Bridging the gap between cultures: How Padmini Sebastian made it possible

Arts Alumna and recent Order of Australia Medal awardee, Padmini Sebastian is the Manager of the Immigration Museum in Victoria. Her interest in cultural exchange and shaping society propelled her towards the humanities, and a career at one of Victoria's leading cultural museums.

Padmini developed a curiosity for cross-cultural understanding early on from having grown up in Sri Lanka - with a mix of different nationalities. Finding ways to bring people together and engage in dialogue through artistic practice became a growing interest and she explored her curiosity through politics and international relations by studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne.

Arts Alumna and recent Order of Australia Medal awardee, Padmini Sebastian is the Manager of the Immigration Museum in Victoria.

Understanding society through the humanities

"Humanities helped me to connect with and understand people. It is a wonderful window onto the world as it helps us make sense of the past, analyse and understand the present and imagine and shape the future.

My time at University was the beginning of a new chapter in my life; it was a time to be part of critical discussions around significant transformations happening around the world, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the movement to end Apartheid, Perestroika and changes to China to name a few."

Appreciating different cultures with personal stories

Recently awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her service to multiculturalism, and to the community, Padmini now works as a Manager of the Immigration Museum - a museum filled with real stories of people who migrated to Victoria.

"Joining a museum was not a career path I had initially considered. The idea of an Immigration Museum was exciting and presented an opportunity to create a new museum experience - one that is about people, participation, creative innovation and possibilities.

Contributing to the Museum through new ways of community participation, and creating a dynamic and living cultural space for people in Victoria, Australia and around the world is a highlight for me both personally and professionally. I get to explore new ideas, disrupt and innovate and explore new possibilities for the future."

I work with extraordinary people within and outside the Museum - I continue to learn from, be inspired by, challenged and transformed by colleagues, mentors and connections.

A bright future for arts students

When asked what advice she would impart to future students about to embark on a course of study in the humanities, Padmini suggests that students do all they can to explore the myriad possibilities available: experience different ways of thinking, enjoy the opportunity to meet different people and learn to value a wide range of interests and viewpoints.

This week the Faculty of Arts celebrates the many extraordinary accomplishments of its students, staff and graduates who have helped make a better world; International Women's Day is held on 8 March 2017 and the 2017 theme is #BeBoldForChange.