The community’s voice in Parliament

By Poornima Koonath
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Jospephs Gate

As Pallavi Sinha stakes her claim in the upcoming State elections, Poornima Koonath speaks to the lawyer on her journey to legislator

In February of 2016, when Pallavi Sinha featured on the cover of the Indian Sun, the cover second generation Indian Australian spoke of her commitment to Indians assimilated in Australian society and who have made the country their adopted home. “I think that politics is a great way to add to the betterment of society and to make a difference,” she had said. “I have considered opportunities that have been presented to me. If the right opportunity came at the right time, and I could maintain my values and principles, I would welcome it.”

That ‘right opportunity’ has come by and Pallavi has been given a ticket to the Upper House Legislative Assembly Council and will be staking her claim in the upcoming State elections on 23 March.

Pallavi has been an advocate of women’s rights and fairness for many years. She has participated in a number of debates and discussions around dowry practices and domestic violence. Apart from being the first Indian Australian woman to be invited to join the one of Australia’s leading Speaker’s Bureau, The Saxton’s Speaker’s Bureau, she is also the first Indian Australian woman to be invited to participate in the Ethics Centre Intelligence Squared debate which was broadcast on ABC and BBC World. Pallavi believes in giving back to the society in whatever way she can. According to Pallavi, “Standing up for and giving a voice to the disadvantaged, has always been a motivation for me from school when I was Rotary Interact President and raised funds for charity, right through to university and my working life in different roles.” In the past she has hosted 702 ABS Radio and is also a familiar face on ABC TV Q & A sessions.

Pallavi has been always been passionate in her drive to educate and create awareness in the areas of domestic or family violence and mental health. In 2017, she joined community advocates from around the country in urging parents, carers and other influential adults to think about what young people learn from their words and actions and take small steps to help break the cycle of violence against women. Asked to comment on the issue, Pallavi was quite clear in what she hopes for the future. “As influencers of young people, whether we’re parents, family members, teachers, coaches, employers or role models, what we say, do and how we act in front of young people does have an impact,” she had commented. She had further added, “If we ignore, downplay or excuse disrespectful behaviour, we are teaching our young people that it is ok. This is dangerous, because we now know that violence against women starts with disrespect.”

Pallavi believes being an accomplished lawyer is an asset as she is looking forward to representing the voice of the Indian community in the Parliament. In an interview for Lawyers Weekly, she said, “Lawyers are also taught to think critically and analytically which is useful for making substantive contributions to policy. When lawyers become legislators, they bring a particular perspective that helps them to solve problems, which the legislature may be presented with, and they will often be able to build a strong case in favour or against a particular policy or course of action. [And] many lawyers also have experience advocating on behalf of community interests, which can develop into an interest in politics, centred on serving the community.”

 

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