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Mind your Mental Health webinar during the COVID-19 pandemic with Hon Julian Leeser

“If all my pain and all my tears and all that I have learnt throughout these years could lift a fallen head, could lighten a darker mind then I should think not in vain was my service to the mankind,” – Sushmita Sen.

AISECS, conducted a live webinar on 30th April 2020 with right honorable. Julian Lesser Federal MP of Berowra, Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Migration, Indigenous Affairs, Suicide Prevention and Chair of Indian Community in the Parliament on how to manage mental stress especially during a time of uncertainty like COVID – 19.

The webinar opened as panellists introduced themselves from right across the country and the globe. Cindy, Sunidhi, Reet, Gurnam, Andrew, Faalia, Zoran, Navneet, Abhishek, Reuben who shared his birthday on the same date with all of us and Ashish patiently waits for their true and overwhelming guest.

Gurnam realised he was there; unobtrusively observing and trying to settle his headphones across his ears. Yes, we are talking about Julian, who accompanied us with so much empathy and connection that one human being makes with another.

“I know what a hugely important issue this is,” – says Lesser sharing his deeply personal and intimate story.

“I told a story at the time of my first maiden speech at the parliament about my father’s death by suicide now some 24 years ago. Why did I tell this story? My father was like so many men of his age. He was 55, a quiet man, a generation of men who were told not to express their feelings. He was a reserved man, an accountant at the practice of Parramatta. He was very involved in community activities where Jewish was involved in our synagogue. We just did not pick up the signs that he was contemplating suicide; in the week before he died his behaviour started to change and when you look back at it now you would realize what exactly was going on,”says – Julian.

“We were family who always used to hug each other and I AM GREAT BELIEVER IN HEALING POWER OF HUG. He used to give us long hugs, quite unusual during those days.” The reason I spoke; was to effectively say to the people that we as Australians should notice the signs of suicide and know what to do if we see the signs in someone who might be contemplating suicide and somebody in the parliament understands what that is,”Bespoke – Julian.

His words hit home like a slag hammer, evoking a depth of emotions. These were conversations from life, these are people we can know.

Are you ok? Or more confronting and perhaps more importantly? Are you contemplating suicide? That’s a big question to ask another person. – says Julian fast and furiously. Sharing relevant helplines with everyone – Lifeline 131113, beyond blue, has a special COVID hotline – 1300224636 and if you are contemplating suicide and you can’t get through, there is a suicide callback service 1300659467 and they will call you back, men health line 1300789978.

Julian responsibly commanded the frame making every panellist felt like he or she belonged to the frame. You could see his determination and unshakable affection for everyone present at that webinar conference. 

Gurnam, who was effortlessly compelling, completed the triangle.

Everyone celebrated Reuben’s birthday in the end. “I never thought in a zoom call I would hear happy birthday song sung to me on my birthday,” – bespoke Reuben. 

Everyone enjoyed the interaction with the champion and we need more champions like Julian. AISECS can’t imagine a better champion them him.

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High Commissioner of India to Australia addresses International Students on Covid-19 challenges

Interactive session of High Commissioner of India with students on the COVID-19 situation. On 17 April 2020, the High Commissioner of India to Australia Mr. Gitesh Sarma had a live interaction with Indian students from major cities across Australia on the COVID19 pandemic situation.

During the discussions facilitated by the Australian-Indian Sports Educational and Cultural Society (AISECS), Mr.Gitesh Sarma responded to a number of specific queries from participants on various issues related to the welfare of the Indian student community in Australia.

In the course of his interaction, Mr. Sarma briefed the students on the various steps taken by the Mission and the three Indian Consulates in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to provide relief assistance to needy Indian nationals, especially the student community across major cities in the country.

In this regard, Mr. Sarma also noted and conveyed his appreciation for the major role played by Indian community and diaspora organisations in Australia in serving the needy during the difficult times.

In response to queries on travelling back to India, Mr. Sarma pointed to the extension of travel restrictions in India till 3 May 2020 and emphasised on the importance of everyone to come together in the national and global effort to resolutely fight the pandemic. Emphasising on the need to develop a feeling of togetherness, Mr. Sarma requested the students to be in close touch with their family and friends, while ensuring that they comply with the relevant advisories from the local authorities and follow the social distancing norms. Consul General of India in Sydney Mr. Manish Gupta, Founder of AISECS Mr. Gurnam Singh and Ambassador Mr. Reet Pal Singh also participated actively during the interaction.

Thank you Ministry of External Affairs Government of India for the support.

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