Newsletter #8 - November 2021
Dear SAARI Collective,
Thank so much for your support of the SAARI Collective, and welcome to our newsletter.
As Australia reopens and we re-emerge from lockdowns to a much more vaccinated COVID-normal, SAARI will be turning one!
Turning one is a special time - a first birthday cake, lots of toys, and a very good excuse for a party, with a sense of magic and a lifetime of opportunity ahead.
For parents, turning one is an acknowledgement that you made it, that you got through one of the most rewarding yet challenging periods of sleep deprivation and nappy changing you'll ever experience.
Turning one is a big milestone for us, but equally it's an important time for all of us as a community.
In our South Asian cultures, the next few weeks are punctuated with major celebrations: Diwali, Bandi Chhor, Naraka Chaturdasi, Govardhan Puja, and Bhai Dooj. These days recognise long-fought victories, celebrate family and connection, and remind us of the victory of light over darkness.
For us, what's different about being South Asian is that our festivals have both an external side - with rituals and sweets - as well a more internal, reflective side. As mythologist Devdutt Puttanaik puts it, "Unlike Greek narratives, where achievement is celebrated, and biblical narratives, where submission and discipline are celebrated, in ancient Indian thought understanding is celebrated.”
SAARI is all about this. We exist to help all of us better understand what it means to be South Asian in Australia, in all its diversity. We're on a journey to help unlock voices, creativity and impact - to further that understanding within our own communities and in mainstream Australia.
Our own understanding has grown so much over the last year, through tens of thousands of readers and our work with over 30 emerging writers. We've learned that pandemics exacerbate inequality, that our communities need to have stronger conversations about mental health and family violence, that we need intergenerational perspectives, that technology can connect but also disconnect us, and, from our collaboration with the Malthouse Theatre, that we need more diversity, funding, allies and South Asian voices in the arts in Australia.
We've been inspired by the Collective to learn there is room for creativity, innovation and compassion in even the darkest of times, and that there are so many creators with unique stories to tell, including many who just need a nudge and some culturally-safe support.
We realise this last year has been one of the most difficult we've collectively experienced, so as we come together to celebrate our re-emergence, our festivals, and SAARI's first birthday, we think it's important that you take a moment to remember the hard-earned understanding you've gained through 2021, and to celebrate those insights as well.
Thank you so much for helping us get to one. It really takes a village to successfully raise the new kid on the block.
Read on to hear more about what’s happening in the SAARI Collective community, including our upcoming First Birthday Party, our latest stories and briefs, and some great ideas and career opportunities!
Welcome New Editorial Team Leader Harshdeep Kaur! After an extensive search, SAARI is very proud to welcome Harshdeep Kaur as our new Editorial Team Leader. Harshdeep joins us from Naarm (Melbourne), with a background in consulting, work in operations for startup illuminate Education Australia, and a passion for literacy and creativity. She can't wait to meet the Collective! You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leadership Team in the media. Check out our leadership team members' podcast appearances! Founder Sandeep Varma’s visited Planet Broadcasting show Tonts to talk about creativity, parenting, his career leaps, SAARI Collective and more. Head of Community Marisha Nair visited the Collective West podcast earlier this week to talk about global action, the need to confront adversity and how to navigate unexpected career journeys. Associate Editor Jasmeet Sahi voiced stories of her hometown on ABC Radio National, sharing tales of her childhood navigating the beautiful streets and bookshops of Chandigarh, India.
Hundreds tune in to hear SAARI & Malthouse talk about diversity in Australian theatre. SAARI Collective partnered with Malthouse Theatre for 'How do I tell my story?' on 20 October to insert South Asian voices into an important conversation about diversity and storytelling. It's our first collaboration with a major arts institution in Australia. Hosted by actor, director and dramaturg Sonya Suares, the event saw over 250 registrations and a phenomenal panel of Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, Priya Srinivasan, Ra Chapman and many more. Thanks to everyone who attended, and if you missed it please check out Priya's interview on the Malthouse blog for her insights.
Meanjin (Brisbane) crew meets in person. SAARI Collective members from across Meanjin (Brisbane) met in-person to connect, share stories and food, and explore what we have in common across our different South Asian cultural identities. Co-organiser Ishara Sahama said, "With the feedback I received after the event and even during, I now have no doubt that SAARI events are not only critical for bringing our South Asian communities together, but that they are enriching, and beneficial for our emotional & social wellbeing." Details of the next Meanjin meetup are in the events section below.
Book Launch: Supriya's Singh's The Violence of Money. Professor Supriya's Singh's latest book Domestic Economic Abuse: The Violence of Money is an important series of stories about Anglo-Celtic and Indian women in Australia who survived economic abuse. SAARI helped launch this book, and hosted an important discussion about the pervasiveness of economic abuse and family violence. This book is an important read - buy it on Kindle today.
Get involved with SAARI's Foreign Affairs show. SAARI is starting a foreign affairs show! If you're interested in being part of it or think it's a good idea, drop an email to Sandeep at Sandeep@saaricollective.com.au. We're actively looking for topics, guests and more sponsors!
New SAARI Collective members
Historical fiction and young adult fantasy author, and multifaceted writer, Aparna Ananthuni joins us from Naarm (Melbourne).
Young Canberra Citizen of the Year, TedX speaker, policy advisor and youth advocate Jahin Tanvir joins the Collective from Ngunnawal country (Canberra).
Impact fellow, entrepreneurship student, partner at Enterprise India Fellowship and Founder of Girl-Up Sydney Pooja Agrawal joins us from her home in Mumbai, with plans to explore new startups and dating apps.
Policy officer, consumer advisor, and multiculturalism advocate Arshdeep Cheema joins SAARI in Naarm with a grab-bag full of interesting ideas.
Sydney-based Sanjanaa Chithambaranatha joins the Collective with skills as a photojournalist, events manager and communications all-rounder.
Multicultural mental health ambassador, social worker, podcaster and all-around all-star Veronica Charles joins SAARI in Naarm.
Media, youth, resilience and diversity researcher and academic from Western Sydney University Dr Sukhmani Khorana joins SAARI with serious credentials and a deep interest in the future of South Asian Australians.
Electrical engineer, change maker, storyteller, and diversity and inclusion advocate Sneha Sobti joins SAARI from Eora Country (Sydney).
Arts, culture, and diversity thought-leader Aakanksha Sidhu, fresh off her stint working at the Malthouse Theatre, joins us from her home in Ngunnawal country (Canberra).
Policy, international development and decolonisation whiz Shivani Kanodia joins us in Meanjin (Brisbane) with a keen eye on global development work, having recently joined the Development and Policy sub-committee at Oaktree.
Humanitarian, anti-slavery researcher, and international development worker with experience in Nepal, Rhianne Jeyakumar joins SAARI from Eora Country (Sydney) with a breadth of experience and perspective.
SAARI is always looking for new voices - so please pass on our newsletter to your friends, family and colleagues who want to scratch their creative itch and join our dynamic community.
Click here to join the SAARI Collective.
A Future World of Human-Machines
SAARI Collective’s Dr Ayesha Jehangir sits down with transhumanist Dr Avinash Singh, cybernetics researcher at the University of Technology Sydney and founder of the India Future Society to understand transhumanism and how far away we really are from what we call science-fiction.
Celebrate a sustainable Diwali this year
SAARI Collective’s Sheetal Singh, Nishant Kulkarni reflect on the beauty of Diwali and highlight the importance of celebrating this occasion in a climate conscious way - keeping the Earth and our community in mind.
I think I'm a super smeller and here's how the world smells to me
Oral surgeon and writer Krati Garg is pretty sure she's a super smeller. Read her piece to uncover the world of hyperosmia (super smelling), including how COVID can impact your sense of smell, and the latest science behind one of our least understood senses.
How Aussie Hip Hop Lost Its Twang: An interview with rapper Matthew Craig
Today, in the hip-hop industry, intersectionality is the new cool, and the major labels want to align themselves with artists from diverse backgrounds. But at the top of the pyramid, it's still a white-dominated industry, so rapper Matthew Craig has taken matters into his own hands.
New school of food: SBS takes a pioneering step with Unplated India
Opening our eyes to India’s boundless cuisines, enters into the ring, first of it’s kind, SBS Food's new food series, India Unplated - a 10-part series that takes viewers on a food journey across India and serves up a myriad of untold stories every Thursday night.
Read up on our chat with host Sandeep Pandit, where we talk all things Indian food and representation.
Cooking with Culture - In conversation with Masterchef Australia's Depinder Chhibber
Depinder Chhibber is not far from becoming a household name for television-loving South Asian Australians. Her food journey took her from her mother’s kitchen to the Masterchef Australia 2021 benches - and that is only just the beginning.
Australia's first Muslim Writers Festival hopes to remove divide between self-published and traditional authors
Australia's first Muslim Writers Festival took place on 25 September.
SAARI Writer Ayesha Jehangir spoke with Festival co-founder Ozge Sevindik Alkan about the reason why this festival is so important right n1ow.
SAARI's 1st Birthday Party
Wednesday 17 Nov 8 - 9 pm.
SAARI turns one! We're honoured to invite you to join Collective members from across the country to celebrate SAARI's first birthday online! Meet other awesome South Asians, learn about our new Community Platform and future plans, hear from new writers, win a prize every 10 minutes, and get all the party feels.
Meanjin (Brisbane) Meetup
Sunday 21 Nov 11 am - 3 pm.
Are you in Meanjin (Brisbane) and want to meet up in person with your SAARI community? SAARI events focus on building real connections, with fun and serious ideas in equal measure. Register for free for the SAARI Brisbane meetup (tickets limited), and get some free nibbles at a great South Asian restaurant.
Asian Australian Alliance & Sydney Community Forum with Oz International Student Hub (OISH) is hosting a community gathering to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. This is an opportunity to learn how people celebrate Diwali across the globe, or how to make an Indian delicacy, play some games and win prizes. The Consulate General of India, Raj Kumar will also address the online gathering.
Click here and register for free!
Literacy and Livelihoods in Afghanistan - Fundraising Concert
MAV (Multicultural Arts Victoria) is working with the Afghan Australian Development Organisation (AADO) to support the education of women and girls in remote areas in Afghanistan. Artists have generously come together in support with an online fundraising concert on Thursday 4th November at 6pm on Facebook and YouTube.
Writers Workshop by AMUST (Australian Muslim Times)
AMUST’s Writer's Workshop: The Power of Diverse Voices will be held online & in person on Sunday 14th November from 9:30 - 12:30pm. The workshop seeks to educate and inspire existing and emerging writers from multicultural communities and will feature a panel of speakers.
South Asian Today Art Shop
In a bid to diversify Australia's art scene and aiming to uplift, amplify and highlight South Asian artists, South Asian Today has collaborated with five brown women and non-binary artists and has produced a catalogue of five prints, with a tote bag along with other accessories. Check out their online shop!
Dhadjowa Foundation - Read, learn and support
Since 1991, there have been at least 500 Black deaths in custody and not a single criminal conviction for those responsible. The Dhadjowa Foundation is a national grassroots organisation that's been established to provide strategic, coordinated and culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families whose loved ones have died in custody. You can support their work by raising awareness, driving donations and sharing information in support of justice and equality.
Werribee Public Art Walking Tour
Explore some of Werribee’s most iconic street art murals with Wyndham City’s new self-guided trail and free audio tour! At each stop, you can listen to the artist talk about their work – no apps required, all you need is your mobile phone and headphones to listen to the audio recordings.
Want to write but not sure what to write about? Check out the latest paid SAARI briefs. The list includes:
A profile of Avani Solanki Prabhakar - a HR expert in culture transformation and 'change journeys' in organisations.
A story on Dogstar Foundation, a dog charity that provides humane dog population management in Sri Lanka.
A profile of Husna Pasha, the new staff mental health manager at Royal Children's Hospital
A summary of "A World Without Email" - a new book about the carbon cost of email and why we’re better off emailing less.
A profile of Keertan Samra, a human rights lawyer named one of Australasia's Most Influential Lawyers in 2021.
A story on Jalal Khan's Brisbane Dental Truck, which provides free dental care to people in remote, Indigenous and refugee communities.
Review of Adelaide's OzAsia Festival - on until 7th of Nov. Pick a show!
A profile of Neeharika Palachanda, host of legal podcast - Behind The Grind.
Profiles of performers, writers and directors in the 2021 Screen Diversity Showcase
Contribute to our profile series on South Asian Australian politicians - ‘how can South Asians break into the halls of power?’
️⭐️Check out the full list of paid SAARI writing briefs and put your name down for one.
Cool fundraiser (AUS): Join Bridging Lanka's conversations series fundraiser, a series of six webinars that will help support vulnerable communities in Sri Lanka, most hard-hit by the pandemic and at the same time bring you lessons from inspirational Sri Lankan Australians who have found and followed their passion and purpose. Click here for more information.
Jobs (VIC): Headspace Mental Health, a national not-for-profit is looking for a part-time migrant and refugee advisor. This exciting new position is leading the development and coordination of headspace initiatives to better support young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds accessing headspace services.
Jobs (AUS): Sydney Morning Herald is on the hunt for a new editor. Are you the next SMH boss? Details here.
Ideas: Naavikaran share their story with SBS, ‘The hazards of dating as a queer person of colour.’ Read their story here.
Good News Story: The Australian Financial Review sat down with Tarun Gupta, Vik Bansal and Vivek Bhatia, who are leading some of the biggest companies in Australia to talk about their ambitions, struggles and how they got to where they are today. Check it out here.
Ideas: Equitylabs is hosting their first edition of the Unlearning Cast Supremacy workshop for organisations this November. Check out their incredible work here.
Ideas: Check out Roanna Consalves’s feature article, ‘How to be resilient in a pandemic’
Opportunities (Aus): Check out IndianCare’s self-care calendar, a resource co-designed with South Asian international students living in Melbourne.
Connection (Sydney): Jaswinder Singh, Co-founder and secretary of Sikh Volunteers Australia (Hallam) has recently been nominated for the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards as a Local Victorian Hero. Sikh Volunteers Australia have been been paramount during the pandemic, delivering free meals to those in need. Check out the organisation here.
Opportunities (VIC): Lead in the prevention of violence against women with AMES Australia over 2 half-days online and learn from experienced and engaging facilitators about how to use your voice to lead and help others be heard in the prevention of violence against women. Details available here.
Jobs (VIC): Museum Victoria is hiring for two roles - a Program Manager and an Educational Project Lead. Get your applications in by 2 November here.
Opportunities (AUS): Are you an Australian male? Movember and Orygen, in consultation with The University of Melbourne, have launched an Australian survey to better understand the impact of COVID on men’s mental health, including how guys have coped with their struggles. Click here to complete a quick survey that aims to collect data to provide insights into the impact of the pandemic on mens mental health.
Opportunity (Canberra): Media Diversity Australia is offering Federal Election Political Fellowships! Supported by Google News Initiative, there are three fellowships worth $15 000 each, that will take place during the federal election and be Canberra-based. Click here for details and get in the mix!
Jobs (Sydney): The powerhouse startup Atlassian Foundation is looking for an internal communications lead. This is an amazing job! Find out how to apply here.
Thanks for being a supporter of SAARI. It means a lot to have you with us as we turn one, and we’re really grateful.
If you know any friends who would like this newsletter, please forward it on, or let them know it’s free and fun to join the SAARI Collective at our website.
Sandeep, Founder, SAARI Collective