Dr Charitha Dissanayake


Degree – Master of Arts (Professional Communication), Master by Research, PhD in Communications

Graduation year – 2005, 2017, 2021

Campus – Melbourne Burwood Campus

Current position – President, 3MDR Radio Station

Charitha shares his pathway to radio broadcasting and how his Higher Degree by Research (HDR) experience helped supercharge his career.

PhD path and career highlights

Charitha immersed himself in the broadcasting world early in his career. After arriving from Sri Lanka, Charitha gained crucial experience as editor in chief at Serendib News Network for almost ten years. This experience built the foundation for Charitha’s passion in media communications, which later guided him to pursue a Master of Arts, Masters by Research and PhD at Deakin University.

In 2005, during his Master of Arts graduation, Charitha listened to a speech by a then Deakin PhD student that would inspire him to undertake a research pathway.

'The urge to apply for a PhD hit me the day I graduated with my first Masters degree at Deakin. I was listening to a speech by a PhD candidate who explained how complex and interesting their Higher Degree by Research experience was, and it pushed me to consider doing research. I really wanted to experience the challenge of facing and fulfilling such a difficult task.'

Having been an international student attending university, Charitha attributes his success to the support of the Deakin community who encouraged him along the way.

'As an international student, I encountered a number of challenges when completing my Master of Arts. If not for the support and encouragement of Deakin staff I would have stopped prior to completing,' says Charitha.

Charitha began his Deakin studies at a time when media writing and radio presenting was experiencing rapid change. During his research degree, Charitha developed a new highly innovative radio program to empower Australian ethnic audiences. The program gained insight from first- and second-generation migrants on the gaps in contemporary broadcasting practises and what could be changed to meet their interests and needs.

While Charitha’s journey has led him to a career in broadcasting, he reflects that before he enrolled as a PhD candidate, he first asked himself a crucial question:

'I asked myself why do I need to do this research degree and how is it essential in my life? Then I came to the realisation that professional planning and organisation are very important for a research degree, as many stakeholders are involved while conducting the research, and these are crucial skills I use now in my broadcasting job.'

Studying at Deakin assisted Charitha to reimagine his career in radio broadcasting and led him to become President of 3MDR Radio Station, a community radio station based east of Melbourne which is very rare for a person from a non-English speaking background to be appointed to such position in community broadcasting in Australia. In this role, Charitha leads a radio station management, and liaises with funding authorities and the governing bodies.

Now more than ever, with the challenges COVID-19 has presented to the broadcasting industry, Charitha is motivated to share his knowledge post-PhD with diverse audiences.

'Community broadcasters are driven to connect with their listeners to demystify myths or misleading facts in relation to the pandemic. Importantly, our station does so in several languages to effectively communicate with a wide range of ethnic groups. This important work will help us to emerge from the pandemic a stronger society.'

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