A 37-year-old Indian- origin Australian diplomat has made history by becoming the country's youngest ambassador after he was appointed as Canberra's envoy to Israel.
Devanand Sharma, popularly known as Dave Sharma, Australia's new envoy to Israel is only the second Australian- Indian to be appointed ambassador, the other being Peter Varghese who was Australia's Ambassador to India. Varghese was born in Kenya to Malayali parents.
Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr last month had announced that Sharma will replace Andrew Faulkner as the country's Ambassador to Israel in June.
Sharma, who was born in Vancouver and moved to Sydney in 1979, said he wants to change how Australians think of the Middle Eastern country.
Sharma's lineage can be traced to Uttar Pradesh and his grandfather migrated to Trinidad in 1908 from India.
Talking to a local daily in Melbourne recently after his new appointment, Sharma said, "When Australians think of Israel they think of conflict in the Middle East."
"But I want to broaden the understanding of what Israel is to a country like Australia," he said.
Sharma grew up in Turramurra and graduated from Turramurra High School in 1993.
After finishing school he studied at Cambridge University followed by medicine at the University of Sydney, and then a Masters in International Relations from Deakin University.
Sharma said Australia could learn from Israel on technology and innovation, while stronger links between universities could be set up.
He said Australia supported a two-state solution to the Israel and Palestine conflict, but would not have a major role to play in negotiations.
Sharma has earlier served in the Australian diplomatic offices as Counselor at the Australian Embassy in Washington, Third Secretary at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby and as Senior Civilian Adviser with the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville.
He was also an Adviser to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer from 2004 to 2006.
The Indian-origin diplomat is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently Assistant Secretary in the Africa Branch, and previously, Acting First Assistant Secretary, International Division in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
"I was born in Vancouver moving to Parramatta in Sydney in 1979. At that time we were the only Sharma listed in the Australian telephone book. I grew up in Sydney but remain in close touch with the Indian side of my family," Sharma was quoted by J-wire as saying said.
Sharma will be accompanied to Israel by his wife Rachel and their three daughters.