Jaishri Patricia Falcetta OAM: King’s Birthday Honours 2023

Canberra's Jaishri Patricia Falcetta is felicitated for her service to the community through social welfare organisations

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Jaishri Patricia Falcetta was 50 when she was diagnosed with ADHD – a condition that results in attention difficulty and challenges in learning. “When I found out, I could put things together and finally make sense of why I struggled to study and struggled to focus on finishing tasks when I was young,” recalls Falcetta, now 53.

Good thing is Falcetta was already working as a neurodivergent expert, and so, she could use her own experiences to educate people in order to create a safe space for others like her. Her vision is simple but the journey is a long one – she wants a world where people with neurodivergent conditions (such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.) are accepted, integrated and recognised as valuable members of society.

Falcetta’s herculean efforts towards creating this inclusive environment have won her the OAM in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours.

“I am thoroughly honoured,” the Canberra resident smiles. “After this recognition, I really do want to publish a book. I have written 20,000 words of it, and there is still a lot more to go.”

Falcetta’s paternal family’s roots are from Kerala. “My great great grandparents were taken to Fiji as indentured labourers by the British from India; my father was born there. My mother is half Polish, half Irish. Her mother was born in Australia but grew up in New Zealand. In the late ‘60s, my father too moved to New Zealand to attend university and that is where my parents met. I was also born in New Zealand, but we moved to Australia in 1982. So while I have lived in a lot of countries, Australia is my home.”

There are a few members in Patricia Falcetta’s family who either have autism and/or other neurodivergent conditions. While Falcetta’s initial professional experience was in hospitality, insurance and public sector, she quickly moved to secure a certificate in education support so she could work for the cause of neurodivergent individuals. “I have worked in schools in the educational support role in order to offer assistance to neurodivergent students and those with disabilities. One of my goals was to educate people on how a neurodivergent brain works, how they should be treated and how we should create an inclusive educational system where all individuals feel respected and are integrated without any judgements.”

Patricia Falcetta at work
(Photo: Tracey Murray Photography)

But her major inspiration towards her work in this field is her sons – both neurodivergent. “I started my venture called Social Living Solutions in 2016 because of my children.”

Through this initiative, Falcetta supports families with neurodivergent children to relieve their stress and anxiety, to create happiness in and around their home, and to create a better support system within the family for these individuals.

Falcetta is particularly passionate about the struggle women go through to get diagnosed for ADHD and autism. “There is a common misconception that only men have these conditions. For females, especially, to get the diagnosis is very difficult. I have many female clients who initially were misdiagnosed with bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety or depression, and put on the wrong medication. I want to create awareness to change this.”

The stigma associated with neurodivergent conditions is also something that Falcetta addresses during her keynote speeches, seminars and workshops. “Especially the stigma around ADHD is that the individuals are lazy and that they can’t complete tasks and cannot be relied on.”

So how has she overcome this stigma for herself, we ask.

“I have become a massive advocate for ADHD and all neurodivergent persons,” she shares. “I am a public speaker now. I use such platforms to talk about the unconscious biases that come into play in schools and in workplaces. I also speak of the psychological safety that these individuals require for them to feel safe and thrive.”

Patricia Falcetta OAM has been a keynote speaker/presenter/panellist at a range of conferences including Women’s Economic Forum, Bangalore, India, 2020; Ozwater National Conference, Sydney, 2023; International Conference for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Dubai, 2023, and Women’s Leadership Australia Symposium, 2023.

READ ALSO: Kalpana Sriram OAM: King’s Birthday Honours 2023

Prutha Chakraborty
Prutha Chakraborty
Prutha Bhosle Chakraborty is a freelance journalist. With over nine years of experience in different Indian newsrooms, she has worked both as a reporter and a copy editor. She writes on community, health, food and culture. She has widely covered the Indian diaspora, the expat community, embassies and consulates. Prutha is an alumna of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bengaluru.

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