Australia inspired by success in India’s slums

24 May 2016: Asha’s Dr Kiran Martin and young slum resident Usha will provide insights direct from Delhi’s slums to inform Australia’s indigenous and aid programs.

Speaking at an event with the Governor General, hosted by DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese on 25 May, Dr Martin will outline Asha’s innovative model that has transformed 60 Delhi slums into regular communities.

Asha’s model centres on community empowerment, encouraging slum residents to give-back. Asha’s model is the blueprint for India’s national community health program and has been awarded “best practice” by UN Habitat. Dr Martin has been awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards.

Usha, in her first time out of India, will share her personal journey. Since Usha was a child she dreamed of becoming a journalist. At 24 years old, the dream is coming true having been admitted to a top Hindi journalism school in July. Her journey started at 9 years old, Usha as President of the Asha Children’s Group in her slum. She led campaigns to encourage children to stay in school. Usha is the first girl in her slum to attend university – most others married before finishing school. Through Asha’s programs she has interned at the Australian and Canadian High Commissions as well as the Hindustan Times.

Dr Martin and Usha will meet the Governor General, the Governor of Victoria, senior DFAT and Prime Minister and Cabinet officials managing Australia’s development and indigenous programs as well as the University of Melbourne.

Asha (“hope” in Hindi) was founded by Dr Martin as a young pediatrician during a cholera outbreak and has grown to touch 500,000 lives in 71 Delhi slums by:
- empowerment of communities through women’s and children’s groups to improve health, education, access to finance and infrastructure
- private sector engagement including with Rio Tinto, Macquarie Bank, Bendigo Bank, Pratt Foundation, State Bank of India, Tata Consultancy Services
- international links including Australia, UK, US, Ireland and Japan
- university links with Harvard, Monash University and the University of Melbourne, including the Nossal Institute’s research report on Asha’s model.

Asha’s work has received deep support in Australia over 25 years including from Governor Generals, Foreign Minister Bishop, former PM Gillard, Governors of Victoria Dessau and Chernov and Ambassador for Women and Girls.

Further information: and
Contact: Richard Leder ( +61 418 170 790) or Elizabeth Peak (, +61 466305505). Dr Martin and Usha are available for interviews: Sydney- 23 May, Canberra - 24, 25 May, Melbourne - 26, 27 May.

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