hails from Konibail House, near Mangalore, from the Tulu speaking Bunt heritage, and has called Australia home for over 40 years. She migrated to Australia with her husband Dr Attavara Rajendra Prasad in 1975. She had a Bachelor of Science degree and acquired post graduate qualifications in Special Education, Arts Administration and Business Management in Australia. She has been continuously engaged in both community and professional activities while raising her three sons.

Mallika is highly regarded for her reliability, creative approach to tasks and leadership capabilities. She was Manager of Cultural Diversity Services at the State Library of South Australia for close to a decade. She considers this job as one of the highlights of her career. She says it gave her opportunities beyond her imagination and she used these opportunities to do many creative things including recording the migration stories of several ethnic communities in SA, publishing a book of stories from various cultures, and many more ‘firsts’ that added to the rich cultural tapestry of the state.

She served Adelaide’s Indigenous community as a nutrition educator for 16 years with unprecedented success. As a qualified Special Education teacher she worked with children with head injuries and various disabilities.

An artist dabbling in painting, music and dramatics, as a keen supporter of the arts, Mallika has served on the management boards of Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre and Community Arts Network.

She represented the Indian community on SA’s Multicultural Education Committee, and helped bring out two important multicultural resources for teachers – Diversity: Our Strength Our Future and Countering Racism Through Developing Cultural Understanding.

Her services to the Indian community, other than performing and organising events from the 1970s until now, include starting an association of Indian music lovers, Rasik Ranjani in 1982; producing the Indian community radio program on 5EBI in the ‘80s, doing hands-on voluntary work for and serving on the executive committees of the Hindu Society of SA, Vedanta Society Adelaide Chapter, Indian Australian Association of South Australia and more. She was President of IAASA from 2003 to 2005 and is still a very active member.

Mallika was awarded the Pride of Australia Medal in the Fair Go category in 2014. She is a passionate advocate of social responsibility, social justice, and individual and community empowerment through education.

Mallika says her personal guiding principles are, “Be yourself, that is, the best you can be. Also, do to others as you would like to be done to you.”

For the future, Mallika’s aspirations include setting up a social enterprise and work for a worthy cause combining her creative abilities and entrepreneurial skills. She said, “I hope I will be granted that opportunity by the all-pervading Supreme Power that makes all things possible.”

We hope so too.

Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai is a counsellor by profession with interests in writing, radio, emcee'ing, organising and attending events.
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