Dr Berera OAM - Indian-Australians honoured

The Indian diaspora is making a huge contribution, with some saying the community is pulling above its weight in all areas of their lives in their adopted land. The government of Australia has felicitated 14 of them who have made the list announced on the occasion of King’s Birthday 2023. The decorated Indian-Australians honoured with AM include two specialists from the area of medicine while the third is an advertising executive.

They are:

Associate Professor Ravi Subramanya BHAT from Shepparton Victoria, who has been honoured for significant service to medicine, and to rural psychiatry.

Associate Professor Bhat, among his many other achievements, has been Divisional Clinical Director at Goulburn Valley Area Mental Health Service, Goulburn Valley Health, Shepparton since 2012 and a member of Vicxtorian Mental Health Expert Taskforce for 2015-2016. His Awards and Recognition also include Meritorious Award, Victorian Branch, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2021.

Associate Professor Bhat has also authored 40 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

Professor Harshal NANDURKAR, from Ashburton Victoria has been awarded AM for significant service to medicine, particularly as a haematologist. Professor NANDURKAR has been Program Director, Cancer Program, since 2018 and Director, Clinical Haematology, since 2015 at Alfred Health.

He has also been Professor of Haematology, and Director, Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, since 2015 at Monash University and is also Head of ‘Nandurkar Group’ – Vascular Biology.

Previously he has been, Director of Haematology (2007-2015) at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne and Consultant Haematologist at Melbourne Blood Specialists between 2011-2015.

Professor Nandurkar also holds Patents in relation to Method of modulating fertility in animals.

The 3rd AM recipient Mrs Sunita Gloster of NSW has been honured for her services to the media and marketing industry and to gender equality.

Mrs GLOSTER is the founder of Gloster Advisory, since 2020 and Non-Executive-Director, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, since 2022. She is also Co-Chair of Media and Marketing, Tech Council of Australia, since 2022 and Non- Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network Australia, since 2023.

She was decorated with Industry Champion of Change award, B&T Magazine, 2022 and Edna Ryan Award for making a feminist difference in Media Communications, 2021.

Also read: 5 of us among those honoured in the Australia Day 2022 Honours List

10 Indian-Australians received OAM

10 Indian-Australians have been honoured for their valuable contribution in a variety of other professions and community services. Only two Victorians – Dr Virendra Berera and Joseph De Souza have been decorated with OAM this year.

Among the rest of awardees are – three Indian-Australians from the New South Wales and five from the ACT.

Dr Virendra Berera, a well-known community leader in Victoria has been honoured for his selfless service and contribution to the local Indian community. Dr Virendra BERERA, is a doctor / General Practitioner running his medical practice Victorian Road Medical Clinic, in Northcote (Victoria) since 1976. He is a 2008 recipient of the Hind Rattan Award by the Non-Resident Indian Welfare Society and Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence, awarded by the Victorian Government in 2007.

Dr Berera has been serving the community since 1995 when he first accepted a role at the Punjab Club of Victoria as Executive Committee member and then served as its president from 1998 to 2000.

From 2002 to 2004 he served as the president of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, an umbrella organi9ozation, a peak body representing the vast diversity of the Indian diaspora.

To help the needy in our community, an Indian Charitable and Benevolent Trust (ICBT) was set up. It was particularly useful because many Indians – on temporary visas, from time to time fell into troubles and found themselves at the wrong end of the stick when it came to the local government’s help. Dr Berera was one of the Trustees for this noble cause initiative for 8 years between 2007 and 2015.

As a practicing medico and a community worker taking care of those in need as Trustee of the ICBT, still left him some more appetite for community service and in 2006 he accepted the responsibility of logistics as Logistics Co-Ordinator, Diwali Festival, Celebrate India.

Dr Berera and his wife Mrs Neelam Berera have a blessed life. Their two children – daughter Nidhi a dentist and son Vineet a medical doctor are happily settled interstate.

Speaking to Bharat Times, Dr Virendra Berera OAM said, “I thank the Australian government for the honour and thank my community for giving me the opportunity to give back and serve them. A small contribution can go a long way and I urge all Indian-Australians to consider making a small contribution – to make this country of ours a better place”.

“As a former president of the FIAV, I also thank in particular the member associations of the FIAV who made an immense contribution working with me tirelessly from 2002 to 2004 when we were able to provide a united platform for the length and breadth of the Indian diversity in our diaspora who call Victoria, Australia their home.

“I would also express my deep gratitude to Dr T. J. Rao and Mr Arun Sharma, my two co-founding members of the Celebrate India Inc. and the unyielding team of passionate volunteers led and guided by Mrs Jaya Sharma and Mr Arun Sharma, for putting the Diwali festival on Victoria’s annual calendar through their world class festivities at Fed Square every year.

“And finally, a word about Bharat Times and the Indian media in Victoria – without their support many of our achievements would not have been possible and recognized. I would like to thank the team of Bharat Times – who stand the tallest in my estimation for their extremely professional support to our local community for more than 25 years”, Dr Berera added.

The other Victorian honoured with OAM is Melbourne’s Justice of Peace (JP) since 1977, Joseph De Souza who has been recognized for service to the community through a range of roles.

Mr De Souza is the Coordinator, of Springvale Document Signing Centre, since 2007. He is also Life member of the Victorian Association of Youth Clubs since 1969. He is the former president (1974-1976) of the Springvale Youth Club, Springvale Leisure and Activities Centre.

The other Indian-Australians honoured, who received OAMs are:

From the Australian Capital Territory, the Indian-Australians honoured are:

Dr Sunita Siddhu Dhindsa for service to the Indian community of the Australian Capital Territory;

Arun Venkatesha for service to the Indian community of the Australian Capital Territory;

Nishi Puri of Canberra for service to the Indian community of the Australian Capital Territory

 Jayshri Patricia Falcetta of Canberra for social welfare activities;

Muhammed SadarudDean Sahu Khan of Canberra for service to the community and to interfaith relations;

From New South Wales, Indian-Australians honoured are:

Vinod Daniel of Sydney for service to conservation and the environment;

Dr Saba Nabi of Wagga Wagga for community health, education and multicultural affairs;

Kalpana Sriram of Sydney or community mental health;

Another Indian-Australian honoured is Preetpal Singh who has been awarded the Australian Corrections Medal.

“Congratulations to the outstanding Australians recognised in today’s Honours List. Recipients have made substantial contributions and had a significant impact at the local, national or international level. Some are volunteers, others have had a remarkable impact in professional roles – many have done both. They are all inspiring and their service is valued by us all,” the Governor-General David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) said.

“Learning about the wide-ranging service of recipients, which spans almost every field of endeavour imaginable, is uplifting and makes me enormously optimistic for our country. Collectively they speak to who we are now and who we can be in the future.

“While we can take a moment to acknowledge the significance of achieving gender parity in our Honours, it should not be a cause for pause. We reflect on our progress, and then recommit our efforts to ensure nominations reflect our diverse and strong community.

“Each recipient has something in common: someone nominated them. The Order of Australia belongs to each of us because nominations come from the community. In honouring today’s recipients, I also encourage all Australians to consider nominating someone they admire who has had a significant impact in the community.” 

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