Australia Day Ambassadors are playing a role yet again in Jan 26 celebrations across various states, contributing in their own way to community engagement and cultural diversity.
Indian-origin Australians are beginning to make their presence felt here.
In NSW, a diverse group of Ambassadors has been actively participating in events and activities for years now. This year community sweetheart and our favourite scientist Professor Veena Sahajwalla FAA FTSE HonFIEAust CPEng, joins the list, representing the City of Parramatta and bringing to her innovative spirit as an inventor.
Young lawyer Khushaal Vyas, a Multicultural NSW Youth Medal Winner, Desis For Yes co-founder and powerful orator, is doing the honours at Lachlan Shire Council.
Sonia Gandhi, entrepreneur and a Board Member of Multicultural NSW, will be at Junee Shire Council.
Kumud Merani, former Producer at SBS Radio and Premier’s Multicultural Media Award Winner, will attend at Fairfield City Council, and filmmaker Anupam Sharma will be at Federation Council, Corowa.
Say hello to the Newcastle-based Promilla Gupta OAM, the Premier’s 2018 Multicultural Regional Community Medal Winner, at Hilltops Council, Harden.
Reflecting on the role, Khushaal Vyas emphasised the opportunity that being an Australia Day Ambassador provides. “It allows me to reflect on both the positive strides we’ve made as a country but also on how we can be better and improve in the areas we are falling behind on,” he told Indian Link, stressing the importance of advocating for multiculturalism and Indigenous affairs.
Dr Veena Sahajwalla says we must reflect on the impact of our contributions to society.
“My role at the UNSW Smart Centre revolves around advancing recycling and remanufacturing solutions,” said Dr Sahajwalla. ‘This enables me to demonstrate that the fields of science and technology, with a particular emphasis on recycling due to its universal relevance, play a pivotal role in fostering positive societal and communal changes. This, in turn, enhances the overall quality of life in a remarkable country like Australia. ‘
In Victoria, Deepak Vinayak OAM JP, a cross-culture champion, brings his passion for diversity to the Ambassador Program.
Vinayak was the first person of Indian origin to be appointed as Australia Day Ambassador in Victoria.
“Whether we are born here, are migrants or seek refuge here, there’s a place for us all. We must remember it’s not my Australia or your Australia. It’s our Australia,” he told Indian Link.
Queensland sees the dynamic Taj Pabari, one of Australia’s youngest and most successful social entrepreneurs, serving as an Ambassador in Hinchin Brookshire Council.
Moving westward, Western Australia boasts the contributions of Nilesh Makwana from the Shire of Esperance, and Asha Bhat from the City of Nedlands.
For Auspire council Ambassador Asha Bhat OAM, being an Australia Day ambassador means being a catalyst for unity and pride, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and diversity.
“It’s a personal commitment to championing these values, shaping a collective celebration that reflects the essence of Australia Day for me,” Ms Bhat told Indian Link.
Nilesh Makwana took a historical perspective, stating, “For me, 26 January is an important date in Australia’s history that has evolved over time,” recognising the day as a chance to celebrate the nation’s diversity and honour the survival, resilience, and enduring culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Meanehile in South Australia, Major-General (Retd) Vikram Madan OAM VSM is making a significant impact . Having served in the Indian Army, he chairs the Multicultural Aged Care Inc and acts as an Ambassador for the OzAsia Festival. Vikram’s eight-year commitment to fostering multiculturalism in South Australia has been marked by voluntary efforts to encourage, nurture, and promote diversity.
Vikram Madan told Indian Link it is a privilege to be an Australia Day Ambassador
“I have been Australia Day Ambassador for five years. All of us who have migrated to this beautiful country have a story to tell. It is an amazing experience to hear these stories from so many people in metropolitan and regional councils in SA, where I am invited to Citizenship ceremonies. I feel privileged to be an Ambassador,” he said.
The Australia Day Ambassador Program stands as one of the enduring and triumphant national initiatives during Australia Day, reaching more than 300 community celebrations across the country each year. This longstanding program features distinguished individuals, including past recipients of the Australian of the Year Awards, and leading citizens in the fields of arts, sport, science, medicine, business, education, voluntary work and the like. These Ambassadors play a crucial role in instilling inspiration and fostering pride within Australia Day events and activities nationwide.
The official website lists their responsibilities as: Out in their communities, they (may) hand out Australia Day community awards, judge lamington competitions, preside over thong-throwing challenges, help cook sausage sizzles, mingle with locals over a cup of tea … (or) join local community sports (events). They may also give an address that captures the spirit of being Australian and present certificates at awards ceremonies.
The India-born Ambassadors are contributing not just to the festivities but also to the ongoing dialogue about the nation’s history, diversity, and the path forward. Their unique perspectives and backgrounds enhance this national celebration, making them a true reflection of the multicultural tapestry that defines us as Australians.