Welfare warrior

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Dr V P Unnikrishnan is awarded OAM for service to the Malayalee community of Queensland

Dr. Pilla. Indian Link

As the Indian international students’ crisis raged on a few years ago, Dr V P Unnikrishnan set about doing his bit to help ease the situation. With the help of his team at the Federation of Indian Communities Queensland (FICQ), he organised a ‘Meet and Greet’ event to facilitate the betterment of relationships between Indian students and university authorities.

“We had Vice Chancellors and administration staff from the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University joining us to interact with the international students from India in the backdrop of the attacks,” Dr Unnikrishnan recounted to Indian Link.

Terms were negotiated to assist both parties, which found warm reception on both sides.

This is but one instance in a list of welfare activities by Dr Unnikrishnan in Brisbane, where he is well-known as founder-member and first Secretary of the FICQ, an umbrella body that brings together 37 different community-based organisations.

He is also one of the founders of the Malayalee Association of Queensland, having served as President during 2005-2008.

Talking with Indian Link, he also recollected memories of co-ordinating the first Deepavali fair in Queensland that saw around 30,000 people attending.

For these and other welfare endeavours, Dr Unnikrishnan was named on the OAM honours list this Queen’s Birthday.

“I see this honour as an invaluable recognition of the work that I have done in multiple arenas that include the community and charitable activities; not to forget my role as the Principal Advisor at the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland,” Dr Unnikrishnan said.

Boasting a history of 20 years in community work, Dr Unnikrishnan has long-lasting associations with charitable organisations. He is the founder and chairman of the Jvala Charitable and Cultural Society that provides medical help as well as basic amenities to the underprivileged in India. A recipient of several honours, he considers the two Australia Day Awards that he has received to be the most significant of all – the first for his work with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and the second for his profound involvement in the community activities. The two awards clearly show how well Dr Unnikrishnan has managed to balance his work life and his passion.

A doctorate in Marine Sciences, Dr Unnikrishnan worked for the Kerala State Government before moving to Australia a couple of decades ago.

He came here for a brief holiday, and decided he wanted to live and work here. Soon he was back in the country, doing a short stint in Sydney before moving to Queensland.

He is gracious in recognising the support of his family. “They have stood by me as I faced many challenges in the various realms that I have been active in.”

He currently holds the position of patron in multiple community and spiritual organisations. Asked about future directions, he claims to be all for stepping aside for the next generation to take up key positions in community organisations.

“I will be more than happy to provide guidance and insight, as our community makes its mark as part of the wider mainstream.”

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