Discovering strength and community through youth dialogue
Del Irani is an ABC News Anchor and host of the forthcoming program Escape from the City. It's a lifestyle show that documents people who leave the big smoke in search of a quieter life. Yet Del's life has been anything but quiet.
Born in India, Del and her family moved to Sydney, Australia when she was eight years old. Del studied abroad at the University of California Berkeley and once she'd finished a business degree, began working for a production company based in Belgium that placed her all over the world including Bermuda, Panama, Dubai and countries across Europe.
After traveling for a couple of years with work, Del returned to India and decided to pursue a career in journalism. However, her Australian accent meant the Indian TV networks didn't know what to do with her and she struggled to find work. Funnily enough, it was her business degree that caught the attention of global news network Thomson Reuters.
"I worked my way up," says Del. "I was an intern, then a producer…and eventually, finally, after a few years I became an anchor."
Del's outstanding work on the Indian news channels, including during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks propelled her into the public eye, landing her a job as BBC World News Mumbai Correspondent and Presenter. This eventually allowed her to secure a job back in Australia at the ABC where she enjoys a cult following and professional accolades.
She is particularly proud of her time with the Australia India Youth Dialogue, an experience she describes as 'life changing'.
"It's such an impressive collection of people that attend the dialogues and fantastic conversations take place on both sides."
Participating in the Youth Dialogue was like discovering a new community of like-minded young people who act as mentors, supporters, professional advocates and friends, she explains.
"I still reap the benefits years later… the network, the amazing contacts and the connections. As an Australian-Indian journalist my biggest champions have always been the Indian community in Australia. I could not be prouder of that. I never expected it but it's lovely to have them on my cheer squad," she says.
Today, as she goes from career strength to strength, Del is proud to be a role model for young Indian girls across the country–and young people generally.
Looking back on her experience, she has three words of advice for migrants starting a life in Australia: "Keep at it".
"Australia is a really welcoming country. I know it can be tough at the beginning–everybody has their challenges. If you look at my story you can see that it hasn't been a straight road; there are definitely ups and downs. But if you stick at it, this is the country of a fair go. If you work hard and do your best, you will be recognised."
"Now that I'm in this role, I realise that I'm in a position of privilege where, hopefully, there's some eight-year-old Indian Australian girl looking at the TV thinking, 'I could be a journalist one day'."
A proud Indian-Australian, Del acknowledges the importance of ethnic diversity within the media for strengthening the relationship between India and Australia.
"'Diverse representation is so important across all industries because seeing is believing. That in itself will inspire change."
We spoke to Del recently about her experiences being an Indian Australian, the vibrant and supportive community that surrounds her, and her exciting life as a trusted face of news in Australia.
Read the full interview with Del Irani from our 'Australia & India. A Dynamic Mix' series.
Learn more about the economic potential of the Australia-India partnership in An India Economic Strategy to 2035 – Navigating from potential to delivery