Shashi Kochhar OAM recognised at Victorian Seniors Awards 2023

The septuagenarian founder of Friends of the Children Foundation, Kochhar was one of 19 seniors recognised by the Victorian Government initiative

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Shashi Kant Kochhar OAM has received a Council on the Ageing (COTA) Award at this year’s Victorian Seniors Awards, held on 11 Oct at Government House, Melbourne.

Kochhar is the founder of Friends of The Children Foundation, a not-for-profit assisting children’s hospitals, who also run a Bread Brigade distributing leftover bread to vulnerable communities.

Kochhar was previously honoured with an Order of Australia Medal on Australia Day in 2019 and has also received numerous awards from the City of Monash. He says receiving this latest award from the Victorian Government has been heartening and encourages him to persevere with his work.

“[This recognition] gives me more strength,” Kochhar told Indian Link. “I get the enthusiasm to do more and do better. It gives me energy or ammunition to go out and show people and share my experiences.”

Kochhar has been a regular blood donor with the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood since 1997 and fundraises annually for the Royal Children Hospital’s Good Friday appeal. He has served as a Justice of the Peace since 2012, during which time he has completed over 450 shifts across Victoria.

But for Kochhar, it all comes back to putting smiles on people’s faces.

“I really enjoy it because I can see happy faces when I do something for them,” he says. “That’s a bigger bonus than anything else in life, it’s motivating me to carry on in my work.”

Kochhar has been a dedicated volunteer for over 30 years, migrating to Australia in 1978 with just a suitcase and several dollars. He feels strongly about giving back to the community for the opportunities afforded to him as a migrant.

“I want to show gratitude, to the land, to the people and everybody around me who gave me so much love and respect,” says Kochhar. “That’s how it started, and it’s still going, because it’s an ongoing process.”

The Victorian Seniors Awards are presented annually as part of Victorian Seniors Week, and recognise Victorians aged 60 years and over who share their skills, experience, time, and energy with the community.

Now in his 70s, Kochhar feels strongly that senior citizens can offer multitudes to the community.

“Seniors have got much knowledge and wealth of wisdom to share. But most of the time we suppress their desires, and they get disheartened,” Kochhar says. “[I want them] to be acknowledged and appreciated and pass on their message to the next generation.”

The COTA award recognises his significant contributions to the Monash community, where he is a member of Lions Club Oakleigh, the Monash Multifaith Group, the Monash Men’s Shed and the Monash Disability Consultative Group.

A Monash local, Shashi Kochhar OAM believes in unconditional supporting the community, and plans to keep volunteering as long as possible.

“People think [volunteering] is only when you have something to do or feel like doing something,” he says. “But actual volunteering is when somebody needs you, in the same way you are there when your friend needs you.”

READ ALSO: Five South Asian women inducted into Victorian Honour Roll

Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy is an emerging journalist and theatre-maker based in Melbourne.

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