This is Miss Swathi Shanmukhasundaram
Swathi is a community worker, lawyer, advocate and Indian-born migrant living in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Raised by a passionate south-Indian Tamil family, she tirelessly advocates for the promotion of mental health literacy in refugee and migrant communities. She finds ways to invest her own lived experiences, having been knowingly and unknowingly exposed to the complexities of mental illness through a carer and consumer perspective throughout her life, in projects where community and identity are at the heart of everything.
During her time as a Youth Advisor at the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), she helped develop a youth mental health outreach program now known as ‘Reverb.’ The program places diverse young speakers with lived-experience of mental illness in high schools and strives to connect young people with clinical and non-clinical mental health supports in their own communities. Swathi has also held numerous community advisory and leadership positions in Melbourne and has contributed to national mental health consultations and research projects.
Swathi fused her love for law, advocacy and community to found The Vermilion Project. Since founding The Vermilion Project in 2019, she has gone on to spearhead national campaigns, appear in media and consult on policy development initiatives to ensure people suffering from conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, invisible illnesses and more may be better supported at work and in culturally diverse social settings. She was recognised as a Young Social Pioneer by the Foundation for Young Australians, Create Change Fellow at Democracy in Colour, Global Shaper (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) and is the Victorian State Representative for the Youth Advocacy Network to MYAN Australia. Swathi is a globally sought after keynote speaker and currently juggles all of that whilst working in the not-for-profit and legal sectors in Australia.
Why does mental health matter to you?
I believe the people that we love are worth fighting for. I fight to disrupt systems and ensure lived experience and co-design are central in the creation of our healthcare systems.