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 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
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 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.
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.