Meet the Presidents

Reading Time: 6 minutes

These prolific heroes unite the community’s seniors and ensure their wellbeing, says GEORGE THAKUR

Liladhar Jeraj

Jerry and Kamla Jeraj.

President, Fiji Indian Senior Citizens Association (FISCA)

Liladhar, endearingly called ‘Jerry’, was born in Fiji, attended Brisbane Grammar School and worked at Price-Waterhouse & Co. After completing Accountancy, he became a member and is now Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.

Jerry met Kamla, a nursing sister in Brisbane, married her in 1965, returned to Fiji and was a partner in Coopers & Lybrand (now Price-Waterhouse-Coopers). They immigrated to Australia in 1996, but doctors diagnosed that Jerry might never overcome his ailments. A decade ago, however, he partially recovered and in 1995 became President of Fiji Indian Senior Citizens Association (FISCA). Since then he is proud to have changed the course of the organisation by determining that FISCA would celebrate festivals of all major faiths with equal gusto. While speakers are carefully selected to present insight into their faiths to FISCA members, topics of a controversial nature are also allowed free discussion. Jerry initiated weekly exercise classes that are conducted by qualified trainers, and there are at least two bus trips a year to country Victoria for members to enjoy.

In 2007, Jerry registered the charitable Lalita Jeraj Trust in Fiji, and named it after his mother. The Trust engages itself in granting scholarships to underprivileged, but promising children. The Trust has helped a number of students to complete their degrees and gain employment. In 2012 alone, fourteen students were the recipients of scholarships in the field of Accounting. In addition, the Trust supports at least 10 students in Form 7 each year. Their other interests include singing bhajans.

Jerry plays golf at least twice a week and firmly believes that had it not been for Kamla, a tower of strength for him in good times and bad, he would be nowhere. Jerry may be contacted at ljeraj@optusnet.com.au

Sri Krishen Auplish

Sri Krishen Auplish

Founder, Indian Seniors Forum (ISF)

Sri Krishen Auplish, since an early age, has been involved in social work. In 1964, he formed a Residents Welfare Association in New Delhi, which resulted in the change of name from Alexandra Place to Ashok Place. From 1969 – 81, Auplish helped develop Swasthya Vihar, a colony in New Delhi with 375 houses and 64 flats, and was closely associated with the government of India’s Thrift & Credit Society Ltd.; the very first Co-op Society of India with 5000 plus members, established in 1903, and presided by President Fakharuddin Ali Ahmed. Aulish had the privilege of participating in the celebration of Society’s Golden, Diamond and Platinum Jubilees.

Auplish migrated to Australia in 1993, served under FIAV from 1995-2000, helped launch Indian Senior Citizens Association and was one of its founder members. In 2000, he moved to Sydney and was involved in the establishment of Indian Retirement Homes, started Indian Senior Citizens Forum as an initiative of Sewa International and two Seniors Centres, and hosted Indian Seniors Associations from Canberra and Brisbane.

Returning to Melbourne in 2005, he started Indian Seniors Forum that functions in Camberwell and in Dandenong. As Auplish’s endeavour has consistently been to serve the cause of Indian seniors without charge, the Forum’s monthly meetings arrange information sessions on topics that directly concern seniors, entertainment, outings and other activities, with emphasis on performances by seniors for seniors. Sri Krishen and his wife Nirmal Kanta Auplish volunteer at the Community Volunteer Scheme, New Hope Foundation, they visit various Aged Care Homes and socialise with disabled Indian residents.

Prem Phakey

President of Indian Senior Citizens Association (ISCA)

Academician Dr. Prem Phakey taught Physics to students of Science, Engineering and Medicine at Monash University from 1964 to 1994. During this period, he supervised various PhD, MSc., and BSc. (Honours) students, and was instrumental in gaining Monash grants from various sources. Retired as Reader in Physics and as Honorary Lecturer for Gemmology Association of Australia, Victorian Division from 1973-2002, Prem’s speciality lies in the fields of crystallography, microscopy and optics, together with special interests in minerals, gemstones and diamonds.

Prem is the founder President of Indian Senior Citizens Association (ISCA) and is now in the role again. “I was there when ISCA was born,” so stipulates Prem, “and I am still here for ISCA!” He has an extensive wish-list for the welfare of ISCA saying, “I would like ISCA in the hands of those who are as passionate as I am about the welfare, progress, and long term survival of ISCA for the benefit of future members. In this manner I serve my Mother India.” Mrs Usha Phakey is a retired teacher. Prem may be contacted on prem.phakey@bigpond.com

Santhosh Kumar

President and life member, Northern Region Indian Seniors Association, (NRISA)

Mathematician Dr. Santosh Kumar arrived in Melbourne in 1970, joined the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, and is Honorary Associate at University of Melbourne. Santosh obtained his doctorate from University of Delhi and has been associated with various universities in Australia and overseas. He has worked for various community organisations such as Australia India Society of Victoria (AISV), India Club, Hindi Niketan, Indian Music Association, etc., and is an Executive Committee Member of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, and Chairman of its Publications sub-committee.

As founder President and life member of Northern Region Indian Seniors Association, (NRISA), Santhosh’s community and academic work has resulted in several awards such as the Ren Potts Award of the Australian Society for Operations Research in 2009; Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Community Service Award in 2009, and Award of Recognition for his contributions to Science and the Profession of Operations Research by the Operations Research Society of South Africa in 2011. One societal impediment that concerns him is the limited transportation that restricts the large Indian community spread over distant suburbs from attending meetings at a handful of association venues, when compared to other communities with senior associations. Mrs. Bala Kumar owned an Indian restaurant and was involved in various businesses. Santosh may be contacted on Santosh.Kumarau@gmail.com

Usha Sharma

President, Kingston Indian Senior Citizens Association (KISCA)

Born in Fiji and having lived in India, Usha her late husband from Kolkata, and their two children immigrated to Australia in 1985. Since then, Usha has played a number of exciting and diverse roles in her life. As Multicultural Commissioner for the Indian community, Usha received the Centenary Medal in 2003, in recognition of services for the welfare of young people. Her name is inscribed on the Shilling Wall of the Queen Victoria Women Centre in recognition of her work with women in the wider community. Today, amongst other things, she works with disabled children and teenagers, is involved with various charitable institutions, and presents a number of Hindi programmes on radio.

As Kingston Indian Senior Citizens Association (KISCA) president, Usha’s aim is to maintain an atmosphere where all may let their hair down, socialise with each other, share in breaking bread and have fun in their twilight years. Aging for Usha does not mean that her members stop living; it means that they enjoy two-way friendships, performances of various artists in monthly meetings, spend time together playing bingo or antakshri, etc., visit the Victorian countryside and be there for one another in times of need or otherwise.

“As Master of Ceremonies at the AR Rehman show at the Rod Laver Arena, Sonu Nigam concert, Johnny Lever, Pupinder Mintu shows and Ghulam Ali’s concert, I believe I have served my country India, through these events,” says Usha. Mario Rodrigues, Usha’s partner, works for the government of Victoria. Usha may be contacted on usha.kisca@yahoo.com.au

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