3 minute read

Mind Australia congratulates Niharika Hiremath on receiving an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to community health as part of this year’s King’s Birthday honours.

Niharika is a Lived Experience Partner at Mind – a role that sees her use her own lived experience and expertise, and cultural perspective to inform a richer understanding of how the mental health system can and should operate. This is a new position that is helping us at Mind strengthen and better understand the needs of lived experience workforces and support our recruitment, hiring, and training processes to provide the best possible outcomes for lived and living experience staff.

Niharika has been recognised for her work, advocating how intersectionality and lived experience can be leveraged to address systematic gaps and create a safer and more culturally responsive mental health system. This mission is inspired by Niharika’s personal journey navigating the mental health system, which exposed her to its systemic gaps and the need for culturally diverse voices.

She is also a National Board Youth Advisor and Chair of the Multicultural Strategy Advisory Group for headspace National and Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Australian Institute for Diversity in Mental Health.

Niharika said the award was welcome recognition for her advocacy work and the lived experience and expertise movement.

“Recognitions like this are nice to validate that you are on the right track, but I understand that there is plenty more that still needs to be done,” she said.

“I want to acknowledge that I have many allies, organisations, friends and family who have helped me achieve this honour - this wouldn’t have been remotely possible without their tireless support and counsel.

“I also want to dedicate the intention behind this award to those who continue to fight the good fight every single day.”

Mind Australia CEO Gill Callister said Niharika, who at 29 years of age is the youngest recipient in this year’s King’s Birthday honours, was a richly deserving OAM recipient.

“Niharika’s dedication to the lived experience and expertise movement deeply resonates with our essence here at Mind. On behalf of everyone at Mind I congratulate Niharika for her tireless advocacy to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians,” Ms Callister said.

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.