A decade of dedication: IndianCare’s remarkable journey

By Indira Laisram
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IndianCare Board // Pic supplied

Jaya Manchikanti, President of IndianCare, vividly recalls the seminal moment of the organisation’s inaugural annual general meeting (AGM) about ten years ago. The presence of an invited Aboriginal elder resonated deeply as he intuitively comprehended the significance of the occasion, offering heartfelt blessings.

“It was a touching and generous moment,” says Manchikanti, reflecting on how this poignant act marked the very birth of IndianCare. It symbolised their unwavering commitment to the welfare of individuals from India and other South Asian backgrounds living in Victoria, setting the tone for a decade of dedicated service.

Fast forward to IndianCare’s ten-year milestone celebration on November 8, where the tradition of unity and support perseveres. Uncle Shane Charles, a Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung, and Yorta Yorta Elder, graces the event with his blessing, seamlessly connecting the organisation’s past with its vibrant present.

IndianCare, an ethno-specific organisation co-founded in 2013 by Manchikanti, was born out of a necessity to address the welfare needs of Indian and South Asian migrants in Victoria. Their approach is rooted in leveraging individual strengths to foster growth and well-being.

Jaya Manchikanti // Pic supplied

“I am elated that IndianCare has reached the milestone of 10 years because, when we initially embarked on this journey, sceptics doubted its feasibility, believing it would be challenging to unite such a diverse community. However, we not only proved them wrong but also managed to bring along a multitude of individuals, and that, to me, is the most gratifying achievement,” says Manchikanti.

In fact, Manchikanti’s dedication and tireless efforts in establishing IndianCare were recognised with the 2021 Victorian Volunteer Champion and Leadership Awards, and in 2022, she was inducted into the inaugural Victorian Multicultural Honor Roll. This journey of a decade is a testament to the vision and persistence that continue to shape IndianCare’s impactful work in the community.

In these many years, IndianCare has taken on many projects, from helping international students and addressing alcohol and drug issues to preventing family violence and championing gender equality. They have also participated in a concert featuring a transgender artist, aimed at promoting greater awareness and fostering inclusivity.

In the past year, IndianCare has successfully delivered 15 community projects. Its helpline provided in-language support to more than 400 distress calls. Of all the calls received, 1/4th of calls were for Emergency relief and the rest were for various reasons such as family violence, legal assistance, family services, mental health, etc.

IndianCare supported international students in various ways, from placements to short-term job contracts, ensuring they received fair wages and a smoother transition into Australian life. Volunteering opportunities also played a significant role, with many volunteers securing paid jobs—a source of immense pride for the organisation.

Says Ritu Dahiya, who came as an international student to Melbourne from India and got connected to IndianCare through her university, La Trobe, “It was a home away from home. I made new connections, started volunteering, and also found a job through them.”

In the same vein, staff member Ananya Alagh says, “I did COVID-related communications, multicultural outreach program initially, and and am currently working on marketing for IndianCare, all while continuing to study IT. There is such good energy in the team.”

Saleha Singh, board member of IndianCare, adds, “The journey of IndianCare is a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of our team. We have strived to create a community that embraces diversity and provides the support and care needed by South Asian migrants in Victoria. IndianCare’s journey is not just about the past 10 years, but a promise of continued commitment to the well-being of our community.”

Celebrating ten years of IndianCare at Khazana Indian Restaurant, Wantrina South, on November 8 // Photo supplied

In the grand scheme of things, IndianCare quietly altered the landscape of Victoria in a steady yet profound manner, contributing to a more inclusive and caring society.

Their remarkable journey received recognition from Girish Singh Kavia, the Head of Chancery and Consul at the Indian Consulate in Melbourne, who applauded their dynamism in various fields.

Trung Luu, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs, also commended their achievements.

The Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) has praised IndianCare’s work with VCMC leader Mohamed Mohideen saying, “It is a wonderful organisation, and I had the opportunity to work with them during COVID as well. I wish them the very best and look forward to witnessing many more achievements in the future.”

Dr Vasundhara Kandpal, Manager IndianCare // Photo supplied

Looking ahead, Manchikanti is passionate about the future. “Our new venture that I’m particularly committed to is a project focused on family violence prevention in a more systemic manner. We aim to unite all the organisations that support the Indian and South Asian community in various pockets of Melbourne where they work on preventing family violence. Our goal is to bring them together to form a network for Project Maitri, which means ‘friendship,’ with the intention of creating a collective impact.

“Furthermore, we plan to collaborate with mainstream service providers and educate them about the specific issues related to family violence in the Indian community, providing them with essential resources. I find this project particularly invigorating because it operates at a systemic level, ensuring a more significant impact not only for IndianCare but also for our collaborative efforts,” she says.

Ritu Dahiya

Despite challenges, primarily funding, Jaya expresses gratitude for the outpouring of support and goodwill from the community, which is shifting the landscape in positive ways. The hope is for IndianCare to continue making a difference and inspire kindness and care within society.

“We have received an abundance of goodwill. I hope to build on this momentum, and I have a strong sense that we will. One unexpected and heartwarming aspect is the commitment of others, even without prompting from me or my team, who express their desire to assist and contribute. This, to me, is a sign of a shifting landscape.”

As IndianCare marks its first decade, it stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to support one another.

Feel free to contact IndianCare at 1300 005 040 or by clicking this link

 


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