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Indian-origin artist and musician Pradeep Prabhakaran aka as Sedunath Prabhakar has been denied the Distinguished Talent visa which would have allowed him to stay in Australia permanently.
Mr Prabhakaran is a well-known painter and an Indian Carnatic classical musician who runs the Kalakshetra Art and Music School in Melbourne.
One of his most significant works, a series of portraits of 50 eminent Australians painted on a single canvas and titled ‘Pride of Australia’ was displayed in Queen’s Hall in the Victorian Parliament House on 24 and 25 May 2017.
An artistic painter in traditional Indian and western contemporary styles of painting, Mr Prabhakaran graduated in fine arts from the Baroda School of Arts in 1998 and arrived in Australia in 2008.
In 2015, he established the Kalakshetra Art and Music School in Melbourne where he says the inspiration behind the school was ‘his strong desire to introduce the Indian culture, art and music to the young generation of Australians and Indians who reside in Australia.”
In his school, he trains students to draw, paint and also teaches students Indian Carnatic classical music.
He has displayed his works, both in India and Australia, including group exhibitions at the Collingwood Art Gallery and Chelsea Art Gallery in Melbourne.
He has won local awards, recognition and certificate of appreciation and contributions by the local Indian organisations and has been featured widely in the local community media.
Based on this profile, Mr Prabhakaran applied for a Distinguished Talent (Residence) Class BX visas in July 2016. This is a permanent residency visa for people who have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement.
However, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (now Department of Home Affairs) refused him and his family the Distinguished Talent (Residence) (Class BX) Subclass 858 visas in December 2016.
"Passionate and committed and but not distinguished enough"
Mr Prabhakaran took the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) of Australia and submitted letters of support from Telmo Languiller MLA, Member for Tarneit, and Robin Scott MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Murray Thompson MP, Member for Sandringham as well as an evidence of support from Ms Tara Rajkumar OAM who called him a real star in the South Asian community with lots of potential.
The tribunal found Mr Prabhakaran to be a passionate, committed and talented artist, who 'has significant potential to develop a national and international reputation' but said the evidence does not satisfy that the applicant had 'an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement' as a painter or musician at the time of application.
The AAT Member Sheridan Lee accepted that judging or assessing the reputation of an artist or musician is inherently quite difficult but concluded Mr Prabhakaran did not qualify the criteria of the visa requirement at the time of application.
It was noted that some of the events and exhibitions had taken place after the visa was applied for and were not on record at the time of application.
The tribunal also noted that the recognition Mr Prabhakaran had received through prizes had been awarded in localised community arts groups, as opposed to the national or international level.
There was also no evidence to indicate that his works were held in any prestigious collections or galleries.
The media coverage mentioned in the appeal targeted the international Indian community and was not in arts-focused news publications or journals.
For these reasons, Mr Prabhakaran did not establish the requisite level of international recognition or exceptional and outstanding achievement and thus the Tribunal affirmed the decisions not to grant him and the dependents the Distinguished Talent (Residence) Class BX visas.