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Celebrating South Asian Australian Women

South Asian women are achieving phenomenal success yet when it comes to visibility, it’s never easy to find role models closer to home here in Australia.

Despite South Asians being one of the largest ethnic demographics in Australia it’s actually rare to see any real representation of South Asian women in mainstream media, in positions of leadership or in the community/non-profit space. In Victoria alone there are 308 000+ South Asian people yet when South Asian women do excellent work, it goes mostly unrecognised.

Australia’s Stellar South Asian Women series exists to change that narrative.

Stellar South Asian Women 2023

Nominations for 2023 are now closed.

Do you know a stellar South Asian woman doing amazing work and uplifting the community around them? Nominate them for Australia’s only awards series dedicated to recognising amazing women and non-binary folk vibrantly contributing to their fields.

This year, for the Stellar South Asian Women’s Awards we are looking to recognise women and non-binary folk who have made a difference in their community. The theme ‘It Takes A Village’ is an ode to the altruistic, collective nature of South Asian communities – we lift each other up as we lift ourselves.

We invite you to nominate someone you know, or yourself, and join us in celebrating the amazing impact that women and non-binary people of South Asian heritage have in Australia.

Closing 20th September 2023 with an in-person awards ceremony 29 November 2023.

Meet Our 2023 Finalists

Content Creation (podcast, YouTube, Instagram)

Community & Advocacy

Business & Entrepreneurship

Sports and Fitness

Arts & Culture (inc film & tv)

Science & Healthcare

Public Sector


Global (for those outside of Australia)


Devni Wimalasena
Devni Wimalasena
Human Rights Activist | Writer & Speaker | Juris Doctor Candidate

A passionate content creator, Devni has built an online community of 12,000+ followers and truly believes in the transformative power of social media to drive change, recently fundraising $35,000+ to provide emergency meals for those affected by the Sri Lankan economic crisis. As a speaker, she’s spoken on platforms like CNN, while her advocacy focuses on combating issues faced by South Asians including colourism, disability rights and enhancing feminist justice.

Nitasha Malik
Nitasha Malik
Founder & Owner, TashMakeupHair

A Cosmetologist with over 16 years’ experience, Nitasha was most recently Make-Up Artist at both Melbourne Fashion Week 2023 and Miss Grand Australia 2023. Passionate about addressing equal opportunities for South Asians behind-the-scenes in Media and Fashion, Nitasha also uses social media to candidly addresses topics of domestic violence, mental health and suicide, drawing from her own lived experiences, and actively engages with her community through initiatives like domestic violence awareness group SNEH.

Anuradha Anuradha Gonadeniya Hewage
Anuradha Gonadeniya Hewage
Digital Content Creator | Volunteer Program Assistant, Future Forte Australia

Digital content creator Anuradha is a dedicated advocate and prominent leader in human rights, youth development and education, who has been recognised for her commitment to peace, community and student empowerment in Australia and beyond. Her influential advocacy and educational content inspires positive change and knowledge enrichment, particularly for schoolchildren in Sri Lanka, where she is originally from.

Ridhima Khanna
Ridhima Khanna
Public figure

Melbourne-based influencer Ridhima is driven to reimagine and elevate the Australian Indian community and culture, through her passion projects Jashn E Khaas – Australia’s first luxury Diwali Ball, which this year took place right in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD and Spirit of Diwali Melbourne – a first-of-its-kind elite expo bringing together South Asian businesses. A mother of two beautiful daughters, Madison and Vera, whom Ridhima says are her biggest inspiration behind anything she does.

Jatinder Kaur
Jatinder Kaur
Director, JK Diversity Consultants | Accredited Mental Health Social Worker

Jatinder specialises in working with migrant and refugee communities and has advocated for these groups in various state and federal government policy reforms and on inquiries. Her career spans 20 years across mental health, child protection, refugee settlement, domestic violence, counselling and teaching Social Work. She has appeared on national media discussing such issues, including SBS documentary See What You Made Me Do.

Nazia Ahmed
Nazia Ahmed
CEO, SOULAB | Founder, Her Kitchen Table

Nazia is an economist, entrepreneur and social innovator. She specialises in evaluating and designing initiatives that improve social outcomes. She is CEO and Founder of social impact consulting firm The Social Outcomes Lab (SOULAB) and also founder of a number of social initiatives, most recently Her Kitchen Table, a meal delivery service empowering migrant and refugee women to help them create their own opportunities. Check out her TED Talk here.

Sabreen Hussain
Sabreen Hussain
Legal Advocacy Officer at Islamophobia Register Australia | Graduate Solicitor

A passionate advocate for Australian Muslims, women of colour and disadvantaged communities, Sabreen has made media appearances to discuss Islamophobia, racism, identity, and the role of religion in modern society. She is also Secretary of the Muslim Legal Network and volunteers at Diverse Women in Law. A recent law graduate, Sabreen will begin her practice, at international law firm Allens, in 2024.

Manorani Guy
Manorani Guy
Founder & President, VicWISE

With over 28 years expertise, Manorani Guy, a Malaysian of Chinese/Indian descent, founded and directs Asian Student Accommodation, while as President of VicWISE, she leads 9 professionals and 85 student volunteers, prioritising international student employability, well-being, and social justice nationally. Manorani champions diverse voices and teamwork in the international sector, serving on committees to drive positive change, stating “the smallest voice can make a difference, and wonderful things can be achieved.”

Tasnia Alam Hannan
Tasnia Alam Hannan
Co-Founder & COO, Arise Foundation | Lecturer, UNSW

With 10 years of public and private sector experience across finance, legal and policy development, Tasnia co-founded Arise Foundation in 2021 to ‘make visible’ the invisible impact of financial abuse and provide finance freedom and sustainable economic security for survivors of domestic and family violence. A lecturer at UNSW (Centre for Social Impact) and board director at the Australia International Academy, she’s also part of advisory groups for Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT (SECNA), and the Centre for Western Sydney.

Yesha Headshot
Yesha Patel
Founder, After

Yesha’s journey began as a fashion enthusiast deeply troubled by the environmental toll of fast fashion. She stopped buying new clothes and pledged to disrupt the way society disposes textile waste. Using her knowledge from studying a Masters of Entrepreneurship, she founded After, Australia’s first textile recycling pick-up service. Her passion “lies in sustainable and circular fashion to ensure we take care of our beautiful environment.”

Vinita Baravkar
Vinita Baravkar
Founder, Bhumi Organic Cotton

With a background and Masters in International Public Health, Vinita saw first-hand the disastrous health and environmental impacts of traditional cotton growing, including farmer suicides, child labour, birth defects and harmful dyes. After years ‘in the field’ meeting with NGOs, grassroots organisations and organic farmers, she decided to combine a deep love for the Earth, humanity and sustainable design to create Bhumi Organic Cotton, offering ethically made luxury home essentials.

Div Pillay
Divanisha (Div) Pillay
CEO & Co-Founder, MindTribes

Div is a diversity and inclusion practitioner, leader, researcher and advocate with 20+ years of experience in gender, race and cultural inclusion. Born, raised and educated in South Africa, she carries her lived experience of racial segregation. Named an Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence, she leads D&I consultancy MindTribes and social enterprise Culturally Diverse Women, is Chair of the D&I Committee at AmCham Australia and a Board Director at VicHealth.

Kiranpreet K Dhillon
Kiranpreet Kaur Dhillon
Client Partner at AKQA

Canadian-born and now Aussie, Kiran is an experienced, award-winning business and strategy leader in the advertising industry. Her Punjabi background drives her passion and relentless efforts in advocating for cultural and gender diversity in advertising and media. Kiran’s management expertise and community involvement also named her in Campaign Asia’s 40 under 40 marketing leaders in APAC.

Paulwyn Devasundaram
Paulwyn Devasundaram
Founder, Medoo

Paulwyn is a Software and Electronics Engineer who has served in senior and general management roles at Canva. Curious and passionate about how modern technology can be best used to accelerate inner growth and transformation in people, Paulwyn set up tech startup Medoo, an intelligent coaching software, co-created with coaches & coachees, and powered by AI, that helps users increase retention, engagement and through-put.

Aish Ravi
Aish Ravi
Founder & Director, Women’s Coaching Association

Aish Ravi is a football coach and educator with a passion for creating inclusive spaces in sport. Her current research focuses on lived experiences of women football coaches, and developing effective anti-racism approaches for women and girls in community sport.

Nechal Gill
Nechal Dhillon
Head of Community Experience, Cricket NSW

Nechal joined Cricket NSW as Head of Community Experience, where she continues her passion of increasing female participation in the sport and enhancing volunteer experience. Prior to this, Nechal led delivery of the crisis program to support thousands of New South Wales households experiencing financial hardship, to pay their energy bills. Nechal also volunteers as Vice-President of Girls Cricket at Castle Hill RSL Cricket Club.

Priya Gakhar
Priya Gakhar
Dholi | Athlete| Survivor | Advocate

As the first female Dholi in Canberra, Priya is making beats and breaking barriers. Co-owner & founder of Canberra Dholis, she has played at events like Mardi Gras and World Pride, and shared the stage with global icons like Panjabi MC. Before this, she played NCAA Division 1 soccer in the USA and is also a blood clot survivor and advocate.

Sonya Suares
Sonya Suares
Performer | Producer | Director | Advocate

Sonya is a multidisciplinary actor, director, producer and arts activist. The Melbourne University and WAAPA graduate has led projects, companies and festivals, creating myriad opportunities for artists over two decades. DEI advocacy is central to Sonya’s practice, she works tirelessly to decolonise our story-telling and champion artists of colour. Find out about her work here.

Rupa Parthasarathy
Founder & Art Therapist, Mindkshetra

A first-generation Australian Indian and parent to two bi-cultural young adults, Rupa founded wellness studio MINDKSHETRA to help young adults build a robust sense of self and support parents in mindful, holistic parenting. Growing up in a culture where conversations about mental health are mostly non-existent, Rupa found an opportunity to spread mental health awareness within multicultural communities, using creative intelligence and cultural engagement.

Yasmin Kassim
Yasmin Kassim
Actor | Writer | Comedian

Yasmin is of Indian/Malay descent and born in Perth, where she was raised half beach bum-half Muslim. The first Australian to be in the CBS Comedy Diversity Showcase, it led to stand-up performances at The Laugh Factory and Comedy Store. Recent acting credits include Sex Lives of College Girls, Joe Exotic, Dive Club and Neighbours, starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe (yes, Harry Potter) in Jungle and working with Kelsey Grammar on Guardians of the Tomb.

Menik G
Menik Gooneratne
Actress & Writer

Sri Lankan Australian actress & writer Menik is best known for roles in Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines, Oscar-nominated Lion, Neighbours, NCIS and Star Trek: Picard. Under the mentorship of Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham), Menik’s debut screenplay Written In The Stars was selected for the prestigious 2021 CAPE x Black List.

Sashi Perera
Sashi Perera

Sashi is a Sri Lankan Australian comedian, writer…and recovering lawyer. Nominated for Best Newcomer Award at the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, she is the only Australian comedian listed as ‘One to Watch’ at the 2021 UK Funny Women Awards. The only thing she hates more than reading her bio is writing her bio…but here’s her website.

Nandita Chakraborty
Neuro Divergent Author & Screenwriter

Nandita, known as the ‘accidental writer’ for her successful novellas Meera Rising and Rosemary’s Retribution, were the product of her rehab therapy. Her latest memoir Dirty Little Secrets was a top 10 Editor’s Choice at Delhi Wire. She has also worked with acclaimed theatre directors Priya Srinivasan and Bruce Gladwin. In 2023, she won the Merri-bek High Commendation Award for Access and Inclusive and a Finalist in the Global Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Ashna Basu
Ashna Basu
Doctor, NSW Health

Ashna is a Sydney-based doctor, speaker, writer and advocate, who serves as Chair of Young MWIA (Medical Women’s International Association). She also sits on the Global Youth Committee for the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership and is President of the Medical Women’s Society of NSW.

Manasi MM
Dr Manasi Murthy Mittinty
Senior Lecturer, Flinders University

Manasi is a physician scientist, Global Clinical Scholar Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School, whose work has started powerful conversations around sex, gender, religion and racial inclusivity in patient care. A recipient of Women’s Agenda Emerging Leader in Health and Endeavour Fellowship, her vision is to empower patients and their families to live a meaningful life despite experiencing pain.

Aarti B 2
Aarti Bajaj
Clinical Director | Clinician | Artistic Director

A Griffith MBA Alumnus, with sixteen years of practice as a clinical sonographer in Medical Imaging, Aarti is a skilled clinical leader and management consultant, with expertise in transformation & governance, healthcare strategy and policy. On top of that, Aarti has a start-up called Wild Dreamer Productions, and writes, directs, and performs on stage to bring equity to marginalized stories. She is a proud wife, mother of two, triathlete, and a lifelong learner.

Sonia Shah
Sonia Shah
Dr Group Leader, University of Queensland

Sonia is a Kenyan-born Indian, who has lived in the UK and now calls Australia home. Always curious about how things worked, she pursued a degree in biological sciences before obtaining a PhD in cardiovascular genetics and leading her own research group at the University of Queensland. She is also mother to two incredible young girls.

2001 Catalogue and Social
Dr Anushi Rajapaksa
Senior Scientist | Founder and CEO, Misti

Anushi is a recognised leader for developing novel bedside technologies for newborn babies. She founded Misti to progress a first-in-class lung delivery system, with a mission to protect the most vulnerable from respiratory infections. She successfully demonstrated a new platform for “inhaled DNA vaccines” during her PhD, being awarded 2010 Young Biomedical Engineer of the Year (Engineers Australia) for the discovery. A mother to young children, who loves to cook and practice mindfulness, she also founded the Think Project charity to facilitate transfer of STEM solutions to low resource settings.

Sagina W
Sagina Walyat
Lawyer | Founder | Policy Advocate

Sagina founded the Beacon of Rights organization, to champion women’s and human rights through pro bono legal aid, bridge the gender literacy gap and spearhead a foreign policy approach through a feminist lens across South Asia. A policy advocate, Sagina focuses on digital literacy, menstrual hygiene, and safe workplaces, earning recognition as an Asia Global Fellow and President at the SAARC Business Council. Recipient of the Government of India Web Wonder Women Award in 2019, Times of India also recognised her as an inspiring woman in 2016.

Shalini M
Shalini Mahtani
Founder & CEO, The Zubin Foundation

Shalini Mahtani is one of Hong Kong’s most authoritative and respected voices on social issues, particularly diversity and inclusion. She is the founder of The Zubin Foundation, a charity that improves the lives of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities by providing them opportunities and reducing suffering. Shalini also serves on HK government board advisory and statutory bodies including Commission on Children.

Polly Harrar
Founder & CEO, The Sharan Project

In 2008, Polly founded The Sharan Project, a registered charity committed to supporting South Asian women in the UK facing disownment or ostracization due to forced marriage, honour-based abuse, dowry conflict, and domestic servitude. Through education, empowerment, and inspiration, Polly aims to guide women toward successful independent lives, free from fear.

Amy Singh
Amy Singh
Poet & Peace Activist

Amy is a Chandigarh-based spoken word poet and facilitator, focused on storytelling, activism, and human connection. Known for performances at the Chandigarh and Bangalore Literature Festivals, her moving poem, Daak: To Lahore with Love, inspired a cross-border peace initiative. Amy also hosts Agla Warqa – The Partition Podcast, promoting peace between India and Pakistan, while an upcoming book offers a unique perspective on a recent Lahore visit. Recognized by TEDx, The Indian Express, The Tribune, Quint and Hindustan Times. Watch her BBC News Punjabi interview here

Angelica Silva
Angelica Silva
Digital Journalist, ABC

Fueled by a passion to enhance on-screen diversity, Angelica Silva credits her inspiration to become a journalist with a desire to improve on screen diversity and share the stories of multicultural Australians. From interviewing Grace Tame for a fashion and beauty magazine to covering international conflicts for Australia’s national broadcaster, Angelica hopes to influence great change across Australia’s media landscape to ensure the inclusion of marginalised groups in all forms of storytelling,

Janika Fernando
Janika Fernando
Law Student and Writer

Third-year Law and Arts student at the University of Sydney, Janika Fernando is a passionate writer inspired by her family’s Sri Lankan heritage. Her work, featured in prestigious university publications, weaves a vivid tapestry of cultural experiences. With over a year of legal experience, she’s progressed from Court Officer to Legal Case Manager at the Federal Court of Australia.

Simran P
Simran Pasricha
Digital Content Producer & Writer, Zee Feed

Malaysian-Punjabi journalist Simran Pasricha moved to Australia at age eleven. Originally planning a career in non-profits, Simran shifted to journalism to address media representation gaps. Specializing in underrepresented news stories and community issues, she navigates the intersection of activism and culture, prioritising accessible, thought-provoking reporting, and sparking critical thinking and actionable conversations within diverse communities. Follow her on TikTok.

Heena Bhojwani
Author | Illustrator | Owner, Desi Pardesi Kids

Heena, a resilient 40+ woman, wife, and mother, embarked on a journey to start a small business with a vision: fostering Hindi language communication for younger generations in their home away from home. She became a self-taught illustrator during the pandemic before becoming a self-published children’s book creator. Heena now manages her small business while juggling a full-time corporate job. In the whirlwind of a hectic life, she wouldn’t have it any other way!

Noor A
Noor Azizah
Co-Founder & Director, Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network

Noor, a Rohingya refugee, endured homelessness and perilous conditions to flee genocide, before resettling in Sydney in 2003. Despite these hardships, she emerged as a fierce advocate for Rohingya women, co-founding the Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network. With a Bachelor of Education and Masters in Peace & Conflict Studies, Noor is a recognized young leader, serving as a UN delegate and contributing to various initiatives. Currently an English teacher, Noor’s commitment to refugee rights showcases resilience, compassion, and a dedication to inclusivity. Read more here.

Aayushi K
Aayushi Khillan
Founder & CEO, Body Buddies

A multi-award-winning youth & health advocate and medical student, Aayushi is also the founder of Body Buddies, a social enterprise dedicated to enhancing health literacy. Beyond her medical studies, she actively contributes to influential boards, including the VCAA Board, Australian Government STEM Youth Advisory Group, CMY Advisory Group, and the AMSA National Executive. Her impactful work seamlessly intertwines her passion for healthcare, education, and advocacy.

Divya P
Divya Pasupuleti
Executive Manager - Business Strategy and Enablement + nbn

Divya stands as an accomplished leader in telecommunications, project management, and not-for-profit sectors, showcasing expertise in delivering business transformations and customer-centric strategies. An active board member and advisor for community-based organizations, she passionately advocates for gender equity, leading initiatives for systemic change. Also a sought-after mentor in STEM, Divya captivates audiences as a conference speaker, embodying a commitment to driving positive impact across industries.

Copy of judges 2023
Special Mention: Pyrawy Sivarajah

Pyrawy passed away in 2023 and we would like to honour her legacy by giving her this award.

She was an advocate for the Tamil people and for mental health. Her advocacy was raw and authentic and she had the ability to provide a voice to the voiceless. She publicly spoke about her struggles with mental health as a result of Borderline Personality Disorder. She was a researcher (Macular degeneration), an orthoptist, a poet, a painter and an entrepreneur with multiple businesses; Silk Walls Events, Silk Walls Entertainment, Tamil Designs and Thigazh.

Regardless of her personal struggles she persevered speaking up about mental health, women’s rights and the rights of Tamil people. On the events and curation front, she was able to provide a platform for young talented Tamil artists within the music industry to perform in Australia.

Her legacy lives on through the thousands of lives she impacted.

Content Creation (podcasting, youtube, instagram)

Community & Advocacy

Business & Entrepreneurship

Sports and Fitness

Arts & Culture (inc film & tv)

Science & Healthcare

Public Sector


Global (for those outside of Australia)


Our 2022 Stellar South Asian Women
We received over 60 nominations in 2022, featuring brilliant women across all industries with a range of experiences. It was incredibly heartwarming to see the incredible work South Asian women are doing in Australia and we’re so honoured to be able to amplify their achievements. Australia’s Stellar South Asian are not only successful but are generous and supportive of those around them. They live their values through their actions and take a stand, even when it’s not popular. They’re successful but more importantly, they care about the community around them. These women are paving the way for the next generation of South Asian community leaders. We’ll be announcing our four awardees during South Asian Heritage Month.
Credit: News Corp Australia

Anjali Sharma

At sixteen, Anjali became a household name across Australia for standing up for what she believes in. As the lead litigant in the 2020 class action against the Federal Government (for failing its duty of care to protect young people from the impacts of climate change), she found herself receiving national media attention.

Since then, Anjali has gone on to appear on television and written for major news organisations such as the ABC, The Guardian and The Saturday Paper, and was awarded the international prize for climate activism, the Children’s Climate Prize, in 2021

We had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Anjali and learn about her motivations, support systems and future plans. ​We’re honoured to have her as one of the four 2022 Australia’s Stellar South Asian Women recipients and are in awe of her tireless commitment to environmental activism and the courage she’s shown in the face of adversity.

Sheetal Deo

Sheetal, like many children of immigrants was driven to achieve financial security & didn’t start law school with the burning desire to create social change. However, during her time completing her undergraduate degree, the seeds were planted relating to identity & intersectionality which laid the foundations for her ongoing commitment to social impact.

This led Sheetal to set up a law firm (Shakti Legal Solutions) designed to improve access to legal services for everyday people with a unique, ‘pay what you can’ model. This is not the only hat that Sheetal wears & she lends her time to social enterprises & volunteering with not-for-profits & boards which align with her mission & values.

Ana Tiwary

Ana has produced over 25 documentaries, from working on Bollywood sets in Mumbai to National Geographic, to now working as a Series Producer for the ABC’s India Now! Not long after moving to Australia, Ana created the Facebook Group, ‘Diversity in Australian Media’ to advocate & support equity, social justice & safe spaces in the Australian film & TV industry.

​Beyond this group, Ana champions diversity & representation through her writing, producing, directing & providing employment opportunities to uplift diverse talent & creatives to highlight marginalised stories in the Australian media landscape.

Yatha Jain
Yatha works in a team at Medtronic that focuses on treating patients with Aortic Stenosis, where patients have a 50% chance of surviving 2 years after the onset of symptoms. ​She has also done phenomenal work in the community as a Youth Ambassador for Multicultural Youth Affairs Network, consulted with the UN about global refugee youth & strategies to prevent youth extremism, Australian Human Rights Commission on anti-racism, government & policy-makers on youth responses to climate change, & roundtables with ABC News on mental health.

​She has also been a volunteer with @stjohnvic for the last 7 years & was appointed to the board of Prosper (Project Australia’s community organisation supporting disadvantaged children & families) & was promoted to vice chair in 2021.

​To learn more about the work that Yatha does in the community & her thoughts on creating social impact, click the button below.

Our 2022 Partners
Meet Our 2022 Finalists
sheetal Profile
Sheetal Deo
Founder of Shakti Legal Solutions

Sheetal Deo (She/Her) is an advocate, opportunist and connector. She is passionate about leveraging platforms and privilege to bridge gaps in awareness, education, and accessibility. Sheetal is the Principal Solicitor and Founder of Shakti Legal Solutions; an innovative low-bono law firm designed specifically to improve access to legal assistance for everyday people and offers a unique, ‘pay what you can’ model for eligible clients. Sheetal also works with the College of Law as an adjunct lecturer, runs a diversity and inclusion collective, and volunteers her time on various not-for-profit organisations and boards including Out for Australia, the LGBTI Legal Service, and the Queensland Law Society Council.

Asha Bhat
CEO of Southern Aboriginal Corporation

Asha Bhat leads the award-winning regional Southern Aboriginal Corporation (SAC), which provides services and programs that address the Noongar peoples’ needs and aspirations in cooperation with other community and business organizations. Asha provides leadership in areas such as structured Indigenous training and employment, family violence prevention legal service, affordable housing, suicide prevention and health promotion and support Noongar people to achieve their potential. Nearly two decades after rebuilding her life and career in Australia as a migrant, Asha has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her service to WA’s Indigenous community in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Aarti Bajaj
Founder of Wild Dreamer Production

Aarti’s ultimate purpose is to bring sustainability, inclusiveness equity, and more empathy to healthcare and arts. She is the CEO/Founder of the Gold Coast-based production company, Wild Dreamer Productions (WDP). In 2017, Aarti went about assembling a cast and crew of 300 local amateur performers to create the stage show MEERA which played in 2018 to a sold-out crowd of 1,100 and later toured in NZ. Aarti not only wrote MEERA, but starred, directed, and managed all facets of the production. In 2020 Aarti produced a stage show “VOID” that speaks about the impact of child abduction on families and the immediate community.

Thenu Herath
CEO of Oaktree

Thenu Herath is the CEO of Oaktree, a non-profit that supports young people in the Asia-Pacific region to lead sustainable development initiatives in their communities. She has previously worked with World Vision, Teach for Australia and was the first female host of the Australian Institute of International Affairs’ Dyason House Podcast. Alongside her role at Oaktree, Thenu is also a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and a co-author of Australia’s first youth national security strategy. She has a degree in politics and international studies and is currently completing her Juris Doctor at the University of Melbourne.

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Anjali Sharma
Climate Justice Advocate

Anjali Sharma (she/her) is 18 years old and was the lead litigant of the Sharma vs Environment Minister, a class action legal case which, in 2021, successfully established that the environment minister owes all young people a duty of care to protect them from the impacts of climate change. She aims to raise awareness about the disproportionate impacts of climate change, particularly towards young people and people of colour, and advocates for a just future where the voices and stories of marginalised communities are amplified in the process of moving to a low carbon economy. Her work has been featured in Saturday Paper, ABC & The Guardian

Mandy Dante
Founder & CEO at Flourish Girl

Mandy (she/her) is the CEO & Founder of Flourish Girl.  Flourish Girl is a not for profit organisation that delivers rites of passage programs for teenage girls & gender diverse teens to build their self-awareness, self confidence and social connectedness within their school community and other trusted relationships. To date, Flourish Girl has worked with over 10000 teenage girls & gender diverse teens across Australia. Mandy is also an ex-speech pathologist, TEDx Speaker, an Australian Accredited Facilitator and was the first-senior female facilitator at The Rites of Passage Institute paving the way for their school programs for teenage girls & gender diverse teens.

Varsha Yajman
Climate Justice & Mental Health Awareness Advocate

Varsha (she/her) is a law student, podcaster, writer and advocate for climate justice and mental health awareness. She has been an organiser for School Strike for Climate and was listed as one of the 100 women resetting The world in 2021 by Women’s Agenda and as one of 30 individuals changing the world by 2030 by Urban List. Varsha is currently a coordinator at SAPNA South Asian Climate Solidarity Network and a paralegal at Equity Generation Lawyers which conducts climate change litigation. Her work along with her podcast, Not to be Controversial, aims to create a community for young South Asians to feel represented and empowered.

Yatha Jain
Multicultural & Gender Advocate

“Yatha यथा (she/her) is an award-winning multicultural advocate and speaker, pursuing a career in the medical device industry. She’s currently a Youth Ambassador for the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW and Vice-Chair of the non for profit, Prosper (Project Australia). Yatha has spoken at the International Youth Media Conference, the National Youth Futures Summit and has commented for media publications including the Sydney Morning Herald and Triple J. She also worked with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism in a Global Program to prevent violent extremism among young people. “Photographs taken for a wider portrait collection Heart of Heritage by @until.sunrise”

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Ruchika Rawat
Healthcare Redesigner

“Ruchika Rawat is a fierce DEIB advocate, Healthcare Redesigner, community leader, migrant women’s advocate, researcher, physiotherapist, digital health mentor, and the first woman of South Asian heritage to work closely with the Aussie owned AusMumpreneur group after being the national finalist for Sustainability Award in 2017 which resulted in start of a new category – the multicultural category! Ruchika is a local community champion and has landed coverage in various media outlets including the Herald Sun, AFR, The Muse AUS & NZ, and the Indian Sun. She works in the public sector and brings diverse perspectives of the multicultural communities to various steering committees and is Co-Author of ‘More than a Mum’.



Amity Mara
Community Organiser

Amity Mara (she/her) is an autistic transgender Tamil woman from Sri Lanka, living in Naarm on unceded Wurundjeri country. She is a lawyer and social justice campaigner, currently working as the Director of Campaigns & Strategy at the Foundation for Young Australians. Over her 8+ years she has won campaigns to increase access to the Disability Support Pension, challenge the harmful Robodebt system, stop the Religious Discrimination bill from harming LGBTQI+ communities amongst others. In her spare time Amity is one of the convenors of the Borderless Affirmation mutual aid group for transgender migrants, that provides housing, clothing, food and legal support, as well as direct financial aid, for its members.



Shazleen Lateef
Founder at Maba Idi

Shazleen Lateef (she/her) is the founder of Maba Idi, a social enterprise and ethical beauty brand that captures the essence of Australia. She founded Maba Idi with a fundamental social purpose to promote beauty as a right and a tool to empower women and girls of Australia. Before starting Maba Idi, Shazleen was an education advisor at the UN in Lebanon, taught and managed academic programs at the UNSW and La Trobe University. She worked in China, Poland, Taiwan and Sweden. She holds a Master of Anthropology from ANU and Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Sociology from UNSW.

Vithyaa Thavapalan
General Manager and Senior Forensic Fire Investigator at Fire Forensics, Co-Founder and Entrepreneur

Vithyaa (She/her) is a second generation Australian-Tamil. She is the first South Asian Female Forensic Fire Investigator and one of only the few females in Australia in the industry. She is also the founder of Murs De Fleurs Events and Sydney Flower Walls which aim to change the event industry by making events affordable to all. In 2018 she co-founded Brown Boss Babes (BBB) Australia which was created to connect and inspire all women, focusing on South Asian and brown women. BBB host events whilst raising money for charities and organisations that assist women all across Australia.

Portrait Photography Sydney
Rose Marie Lewis
Anti-racism Advocate

Rose Lewis (she/her) is an Anglo-Indian immigrant thriving on Darug Land in Western Sydney. She earned her Business and Law degrees from Western Sydney University, serving as a Board of Trustees member in 2020-21. Rose consistently volunteers, produces digital content and provides strategic advice on education, healthcare improvement and intersectional feminism. She’s collaborated on research covering child e-safety, financial literacy, and the impact of climate change on youth health. Rose is also an artist, performer and mentor who tackles anti-racism and enables holistic wellbeing, particularly for people from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Shilpa Bhim Headshot
Shilpa Bhim
Founder of Glowreel

Shilpa (she/her) is the founder of Glowreel: a media startup dedicated to amplifying the voices of Black women, Indigenous women and women of colour (BIPOC women). Shilpa’s aim is to ensure BIPOC women feel represented, empowered and inspired to blaze their own trail! Shilpa graduated from University with First Class Honours in Politics. She has a background in public policy and experience as a lifestyle and beauty journalist. Shilpa’s from Wellington, New Zealand and now calls Melbourne, Australia home. When she’s not researching stories for Glowreel you’ll find her chilling with a strong cappuccino or a rosé in hand!

Sumen Rai
Director, Defence Innovation Partnership

“Sumen Rai (she/her) is Director of the Defence Innovation Partnership, a collaboration between the South Australian Government, Defence Science and Technology Group and South Australian universities. She leads national and international R&D engagement and collaboration between researchers, industry and government, to deliver innovative solutions to the defence and space sectors. Sumen has extensive government experience across investment attraction, trade, and industry development. Sumen was previously a teacher and lecturer in Arts and Design & Technology, a science communicator, and filmmaker.

Janaki Gerard

Raised in a conservative Sri Lankan Tamil family, Janaki Gerard (she/her) was faced with the challenge of going against the grain to pursue a career in the performing arts. Her dedication to refine her craft has taken her to New York City and London; Gaining her Masters in Acting at East 15 Acting school. Since returning to Brisbane, Janaki has worked both on stage and screen, including roles with Queensland Theatre, Laboite, Upside down Media and Dead Puppet Society. Her goal is to champion creativity as a device for our wellbeing and enrich future generations in the entertainment industry through wider representation and diverse storytelling.

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Ananya Sinha
Venture Capital Investor & Founder of Brown Baddies NFT

Ananya (she/her) is currently a Venture Capital Investor, specifically supporting Artesian’s Female Leaders Fund, investing in high-growth, female-led startups overlooked by other VCs and underrepresented in the startup landscape. Ananya is also a founder of Brown Baddies NFT, an NFT collection that aims to represent South Asian women in the web3 space. Previously, Ananya founded a sustainable tech startup, and spent two years as a Management Consultant where she specialised in the intersection of strategy and customer experience. She is also the Vice Chair for Women of Colour Australia’s Research & Advocacy Committee.

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Ana Tiwary
Producer & Director

Ana Tiwary (she/her) runs the production company indiVisual films that specialises in multicultural stories. Ana was born in India, holds a Masters in Film from the US, and has lived/worked in many different parts of the world. From Bollywood films to National Geographic Channel, Ana has experience working across factual as well as features and has produced over 25 documentaries for ABC TV and other networks. Last year she produced the first Asian Australian rom-com ‘Rhapsody of Love’ and recently produed ‘India Now’.  Thirteen years ago Ana created the Diversity in Australian Media community and is an advocate for equity, social justice and safe spaces.

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Tash Menon
Founder & Managing Director of MASH

Named Best of the Best Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 by B&T, called ‘Mighty Mouse’ in the advertising and marketing worlds by Forbes, nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year finalist by CEO Magazine, and named a ‘Woman to Watch in 2021’ by Campaign Asia, Tash is resetting the way brands and freelancers think about and solve creative problems.
Her business, MASH, curates and connects clients with referral-only freelancers in the communications and creative profession. Founded in 2018, MASH is now active in six continents, 14 countries and collaborates with more than 100 highly vetted and experienced freelancers (known as MASHers).

Our 2021 Stellar South Asian Women

Hon. Lisa Singh

Hon. Lisa Singh is the first woman of South Asian Heritage to be elected to the Australian Federal Parliament as the Australian Senator representing Tasmania. Lisa’s great grandfather was an indentured labourer in Fiji, which inspired her to champion the cause of fighting modern slavery. Currently she serves as Walk Free’s Head of Government Advocacy.

Her incredible journey inspires many young Australian Indian, Fijian and more broadly South Asian women and girls interested in politics, law reform, human rights, social justice and advocacy.

Sam Wilson 

Sam founded @sobermates when she discovered that being a typical Aussie party girl who loved to indulge in social drinking came at the cost of debilitating mental health. Fearing judgment, it took her a lot of courage to open up about her experiences with ‘hangxiety’(The anxiety that followed with a hangover). Now, she successfully fosters a community of Aussies who want to explore their drinking patterns and opt to experience social situations sober.

Sam’s story has encouraged many young South Asian women to address the negative effects of a growing drinking culture, otherwise considered taboo in South Asian household

Sushi Das 

Born in a conservative Indian family, Sushi grew up as a rebellious daughter in 1970s London. Describing her youth as a ‘hideous clash of Eastern expectations and her personal Western desires, she credits her upbringing for fuelling her passion for journalism and justice.’ Truly a trailblazer in her own right, Sushi defied orthodox opinions to become a journalist, inspired by causes related to gender, culture and justice.

Currently a senior journalist at RMIT’s ABC Fact Check and a published author (Deranged Marriage), her career of over 27 years is an inspiration to many young, budding writers.

Funny, candid and honest – her message for younger South Asian women is loud and clear: listen to your inner voice and acknowledge your power.

Leah Vandenberg

Leah is ABC Play School’s first South Asian presenter. The show reaches an audience of 900,000 weekly. Young viewers regularly call Leah ‘Aunty’ or ‘Maasi’ because to them she feels and looks like family. Born in NZ, Leah spent her early years in Fiji, before moving to Brisbane. She described this period of her life as ‘harrowing’, but these experiences now, ‘inform everything about my life and the work I do with children. You may have also seen her in the award winning Netflix Series, The Let Down or SBS Australia’s The Hunting.

Her passion project created during the 2020 lockdown, Treehouse Cubby is focused on children from refugee and migrant backgrounds, living in public housing or community detention.

Leah candidly shared with us about her unconventional childhood and how it shaped her career in the Australian television and film industry over the last 20+ years.

Pallavi Sharda

Despite growing up in Melbourne, Pallavi had big dreams from a young age if becoming a Bollywood actress. She realised that these dreams couldn’t be accomplished in Australia. ‘I knew that in Australia, pursuing my dreams would mean just performing at ‘ethnic’ and ‘multicultural’ festivals.’ As a start academic student, she went on to pursue a double degree in Law and Arts at the University of Melbourne at age sixteen.

Her ambition and journey is nothing short of inspiring for younger south asian girls who aspire to make it big in creative arts. Without losing her unique voice, she has stood her ground in Bollywood despite being labeled as the ‘difficult, brown foreign woman’ and has urged other women aspiring to make it big in the entertainment industry to do the same.

She spoke to us about seeking a spiritual journey through her passion for arts, being a mentor she wishes she had to other creatives and getting involved in changing the status quo through her activism.