The National Sikh Council of Australia recently announced Amrit Versha as the first recipient of National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) individual award for inspiring prevention initiatives.
Amrit was chosen for being an advocate for children’s safety and well-being in the migrant and refugee community. This award was presented to Amrit by General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (retd), governor general, Commonwealth of Australia, at the launch of the National Child Protection Week at Admiralty House, Kirribilli, Sydney, recently.
Amrit, who migrated to Australia from Ludhiana in Punjab, has more than 25 years of experience in community service and has been conferred with this prestigious award because of the dedicated work she has done for the women and children from various backgrounds who have experienced family violence.
Talking to HT over the phone, Amrit said, “It has been a very satisfying and a selfless journey till date. I feel obliged that this two decade long hard work has been appreciated. This award leaves me further motivated to work for humanity.”
On sharing her work in detail, she said, “I am a founder and patron of the Sikh Women’s Girl’s Group (SWAGG), which is a programme of the National Sikh Council of Australia, which was launched in March 2015. Here, I used community dialogues to mobilise women and men from the community to join an education movement to prevent violence against women and children. Now this group has gathered momentum and is using action learning strategies to harness leadership amongst women and girls to support women who are affected by domestic violence and to create prevention programmes.”
Today, Amrit Versha is a community worker, educator and human rights advocate and is pursuing her doctorate in social sciences from Madurai University in India.
“My thesis is exploring the interface of family violence with settlement in migrant and refugee communities. The first part of this study was completed as a partnership action research project with three refugee communities, Community Migrant Resource Centre and Centre of Refugee Research UNSW. This research was published as a community report, which led to the development of several prevention programmes for newly-arrived refugee communities. The second phase of this study is exploring similar issues with migrant groups from the Indian subcontinent,” she shared.
Amrit has also been a key player in establishing best practice model for the humanitarian settlement programme in NSW for which she was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award in 2013. Amrit has been nominated twice for the Premier’s Women of the Year Award for her work on prevention of family violence within migrant and refugee communities.