The awards have run annually since 2013, and raise awareness of Indians in Australia and Australians in India, in a way that encourages further growth in relations between the two countries.
Nearly 300 entries across the 12 categories of the awards were received this year. Finalists were celebrated at a reception attended by His Excellency Dr A M Gondane, High Commissioner of India to Australia, at the Powerhouse Museum on 16 August.
Winners of the India Australia Business and Community Awards will be announced on 11 October at a gala event in Brisbane, Queensland.
Our three finalists are:
Professor Harbans Bariana, from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences in the Faculty of Science, and the Sydney Institute of Agriculture, researches cereal rust genetics.
Professor Bariana is helping farmers in India and Australia to fight back against the devastating effects of wheat rust diseases.
In Australia alone, losses from wheat rust diseases amount to more than $1.5 billion per year. In India, where wheat is an essential part of the daily diet and the major source of calories for hundreds of millions of people, the threat from rust diseases is even more alarming.
Professor Bariana’s work involves finding genetic solutions to control wheat rust diseases. His research has enabled breeders to release rust resistant wheat cultivars for farmers. He has led the discovery of more than 15 new rust resistance loci in the last decade – almost half the stripe rust resistance genes discovered worldwide in this period.
These resistance genes, once deployed in new cultivars, safeguard wheat crops against rust diseases to maintain food production goals.
“Working together with my Indian and Australian collaborators on a common food security issue was very rewarding and I am humbled by this recognition,” said Professor Bariana.
Kanchan Marcus is a PhD student in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, researching ‘Oral health knowledge and behaviours in a culturally and linguistically diverse population in Australia using a health literacy framework’, with research supervisors Professor Woosung Sohn, Professor Stephanie Short and Dr Madhan Balasubramanian. She also previously completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours Class I) at the University of Sydney.
Over nine years, Ms Marcus has managed professional work at the University of Sydney and motherhood to three children, along with volunteering in the community. Kanchan has worked on several Australian Research Council projects concerning the migrant health workforce, developing expertise in qualitative research methods, data analysis and project management. Currently Ms Marcus is co-authoring a paper: ‘Towards more effective governance of migration pathways for international health professionals in Australia’, which focuses on the experiences of migrant doctors in rural areas.
She is also employed with the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre, which is a multidisciplinary network of researchers concerning local, regional and global migration challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Being a finalist in the Young Professional of the Year category of the India Australia Business and Community Award 2019 provides an opportunity to network with Indian-Australian community leaders and strengthen links between these communities,” said Ms Marcus.
“This recognition encapsulates my cultural identity as a proud Australian-Indian (who enjoys Bollywood dancing!) and further encourages me to continue with high impact research and volunteer work that ultimately helps others, particularly universal health care access for culturally and linguistically diverse migrants.
“This finalist award is also recognition that motherhood is not a barrier for women in achieving their goals, pursuing dreams or striving for excellence.”
Yatha Jain is a fifth year student in the Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Biomedical Engineering) and Bachelor of Project Management.
Ms Jain has demonstrated leadership and initiative in a wide array of experiences, particularly within the non-profit and health sectors. She has undertaken various volunteering projects to assist clients in the not-for-profit sector, including projects in South Africa and Nepal and is also an advocate for gender equality, especially for young, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) females, demonstrated through her work with NSW Council of Social Services and as the Vice President of the Sydney University Women in Engineering Society.
She has also won the Vice Chancellor’s Global Mobility Scholarship from the University of Sydney in 2018; the Global Women’s Summit Scholarship from the Federal Office for Women in 2018; and was highly Commended in the Engineers Without Borders First Year Challenge in 2015.
“This honour celebrates my achievements in the community sector, as an Australian with an Indian heritage,” said Ms Jain.
“I'm really proud to be chosen as a finalist, because I've been committed to a lot of initiatives across the health, gender and multiculturalism spaces. The idealistic side of me hopes that one day awards like this don't need to exist, because it will be so normal to contribute towards social causes and improve society.
“I am creating a future which I am proud to live in. I'm passionate about these social causes because discrimination including sexism and racism aren't inconvenient, but actually destroy lives.”