Devika Chaudhary, Brimbank Council’s Young Citizen of the Year 2022

22-year-old felicitated for her community work across a wide range of groups and projects.

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For Brimbank City Council’s Young Citizen of the Year 2022 Devika Chaudhary, all it takes is a small gesture to make a difference in the lives of others.

When we think about helping others, we question what impact our efforts will have on them. We may worry about not being able to do enough, perhaps because we believe we might not be sufficiently skilled, resourced or experienced. Or, we might not have the confidence to help others in need.

22-year-old Devika Chaudhary never questions her ability to help others. “We all have something to offer,” she says. “We just need to find it and do it!”

With her positive, outgoing and proactive attitude in life, Devika is the proud co-recipient of the Brimbank City Council’s Young Citizen of the Year award for 2022, for her community work across a wide range of groups and projects.

Children, youth and women from diverse backgrounds form the crux of Devika’s work so far.

Among her vast volunteering commitment is her work as an advisory member for the Brimbank Community Fund for the past two years, finding ways to help the Fund with activities to benefit local youth.

(Image supplied)

Her work includes stints as Advisor to State Library Focus Group (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse People) in 2020; as a member of Council’s Homework Club in 2020; as part of Council’s Mentor Program in 2020-2021, and as a Kids Activity organiser for the McKay Garden Festival 2019-2020.

Born in Delhi, Devika migrated to Victoria with her family at the age of 6. There were difficulties experienced in those early years of adjusting to a new culture. As a young adult, she recognised the challenges that new migrant families typically face, juggling endless priorities and activities. “I recall seeing families migrate from overseas and not understand some of the processes that we now know and take for granted,” she explains. Sharing her experiences and insights with other children and their parents on schooling, culture and family life, she has helped many families feel comfortable as they transition to life in Australia.

Devika’s passion to volunteer comes from her own family. With her mother now the President of the Women of Brimbank, a multicultural women’s support group, Devika continues to play an important role in helping local women build confidence and lead a happy life. As a member of this organisation herself now, she has helped organise COVIDSafe events for local women to keep them connected and supported during isolation.

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As an IPC Health Youth Ambassador of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Devika has also worked to publicise the harm that gambling can cause to youth. Her activities include school outreach projects to make students aware of gambling harm, so that they do not fall into the trap of gambling.

At the age of 15, Devika joined the Australian Air Force cadet program. “I am fascinated by aviation – my grandfather served in the Indian armed forces,” she describes. “During the cadet program, I developed fundamental skills like teamwork, leadership, motivation and confidence. I volunteered across three squadrons to participate in various activities that helped me develop essential skills.”

Towards the end of her 5-year commitment, she progressed to being responsible for teaching between 80-90 new recruits and worked her way to the rank of sergeant.

Currently, Devika is in her final year of a joint Education and Law degree at Victoria University.

“I hope to implement the learnings from both streams in my volunteering work. Law and education are disciplines that will allow me to guide others on a path to a better future.”

Despite the impact of COVID on university life, it is not surprising that Devika found further outlets for her particular passions. Through Victoria University’s Volunteering Program, she wrote countless letters to residents in aged care homes, bringing them comfort and giving them a contact with the outside world.

Through volunteering, Devika claims she has been able to uncover what she is passionate about, and this has contributed to shaping her career trajectory.

“Volunteering not only helps others but allows you to identify and develop your own skills and passions too,” says Devika with wisdom. “You do not have to volunteer all of your time to help someone. All you need to do is offer as much or as little as you can to make a difference. Speaking for myself, I feel I have a lot more to offer.”

With various small (and some large!) gestures, Devika has shown that it does not take much to give back to others, even with a busy schedule.

It is clear she is part of a new breed of youngsters who care deeply about supporting their local community and making it better.

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Carl Buhariwala
Carl Buhariwala
Carl is a freelance reporter who has a passion to promote community events, the work of not-for-profit organisations and new ideas. He enjoys meeting people and documenting their work for others to read.

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