Carl Buhariwala: Helping the community ‘be informed.’

The inaugural City of Boroondara’s Youth Volunteer award recipient talks about his new project aiding the community to make better decisions

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Twenty-eight-year-old lawyer Carl Buhariwala has always felt strongly about helping the community. As a child, his parents took him to the local Shirdi Sai Sansthan Temple, where he has volunteered for the last 16 years doing everything from kitchen work to media engagement.

“I’m not the type of guy that sits and prays for 60 minutes,” he says. “I’d rather spend 60 minutes cleaning up or fixing something.”

Buhariwala’s early efforts have blossomed into a career full of community engagement. Over the years he has given his time and skills to community legal centres and suburban law firms. He currently mentors Law and Commerce students at Monash University and provides legal aid with Law Help Australia.

Carl Buhariwala credits this long list of engagements to his initiative.

“I’m a very simple person – if I say something, I get it done,” he says. “Other people just talk, talk, talk and nothing happens. I disagree with that behaviour – if you want to get something done, you need to act on it.”

His strong drive for action has led him to found be informed., an online platform providing seminars on a range of matters of community interest, including employment rights, divorce and property settlements and consumer credit. Sessions run between one to two hours and feature handpicked expert presenters.

The project aims to provide the community with the knowledge to make healthy decisions on their affairs, something which Buhariwala feels strongly about.

“Often people make poor decisions because they don’t have the right information, and right now we’re flooded with information, some of which can be wrong,” he says.

“From an information asymmetry perspective, I started be informed. to help people get the right information… I want to lift everyone’s growth.”

Carl Buhariwala’s be informed. sessions are free to attend and run entirely online, with advertisements and registrations managed via social media. Each be informed. session also features a Q&A section and a one-page handout summarising each topic.

Buhariwala stresses the importance of simplicity in this setup.

“It’s nothing fancy… [the handout is] a word document, black and white logo. In everything I do, I’m trying to instil confidence in people that it’s objective, it’s clear, and it’s simple information that they can take away.”

Active for three months, be informed. is run entirely in Buhariwala’s own time, and is independent of any organisations. Despite being in its infancy, be informed. is already garnering a positive response.

“People attend these seminars and then actually call me afterwards saying ‘oh, can you help me with this, and who should I talk to?’ Some of them have contact the presenters to get further help… it’s getting traction.”

Buhariwala hopes to leverage this word-of-mouth response to take be informed. to the next level.

“I’ve got the platform… logistically it’s all set up; operationally, I’m getting presenters to present, so that’s great, but from a participant level I want to see that number grow. Getting that to the next stage is my goal for this year.”

Recently, Buhariwala’s work on be informed. was recognised, winning the City of Boroondara’s 2022 Youth Volunteer award in its inaugural year. He reflects on what the award means to him:

“There’s a gap that needs to be filled, and nothing else exists like be informed. [The award] means to me that the council recognises it’s valuable in society.”

Even amidst his accomplishment, he insists on putting other people first.

“It’s successful because it helps people. The community are also part of the award, it’s not just me taking the credit.”

For other young diaspora who want to follow in his footsteps, Buhariwala offers sage advice.

“You don’t have to start an organisation – if you have something to share, share it,” he says.

“We’ve all got something to share, so take the time to share it. Get out there and get your hands dirty.”

To learn more about Carl Buhariwala’s be informed. visit their Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube pages.

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Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy is an emerging journalist and theatre-maker based in Melbourne.

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