MEET SWATHI, OUR YOUTH AMBASSADOR NETWORK (YAN) REPRESENTATIVE FROM VICTORIA!
1. Who is Swathi Shanmukhasundaram?
I’m an Indian born migrant, a law graduate and a 25 year old navigating a quarter-life crisis!
2. What sparks a fire in you, and why?
I care deeply about mental health issues and ensuring equality and inclusiveness in society and workplaces. Inclusive practice is conducive to good mental health outcomes, and causes people to feel more included and confident to participate in society. My experience of being a carer to a family member with a mental illness, and the fact that it’s not spoken about a lot in my community, make me even more passionate. I believe that the current mental health systems weren’t designed with culturally and linguistically diverse people in mind and I’d like to see the system be simplified, as well as better education and support no matter a person’s age or literacy levels.
3. What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
Graduating from university with two degrees and presenting my personal journey with mental health at the International Association for Youth Mental Health’s International Youth Mental Health Conference 2019.
4. Who is your hero and why?
My parents, cheesy I know, because they raised two daughters through great adversity and we both turned out fine and graduated, so that’s amazing. Also they raised us to be socially conscious, and to do the right thing in the world which is important.
Oh also Alexandra Ocasio Cortez – she represent everything I think needs to happen in the world. For women from refugee and migrant backgrounds to find confidence and clarity in their personal narrative and harness this as a force to break barriers and be part of systemic change.
5. What is your most treasured possession?
Moisturiser. As someone who suffered from severe eczema as a child having a good skincare routine has become an essential part of my self-care. It has helped me develop a better relationship with my skin and my identity as a person of colour. I have it with me all the time!
6. Why did you apply to be the MYAN YAN representative for NSW?
I am interested in working with young people from different states to promote conversations around mental health and menstrual health.
7. What skills and talents are you bringing to the YAN 2020?
I am a law graduate with over 5 years experience in human rights law and health law. I am a soon to be admitted lawyer and passionate community worker who regularly consults on diversity and inclusion projects for various organisations.
8. What are you hoping to achieve in 2020 as YAN’s VIC representative?
I’d like to raise the bar on how we view diversity and inclusion in our society and highlight what workplaces and organisations can do to ensure they are truly accessible to all young people, and that young people can thrive in those spaces free of discrimination.
9. What advice do you have for young people wanting to make a difference in the world?
Say yes to the opportunities that scare you the most and make mistakes. Being afraid of failure is a huge hindrance and I encourage everyone to seek out friends and mentors that will support your journey.
10. How can young people get involved in the work you do?
Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @thevermilionproject and @swathi.sundari on Twitter.