Our Team

We are proudly led by people of colour with unique lived-experience of the conditions we advocate for.

Swathi Shanmukhasundaram (she/her)
Co-Founder, National Director

Swathi is a community worker, lawyer, Indian-born migrant and proud Tamil woman living in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Raised by a passionate south-Indian Tamil family, she tirelessly advocates for the promotion of mental health literacy in refugee and migrant communities. She finds ways to invest her own lived experiences, having been knowingly and unknowingly exposed to the complexities of mental illness through a carer and consumer perspective throughout her life, in projects where community and identity are at the heart of everything.

During her time as a Youth Advisor at the Centre for Multicultural Youth, she helped develop a youth mental health outreach program now known as ‘Reverb.’ The program places diverse young speakers with lived-experience of mental illness in high schools and strives to connect young people with clinical and non-clinical mental health supports in their own communities. Swathi has also held numerous community advisory and leadership positions in Melbourne and has contributed to national mental health consultations and research projects.

Swathi fused her love for law, advocacy and community to found The Vermilion Project. She was recognised as a Young Social Pioneer by the Foundation for Young Australians, Create Change Fellow at Democracy in Colour, Global Shaper (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) and is the Victorian State Representative for the Youth Advocacy Network to MYAN Australia.  She currently juggles all of that whilst working in the not-for-profit and legal sectors in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia.

Tori Hobbs (they/them)
Co-Founder, Head of Projects

Tori Hobbs is a Registered Nurse and leads The Vermilion Project from their humble base in Canberra, Australia. They have been working in the healthcare industry since the fresh age of 19.

Alongside trying new recipes on their friends, dancing and buying too many houseplants, Tori is passionate about delivering accessible and mindful healthcare to those in marginalised communities.

Being on both the giving and receiving end of Australia’s healthcare industry, Tori invested their personal and professional lived-experiences in The Vermilion Project. They bring a unique and valuable perspective as a disabled nurse and hope to use this insight to provide support and reassurance to those navigating the complex journey of managing a menstrual health condition in the workplace. As our Head of Projects, Tori works on pretty much everything!

Gaya Shanmukhasundaram (she/her)

Gaya is a Biotechnology graduate and Masters of Teaching student, soon to be educating our future mathematicians and scientists in a high school near you!

A passionate educator and skilled writer with a passion for Korean pop music, she was the Editor-in-chief of the landmark website Seoulbeats and has managed teams of writers to produce critical, engaging and far-reaching content. Gaya applies her sharp editorial skills. analytical mindset and nurturing spirit as an educator to ensure The Vermilion Project delivers accessible and responsive content.