Panel Theme: International Student Wellbeing

Niharika Hiremath

Member of the Youth Participation Team at headspace's National Office, Advocate with the Australian Youth Advocates for Mental Health (AYAMH) program, and is a Mental Health Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission

Ms Niharika Hiremath is an Indian-Australian woman with a lived experience of clinical depression and anxiety and has herself been through the mental health care system in Australia. Her recovery led her to find her passion; working to understand and reduce stigma, especially in ethnically diverse communities. She has seen the impact that quality mental health support can have firsthand, and is committed to improving wellbeing outcomes for all Australians alike. Currently studying a Masters of Social Work, she is a graduate in Biomedical Sciences, Commerce and Psychology allowing her to bring a broad range of perspectives. She has held various roles as a youth mental health representative, including on the headspace’s Youth National Reference Group (hYNRG) and as a CALD Peer Support Worker. She currently holds roles with the Youth Participation team at headspace's National Office, as an Advocate with the Australian Youth Advocates for Mental Health (AYAMH) program and is a Mental Health Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission.

Kasan Kalhara

National Welfare Officer for the Council of International Students Australia

Kasun Kalhara is the National Welfare Officer of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA). CISA is the peak representative body of the international students in Australia advocating their interests and needs and contributing towards their prosperity in Australia. CISA puts a premium on multiculturalism and gives priority to the engagement of international students. CISA Welfare Office has launched a series of welfare programmes including a wide range of projects, grievance handling systems,  mental health workshops, workplace seminars, focus groups, educational talks, etc across Australia. Kasun and his team are committed to working for the betterment of international students in Australia. In addition, Kasun represents the international students’ voice in the University Academic Board, International Student Experience Associations Round Table, Queensland International Student Advisory Panel and other state and national committees.

Heidi Piper

Director, Griffith International, Griffith University

Heidi Piper is the Director, Griffith International at Griffith University. She has 25 years' experience in the Australian higher education sector including 20 years in international education, and worked at Bond University and The University of Queensland before joining Griffith in late 2006. Her career at Griffith University has included roles as Manager, Griffith Global Mobility, Deputy Director International and, since 2013, Director, Griffith International. Her experience has covered a diverse range of areas in international education including international student experience, marketing and student recruitment, admissions, student mobility, English language sector, development projects, project management, student mobility, and transnational education projects.

Heidi has presented at a number of international education conferences and workshops on topics including an introduction to international education, international education essentials, international student success and retention, risk management in student mobility, and women in leadership. Heidi is the Griffith University representative on the Australian Universities International Directors Forum and manages the AUIDF mentoring program. She works closely with Study Queensland, Study Brisbane and Study Gold Coast in relation to international student experience.

Suresh Rajan

Disability Chair, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia

Suresh Rajan is a prominent advocate for people with disabilities and people of culturally and linguistically diverse communities, as well as international students’ wellbeing. Currently, he is the Disability Chair for FECCA, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia which is the peak body for multicultural organisations in Australia. He is also the President of the Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia. He has recently been involved in the writing of Western Australia's State Disability Strategy for 2020-2030.

Suresh contributes regularly to the media on the issues of students and multiculturalism and racism generally.