Pallavi Sinha is a lawyer, lecturer and community leader who has twice been a finalist in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards. And she is now seeking a career in politics.
Sinha, a long-time advocate for women particularly around domestic violence, is the only Indian origin person on the Liberal ticket for the NSW Upper House Legislative Council for the State election on 23 March 2019.
“Dating back to school when I did the HSC I had an interest in taking a stand and fighting for what’s right,” she says “For that reason I chose law over medicine which was unconventional in my family. Law seemed a good way to fight for what’s right.”
Her resume is impressive with a mix of experiences in the private, public and community sectors. After completing a double degree in economics and law at the University of Sydney, with honours, Sinha worked as a Research Assistant for Justice David Kirby before joining the corporate law firm now known as King & Wood Mallesons.
She later worked as a Legal Mediator at CatholicCare and then an Executive Officer at the Migration Institute of Australia. Pallavi currently serves as Vice-President of the Australia Indian Business Council (AIBC), Co-Chair of Women in Business AIBC, and on the Multicultural Consultation Council of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board.
She is a former People of Australia Ambassador and was the only person from NSW elected to the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils Australia (FECCA) as Women’s Committee Advisory Chair in 2014.
“I started to think about how I could influence policy and legislation and I realised one of the best ways to do that is to be in Parliament where those laws are made,” Sinha says. “I became a member of the Liberal party because I believe strongly in the values it represents particularly around rewarding hard work and enterprise. Coming from a migrant family background working hard and giving a positive contribution really resonated with me.”
Pallavi’s parents came from Delhi in India but have lived in Sydney for four decades.
“Initially Dad came for a short-term wanted to experience life in a foreign country,” Sinha says. “My brother was 2 years old at the time but they liked it so much they decided to call it home and it’s been 40 years.”
Pallavi was born a few years afterwards.
“It’s the classic migrant story,” Sinha says. “They had to work very hard, they had no family or friends here and they built a medical practice from scratch.”
Sinha’s interest in domestic violence came about initially because of her position as a registered migration agent.
“I was often encountering women who had experienced domestic violence and I represented many survivors as a migration agent,” she says.
Ever since Sinha has worked with community groups, the media and politicians at state and federal level to seek to effect positive change for individuals impacted by domestic violence, particularly those from culturally diverse backgrounds. She presented submissions before a Senate Committee on Domestic Violence on behalf of FECCA and some of her recommendations were adopted. She was also involved in meetings with the former Minister for Immigration which led to changes to migration policy aimed to increase domestic violence survivors’ access to justice.
She has lobbied for recognition of the existence and incidence of dowry abuse in Australia, worked on a pre-departure checklist for migrants coming to Australia relating to domestic violence and been a spokesperson for the government’s DV campaign to Stop it at the Start.
“I believe strongly in taking a stand and I see being a candidate as an important opportunity to do that,” she says. “We need strong voices in parliament who have diverse life and work experiences. I have been involved in women’s issues for many years and I’m acutely aware of community issues important to culturally diverse groups in Australia. I want to be a strong voice for women.”
On the subject of the Liberal party’s ‘women problem’, Sinha is diplomatic.
“There is more work to be done but I am aware of the work the party is doing,” she says. “The NSW liberal party has some incredibly capable women in it, indeed there is one at the helm in the Premier.”
Violet Roumeliotis, a Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year & In Style Magazine’s Community Champion 2018, sees Sinha as the kind of candidate who can create change.
“Australia is far from having gender diversity, especially in public life. But [there is hope] when we have extraordinary individuals who are fearless, like Pallavi, who have credentials, who are committed to their community, who are qualified,” she told Sakhi Online. “Pallavi is the sort of person that I would love to see representing us in Parliament.”