Family and friendship spark a Rising Star

In 2017 Tarang Chawla was presented with the Faculty of Arts Rising Star Award for his leadership and contribution to community advocacy against domestic violence in Australia. Tarang founded “Not One More Niki”, a campaign to end violence against women and children in memory of his sister Nikita.

Tarang was nominated for the Rising Star Award by his friend Robert White.

Robert and Tarang met whilst studying the Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) in 2009 and have been friends ever since.


Tarang and I met in a tutorial. I was in my second year and we sat next to each other. We had a coffee after class and became mates pretty much straight away.

When we were at uni we did a radio program together at SYN Media. It was our version of the Gruen Transfer. We wanted to become like Hamish and Andy, but we weren’t that funny! I think having a project to work on was the glue of our friendship.

I nominated Tarang for the Rising Star Award because following the death of his sister he reacted in a very courageous way, I thought that was incredible. I don’t think the tragedy his family suffered has defined his life, I think it has redirected it.

Tarang is such an intelligent guy. He talks to school kids, sits on government and cultural boards and is an advocate for positive change. I don’t know anyone else who is doing their own thing the way Tarang is.

It’s nice seeing people who do good things being recognised for their work. I’m really happy the award went to Tarang.


Rob and I have known each other for nearly 10 years. We met in a cultural studies class and it didn’t take long for us to become friends. We were both interested in cultural studies, and we both had a penchant for speaking our mind during tutorials. I think we formed a friendship based on our shared interests and similar personalities. Rob constantly challenges me, he’s always introducing me to new books, ideas and ways of looking at the world. I’d like to think I challenge him, too.

Despite taking different career paths and living in separate countries for a time, Rob and I have managed to maintain a close friendship. The personal connections I’ve made at University continue to be an integral part of my life.

It was such a nice feeling to receive the Award and to be recognised by my peers for the work I am doing and the impact it is having on the community. It reminded me of just how much I learned in my time at the University of Melbourne, how it has shaped me into the person I am and how it will support me in the work I plan to do in the future.

When I started my advocacy work, I had no expectation that it would lead to any kind of recognition. To have my work recognised is a deeply humbling experience.

The Rising Star Award sits in my parents’ front room alongside my certificate from The Australian of the Year Awards, with a photograph of my late sister, Nikita.

The Faculty of Arts is committed to recognising alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen field, and who have made a considerable contribution to the Faculty, the University and their communities through their endeavours.

Do you know an outstanding Arts alumnus making a difference locally or internationally?

Nominations for the Arts Alumni Awards are now open