Shashi Kochhar OAM was recently honoured at the Victorian Seniors of the Year Awards for his more than 30-year service to the community.

Shashi Kochhar OAM (left) with ECCV Board Member Dr Medha Gunawardana at the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards 2023.

While Sunday mornings are typically a time to relax, Shashi Kochhar is busy brainstorming for his beloved charity, the Friends of the Children Foundation.

The energetic volunteer is preparing for his charity’s upcoming event on 16 March in Oakleigh called Community Awakening Day, where local schools and community groups come together to promote harmony and support a common cause.

Since it was founded in 1998, the charity has raised millions of dollars to fund much-needed equipment and training for children’s hospitals, and continues to support important initiatives to this day, including the Walk for Monash Children’s Hospital and the Good Friday Appeal.

The charity also collects leftover food from bakeries and supermarkets to distribute to those in need, and organises environmental projects such as tree planting and clean-up days.

Shashi’s passion for volunteering stems from his desire to give back to Australia, which he believes has provided him with many opportunities.

“This land has fulfilled all my dreams, and given me everything in abundance, love, respect and care. Now it is my duty to give something back, show my appreciation, and show my gratitude to this land and its people,” he says.

Shashi’s dedication to helping others earned him recognition at the 2023 Victorian Senior of the Year Awards, where he won the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Senior Achiever Award. He also received a Multicultural Champion Award from the City of Monash in 2018, and was given an Order of Australia medal in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2019.

The Friends of the Children Foundation raises funds to provide equipment and training for children’s hospitals.

Shashi first arrived to Australia from India in 1971 as a student to advance his career in textiles. After his studies ended in 1974, Shashi returned to India, but his heart remained here.

“One day, I told my dad that I want to go back to Australia, and he said, ‘You’re doing so good here, why do you want to uproot everything and go there?’” Shashi reflects.

“Because my parents came from Pakistan before partition, they knew how long and hard it is [to settle]. They were still not settled in India after 20 years. So, he said it will take a long time when you go to a new country to settle down.”

Despite his father’s reservations, Shashi resettled in Geelong in 1978. Four years later, he and his friends founded the Geelong Asian Community Association, which organised trips and activities to teach people across Victoria about Indian culture.

“Within a few months, we were in the Geelong Advertiser,” Shashi says.

Shashi has also helped the community as a Justice of the Peace, and continues to serve on the board of the Monash Multifaith Group.

He is a dedicated blood donor, having made 211 donations to the Australian Red Cross. “I can proudly say I have more than 1000 blood relations in Australia!” he says.

 

This article was published in the December 2023 edition of Our Golden Years. Read it here.

“Now it is my duty to give something back, show my appreciation, and show my gratitude to this land and its people.”

Shashi Kochhar OAM