Making the whole Australian Indian community proud, a well-known leader based in Melbourne, Vasan Srinivasan, has been elected as the chair of MHFA (Mental Health Foundation of Australia). Well respected not only by the ethnic community groups but also the main stream community and a regular at local radio stations and print media, Vasan is known for his perseverance and persistence in chasing whatever the community requires.
“If Vasan is there chasing it, he is not going to give up until he gets it”, is the usual tagline by politicians at community functions where Vasan is chasing funding for one community group or the other. He has just managed to get $2.5 million from the federal government for the Indian community centre and is in the process of making an application to the state government for another $2.5 million they need to complete the state of the art project, to meet the Indian community needs.
Vasan’s journey began in the mid 1980s when, after working in India and Singapore he landed in Australian in 1987. By many, he is seen as a ‘doer’ and “once he espouses a cause, he leads from the front”, says a close friend and associate.
Vasan’s association with Mental Health started soon after he landed in Melbourne. In 1993 when he became one of the founding members and an administrator of the East West Foundation, an organisation affiliated with Mental Health Foundation Australia.
“Mental health has been an important issue for me for a long period of time. I believe this important health issue is best tackled at a local level. As far as back in the 1990s, I participated in organizing seminars and lectures in Melbourne for an awareness campaign on depression and other mental health issues and ways in dealing with them. I also organized awareness campaigns in Rural Victoria including Shepparton and Warrnambool”, Vasan Srinivasan told Bharat Times.
An active member since 1993, Vasan has made huge contribution through the Fund Raising Committee that organises the annual Golden Opportunity Ball.
Having served as the Vice-Chair of Mental Health Board earlier, on 5th December at the AGM, the board elevated Vasan to the top job as its chair for 2019-20. The board members elected to serve are as follows:
- Mr. Vasan Srinivasan (Chairperson)
- Mr. Jim Goodin (Vice-Chairperson)
- Mr. Huss Mustafa OAM (Secretary)
- Mr. Jimmy Ma (Treasurer)
- Professor Peter Barlis (Director)
- Ms. Helena Kyriazopoulos (Director)
- Ms. Anne Donaldson (Director)
- Assoc Prof. Theresa Clair Jacques (Director)
- Mr. Daryl Williams QC (Director)
- Prof David Castle (Director)
- Ms. Kirilly Du
This eminent and influential new Board shall be the key to promoting mental health and well-being across their respective regions and states. They will bring an enviable cache of leadership and expertise, with strong links, to the table. They will enable the Foundation to continue to meet our mission, objectives and build on our work to support the Australian community.
While the Foundation looks forward to working with the new Board to promote and create more awareness regarding the Foundation activities, Vasan’s job is made doubly responsible as he has to lead a team to spread awareness within his own South Asian communities where the illness is still as stigma by many and anyone suffering mental health issues is seen as ‘weird’ or mad.
An undaunted Vasan is up for the challenge. He told Bharat Times, “We will be working hard, day and night doing everything possible to spread awareness and bring in professional help where needed. Our community needs to understand mental health is not just the feeling of sadness, it is much more complex than that and for those who have issues, there is help out there for them”.
Thanking the community for its on-going support a humble Vasan said, “Without community’s support, I would not be able to do much; I would like to take this opportunity to thank our community for anything I have achieved”.
Anyone having mental health issues in particular and the community in general has a lot to gain, especially from the awareness and care point of view when one of their own is so closely involved.