Deepak Bhardwaj is a volunteer with a vision and mission. Heading several charitable organisations and spearheading causes from gender equality in sports to advocating for new migrants and people who are engaged in transport business, this 38-year-old is determined to make a difference
What drives Deepak Bhardwaj? He doesn’t have to think twice to answer, who moved to SA 12 years ago. “It’s doing the right thing, whatever the circumstance.”
A better life and wellbeing is far more important than a big bank balance and social status, adds the Governor Award Winner 2017, one of the youngest ever to win in the community sector.
For Deepak, his study, work and volunteering were always on the same page, which is why, after being the voice of the new migrants and taxi industry for several years, he left his profession and decided to make his passion his profession. “I knew the problems that new migrants were having. So I stepped forward,” says Deepak, who used his team leading, public interaction, and social skills, to represent the group and bring their concerns to light.
Deepak, who works as a community liaison officer for South Asian communities with Relationships Australia South Australia (RASA), is also a full-time student with the Flinders University pursuing his Masters in Social Work. He is also inclined to commence his PhD in the near future—with a topic that focuses on society. Things have not come easy for Deepak, having faced several hardships as a new migrant. “I was involved in social service even in my school and university,” says Deepak, who is now involved with several charitable organisations.
On the sports front, Deepak is the founding member of the new Multicultural Sporting Hub program, working with peak sports bodies for multicultural youth in SA. He has also immersed himself in advocating for the welfare of Indian international student who are under-resourced upon arrival in SA. “It helps building confidence and empowers them to have a positive impact on their new communities,” he says.
Deepak says he is also involved in several programs to promote both footy and cricket. “Aussie Rules, being a local game of Australia, is less popular among migrants. But I’ve tried to involve kids from various migrants families in the game because sport is one of the best ways to gain a sense of belonging in a new country,” says Deepak. “While kids played the parents had an opportunity to engage and communicate with each other. I encouraged parents to be volunteers within the program. We had several Afghan, Pakistani, Nepalese and Indian families join us,” he says.
“Most recently, the Adelaide Crows got together with Multicultural Communities Australia to organise an introduction to Footy trainings session at AAMI stadium. More than 50 kids from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds attended the first training session,” says Deepak. “We are hoping that programs like these create more cohesive, tolerant and inclusive communities that value diversity, increase the culture of respect and tolerance among young people, and reduce crime and in alcohol and drug misuse.”
Another initiative that Deepak spearheaded is the Milo in2cricket centre at Gaza Sports Club, a joint initiative of MCA and SACA. The launch of this Program was held at the Adelaide Oval on a big scale where leaders of many communities and dignitaries were invited. Deepak recruited 78 kids boys and girls from many communities.
Another initiative was when the England cricket team toured Australia for the Ashes Series in SA. The teams for the first time used a ‘PINK’ ball to play in test match—where Deepak and his team exposed young cricket players to this opportunity. The project focused on ‘gender equality’ with both young girls and boys displaying their passion for the game. Professional coaches were recruited to train these kids, a mission that brought cricket from the backyard to a professional stadium. “For the kids it was a dream opportunity,” says Deepak.
At RASA, he spreads awareness against gambling and about blood bone viruses. “Our community members are hesitant to come forward and have a discuss gambling,” says Deepak. “RASA encourages social interactions and discussions over such topics and community issues in order to resolve specific personal and broader concerns.”
As a founder member of the Hindu Social and Welfare Association of SA, Deepak plays a strong role in helping the organisation celebrate Indian religious, traditional and cultural festivals in Adelaide, like Janamashtmi and Shivratri, where the wider community is welcomed to participate and familiarise themselves with Indian culture.
With his positive mental attitude and relationship building skills Deepak is doing amazing work in helping the multicultural community. He is always willing to volunteer his time, support and always ready to share his experience and knowledge with the community. He works closely with Indian High Commission in Canberra at times of crisis or possible emergencies.