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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3188


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (12:55): Last Saturday I had the pleasure of joining the United Indian Associations in New South Wales in celebrating International Women's Day at the Parramatta town hall. We all know that International Women's Day is celebrated globally on 8 March every year, to inspire women and celebrate their economic, political and social achievements across the myriad of fields in which they act, work and otherwise contribute. I am pleased to say that Saturday's event showed the Women's Forum of the United Indian Associations continuing to work incredibly hard in promoting the work of some extraordinary women in the Indian Australian community. It also gave me an opportunity to wear my sari, which is always fun. It is often commented that, even though I put on the jewellery and sometimes someone put the bindi on my forehead, I do not look particularly Indian, I am afraid. I do not think I ever will. I am told, though, that my hair is not the issue, you can have blonde hair and be Indian, but freckles is not the way of it. But it is a great thing, they are incredibly elegant garments, if you ever get the chance to wear one.

I want to acknowledge five women in particular that were there that day. Mrs Sumati Advani, who is the chairperson of the Women's Steering Committee, has been working incredibly hard behind the scenes in the United India Associations for quite some time. I have attended a number of events where she has brought women together to address some of the issues that they face in the Australian community. She is an amazing woman in her own right. There is Mrs Aruna Chandrala, who is the past President of the UIA and current President of the Global Women's Network, which was in fact launched on Saturday. Again, that is a great initiative, which I think Mrs Advani talked her into, but she has taken to heart a group that brings together women from a range of communities to share their experiences and to get to know some of the extraordinary women that tend to work within their own communities and not get the opportunity sometimes to move out into a broader context and be recognised for the extraordinary contributors that they are.

Three of those extraordinary contributors were awarded for their individual contributions on Saturday. Those three women are particularly worth talking about. The first one was Sheba Nandkeolyar, who was recognised for her achievements in the field of business. Sheba is the CEO of Multicall Connexions, Director of the International Advertising Association (Australian Chapter) and Vice President of the Australia India Business Council of New South Wales. She is the Chair of the Australia India Business Council Women in Business Chapter and founding Chair of the Multicultural Communications Council. She is not only an extremely successful person in her field of advertising but also a contributor across a broad range of organisations. She has been the recipient of numerous national and international marketing awards. In 2011, she won the Gold Effie Award for multicultural/Indigenous in the field of advertising. Again, an extraordinary, in many ways quiet, achiever who gets on with the job and contributes greatly in her field.

Rekha Rajvanshi was recognised for her contribution in the field of education. Rekha is the first runner up of the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Excellence Awards for her translation of The Dreaming project from English into Hindi. The Dreaming stories are a renowned series of animated films based on Australian Aboriginal storytelling that has been maintained as a body of knowledge for over 40,000 years. Rekha has also provided the script for the 13 most popular Aboriginal animation films, which appeared in subtitles and a voiceover. This is the first time since the awards were instituted nationally in 2007 that a Hindi translator has won at the awards. Again, Rekha is one of those women who works quietly in her field at an incredibly high level and it is great to see her contribution to the broader community recognised in this way.

Aishweryaa Nidhi is the Artistic Director of the Abhinay School of Performing Arts. She was recognised for her contribution in the field of drama. Under her guidance, out of 65 independent theatre company proposals and 860 script entries, three of the plays by Indian writers from the Abhinay School of Performing Arts have successfully made it to the top in the 2012 Short+Sweet Festival recently held at King Street Theatre, Newtown, Sydney. Aishveryaa was nominated for the best actress award in Short+Sweet, Sydney 2009, which is the biggest festival of short plays in the world, for her powerful performance in Mandragora. She is the recipient of Bronze ARP Artist Award at the Short+Sweet Festival. Again, an extraordinary woman who brings with her to Australia a knowledge, experience and culture that is thousands of years old. Three remarkable women. I was absolutely delighted to be there when they were recognised.

House adjourned at 13 : 01