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Prof. Prathapan OAM: King’s Birthday Honours 2024

The Northern Territory’s Prof. Sabaratnam Prathapan was recognised for his service to tertiary education, and to the community.

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Prof. Sabarathnam Prathapan of Lyons, Northern Territory, was recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours this year for his service to tertiary education and to the community where he has lived and served.

“The community service I have done over the last forty-five years, has given me immense satisfaction,” Prof. Prathapan told Indian Link. “Getting recognised with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) award makes me very happy.”

Prof. Prathapan has held various senior positions in the Charles Darwin University as Associate Professor of Engineering and also as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Vocational Education and Training).

He began at the university as a lecturer in civil engineering in1978.

He has also held numerous positions at the Darwin Institute of Technology, the Institute of TAFE, the Union of Australian College Academics, the Office of Multicultural Affairs Northern Territory and the Northern Territory Employment and Training Authority.

Born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Prof. Prathapan studied Civil Engineering in the United Kingdom. He later moved to Singapore where he was offered the position of lecturer in civil engineering. He enjoyed teaching and interacting with young minds and chose to remain a teacher all his life.

Sabarathnam Prathapan - kings birthday honors
Prof. Sabarathnam Prathapan (Source: Rotary District Darwin)

“It is a matter of great pride and honour when an old student walks up to me and greets me,” he said with humility. “It makes me happy to see my students, who are now spread all across the globe, succeed in their careers.”

Prof. Prathapan has established scholarships with personal funding for deserving students. He has also been very appreciative of the Australian-Indigenous Educational scholarship, having seen the positive impact it has had on First Nations people.

“When a young schoolgirl belonging to the Indigenous community was supported with a scholarship, she went on to get post graduate qualifications from Sydney University,” Prof. Prathapan recounted. “She is now a role model for many youngsters. This is the transformative power of education.”

It is perhaps this desire for social change that urged Prof. Prathapan to embrace community service many years ago. It is something that continues to this day as a defining quality.

Prof. Prathapan is currently the vice-president of the Hindu Society of the Northern Territory, previously having served as president for over twenty years.  He was one of the founding members to build a Hindu temple in Darwin. “This temple has been a hub of socio-cultural activities and a common place of worship for people from many countries like India, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Malaysia and other countries,” he described.

Sabarathnam Prathapan 2024 kings birthday honors
Prof. Prathapan OAM is currently the vice-president of the Hindu Society of the Northern Territory (Source: Charles Darwin University)

Prof. Prathapan has also served the Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory in various capacities – as President, Treasurer, Executive committee member. He has contributed to the building of a cultural centre, ‘Harmony Hall’, which is used by all people of Darwin for various social activities. This popular hall is also used as a cyclone shelter.

How would he advise new migrants to become successful Australians?

“Assimilate into the mainstream and contribute to the communities you live in.”

When asked about his future plans, Prof. Prathapan expressed, “I would like to continue my community-based activities – I still hope to give more back to the community that nurtured me and shaped my success.”

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