FECCA Executive Committee
Mary Patetsos is a professional Board Director, serving on both National and South Australian Boards with a rare blend of academic qualifications and expertise. Her skills and experience combined with an extensive national network enable her to add significant value to organisations at many levels. In particular, her commitment to achieve positive change drives her ambition. She contends that a strong belief in the worthiness of learning and work have become her key motivator.
Peter Doukas has been Chair of ECCNSW since 2013. Prior to this, he served as secretary for two terms while the organisation undertook its largest change to its constitution since its incorporation. He has worked in the Greek community for over ten years as a member of the Board of the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW. Peter is the Managing Partner of law firm Denison Toyer based in Sydney and has a strong commitment to promoting Australia as a pluralistic, just and open society through the success of multiculturalism.
Hina Durrani was born in Pakistan and came to Australia as an international student to study a Master of Professional Accounting Specialisation. She has previously studied a Master of Public Administration. Hina believes strongly in engaging women and children in higher education. She developed a passion for women’s rights when working with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Her priority is improving the educational opportunities for women and children.
Siddique Panwala originates from India and is a former Human Right Activist, Development Consultant and Legal Trainer. Siddique is associated with Ethnic Community Organisations in Sydney, is a founding member of Australian Multicultural and Settlement Services, a member of NSW Gujarati Samaj and provides pro bono legal and immigration advice. As a Board member of ECC NSW he has represented ECC NSW on various Government and Non-Government organisations committees. Siddique provides interpreters and translators under the business name Universal Interpreters and Translators in Australia. Siddique is Principal Solicitor with Unisaj Legal in Sydney.
Kevin Kadirgamar is a co-founder and former Chair of Multicultural Youth NT (MyNT), and has served on a number of boards including the Australian Youth Forum, NT Council for Human Rights Education, Australia Day Council NT, and the Youth Justice Advisory Council. He was named People of Australia Ambassador for the Australian Multicultural Council in 2012 and 2013, and Australian Young Lawyer of the Year in 2015. Kevin co-founded and chairs the Migration Institute of Australia’s NT Chapter and the Junior Lawyers Network of Lawyers Associated Worldwide. Kevin is a Senior Lawyer at Ward Keller where he practices in migration law.
Suzanne Graham is the CEO of Multicultural Community Council GC Ltd and Member of Australian Institute of Company Directors. Using her training as a registered nurse specialising in disabilities, Suzanne has dedicated her career to business development and strategic growth in the Not for Profit Community Care environment. She is a Stanford University Master Trainer in Chronic Disease Management, has a highly developed understanding of consumer directed care and is a passionate advocate for advancing the aged and disability form agenda. Suzanne seeks to continue developing and expanding services and support for multicultural communities throughout Australia.
Parsuram Sharma-Luital JP is a former refugee from Bhutan who arrived in Australia in 2002. He is the immediate past Hon Secretary of FECCA and a member of the Board of Directors of the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria (ECCV) as well as Convenor of the New and Emerging Communities Policy Committee at ECCV. Parsu served as Chair of the Statelessness Working Group of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APPRN) from 2014-2016. He represented Australian refugee communities at UNHCR NGO Consultations from 2010 to 2017, and founded Help Himalayan Youth Foundation Inc. in 2014. In 2009 Parsu established the Bhutanese Community in Australia Inc. and served as the president until 2012. Parsu is the recipient of Inaugural New Australian of the Year 2014.
Waqas Durrani is a dedicated and committed volunteer who has spent countless hours since his arrival in Australia to organise various events promoting human rights and multicultural events. His passion is youth education, employment and empowerment. He has contributed to an astonishing array of activities not only in his academic life and career, but also in the wider community of Australia by his advocacy for human rights and people coming from CALD and NESB backgrounds.
Marion Lau OAM JP is the Deputy Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) and chairs the Council’s Aged Care Policy Committee. Marion is a Director of Management Consultancy & Technology Services and provides consultancy to aged care services providers. Marion has vast experience in addressing issues on ethnic health, ethnic aged care, and women’s issues. She holds a number of director positions and sits on many boards, committees and references groups that look at issues impacting the health and well-being of older Australians, particularly those from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds. Marion received the Order of Australia Medal for her work with older Australians and a Centenary Medal for services to multiculturalism. She is on the Victorian Honour Roll for Women and a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.
Sandra Elhelw Wright is passionate about empowering ethnic women to create and define their own agendas, challenges and solutions. Sandra is currently working in the ACT Government and has previously worked with migrant and refugee communities in the settlement sector. She is currently undertaking a PhD on domestic violence in Australian Muslim communities. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Inquiry into Australia's Family Law System, and the ACT Multicultural Advisory Council.
Catherine Poutasi is a New Zealand born Samoan who moved to Wollongong in 2013. She is the Director and Owner of Integrity Professionals Limited (IPRO), a business and management consultancy that specialise in organisational and programme reviews, evaluations and management. IPRO’s work includes improving health, education and social outcomes for Pasifika families and communities, and provides organisational development support and training for organisations that support CALD communities. Catherine is on the Management Committee of the Multicultural Communities Council of IIllawarra (MCCI). She is passionate about supporting Pasifika communities in Australia and providing a regional perspective at board and governance level.
Joe Caputo OAM JP was Chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) from 2013-2017. Joe has been involved in advocacy for the rights of minorities throughout his adult life. From 2001 to 2011, he was a member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Joe has served as Councillor and Mayor in the former City of Brunswick and as Councillor and Mayor in the City of Moreland. Joe is an expert in Industrial Relations and holds a Master of Business from RMIT. Joe served as Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) from 2011-2013.
Mithun Alexander is an ambassador for multiculturalism and currently serves on board of many community groups. He was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Council for Multicultural Affairs (MACMA) in 2003-05. He was honoured by the Indian community with an achievement award for his ‘Outstanding Community work’ in recognition of his tireless contributions to the community at the National Multicultural Festival 2013. Mithun has held key positions at various universities and on government consultative bodies in the ACT region. Mithun volunteers at a local radio station in Canberra while working as a Project Manager.
Edwin is passionate about serving the community. He has a multidisciplinary education, including a doctoral degree. He has worked for private and public sectors; in higher education, project management, research and policy. As an adult migrant, Edwin understands the problems faced by CALD people in Australia. He is active in the refugee space, volunteering with Red Cross, Melaleucca Refugee Centre and DASSAN (Darwin Asylum Seeker and Advocacy Network). Edwin has also been volunteering for community groups, not-for-profit organisations and professional associations, often with leadership positions. He serves on the NT division boards of United Nations Association of Australia, DASSAN, Institution of Public Administration Australia, Australian Computer Society and Australia Day Council.
Ramdas Sankaran OAM, is a professional social worker with 35+ year’s senior managerial experience within Commonwealth & State public services and the community service sector in Australia. Since 2002 he has been the CEO of the Multicultural Services Centre of WA. He has extensive experience in public policy development, research, evaluation, advocacy, and lobbying as well as planning, and implementing a wide range of programs and services. Ramdas has previously served 8 years as President of ECCWA and as Deputy Chair of FECCA in that capacity. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian Association of Social Workers.
Miriam L. T. Cocking has over 30 years’ experience working and volunteering in the community sector. She is currently the Team Leader of Access and Equity Team with Seniors Information Service and sits on various Boards/Committees. Her ongoing service to the SA Community is dedicated to CALD communities in the areas of settlement, housing, education, carer’s needs, aged care, health, employment, mental health and women’s issues including domestic violence and overseas qualification. She has experience in leadership, mentoring, networking, facilitation, needs analysis and developing practical workable programs.
Kris Pavlidis is the current Chairperson of Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria and Mayor of the City of Whittlesea. She is an experienced and passionate community advocate for social justice and cultural diversity. She has worked across various Government and non-Government Organisations, primarily in Policy Development, Community Development, Training and Strategic Change to address issues of access and equity. Kris sits on a number of Boards and Committees and has post graduate qualifications in Social Work and Management.
Marta Terracciano JP is the current CEO of Residential Gardens and the Chair of ECCNSW. Marta is member of the Board of Directors for Multicultural Care. She has comprehensive knowledge and understanding of cultural issues in the community. Marta was appointed Commissioner of the Community Relations Commission CRC for six years and the Chairperson of the Advisory Council. She has worked closely with organisations to help them better understand the critical issues in the community, particularly relating to aged care. She is an advocate for the greater good of aged care services, which has been a constant focus throughout her career.
Born in Iraq, Mohammad came to Australia, via Syria, as a refugee at the age of 13 in 2003. Mohammad lived in Iran and Syria and speak Arabic and Farsi. He completed a Bachelor of Software Engineering at the University of Adelaide in 2012.
After University, Mohammad worked as an IT Business Analyst for several years while volunteering for various organisations. In September 2015 he was appointed as the inaugural CEO of Welcome to Australia, an organisation dedicated to cultivating a culture of welcome towards refugees and migrants in our nation.
Mohammad has held positions at FECCA Executive Board, first as the Youth Chair and later as the Hon. Secretary. He is a member of the SBS Community Advisory Committee and the Ad Standards community panel. Mohammad is also the South Australian state lead for the Crescent Institute, a non-partisan professional networking and thought leadership organisation.
In 2017 Mohammad participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), sponsored by the Department of State (US), to share knowledge and strengthen the Aus.-US relations into the future.
Through his refugee journey to Australia, Mohammad has become passionate about the success of Australia’s Multiculturalism. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role with FECCA. Mohammad believes cultural diversity makes us richer as a society and he is passionate about ensuring the voices of new and emerging communities are heard and are represented. Mohammad was awarded the South Australian Governor’s Multicultural Award for Youth Achievement in 2012 and was a finalist in the 2018 SA Young Australian of the Year Awards.
Mary Ann brings to FECCA more than a decade of work leading initiatives that connect policy, research and practice on ageing, gender, financial security, participation, and corporate social responsibility in Singapore and the East and Southeast Asian region.
As the former Assistant Director of the International Longevity Centre Singapore at Tsao Foundation, she has been passionate about evidence-based and ground-up policymaking where women and older persons are active participants of the process. She has co-founded the Regional Learning Network on Women’s Financial Security, a partnership of NGOs and researchers from seven countries in the region and the country-level Singapore Alliance of Women in Ageing. Through her work in the region, she gained valuable hands-on experience understanding the challenges people from diverse backgrounds, especially the women and older persons among them, face in navigating policies and mobilising them to be their own best advocates.
Mary Ann has co-authored academic publications on ethnography and active ageing in multi-ethnic community settings in Singapore. She has a Master in Public Administration degree from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. As FECCA’s Senior Policy Officer, Mary Ann’s key role is to provide policy reviews and solutions on selected issues and areas impacting Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Janecke has extensive experience in issues relating to multiculturalism, settlement and the work of civil society. She is a doctor in Sociology from the Australian National University (ANU). The focus of her research was the settlement experiences of the South Sudanese community in Canberra, Australia. Looking at personal understandings of belonging and recognition, Janecke presented an intimate and insightful thesis addressing people’s own experiences of settling in Australia.
Previously, Janecke has worked with the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in her home country of Norway. Here she was a research coordinator for the Landmine Monitor, an annual report addressing the landmine problem in the world and published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). In her work with the ICBL, Janecke gained extensive experience in working with both government officials and the international civil society in lobbying and promoting for a humanitarian focus of mine clearance operations as well as keeping track of treaty obligations and implementations among signatories to the Mine Ban Convention.
Janecke has broad experience in conducting research in small and predominantly African communities. Her Master’s research focused on communities living with the presence of landmines in the northern areas of Angola in southern Africa. She has also spent time in Angola working as a volunteer on a health project focusing on malaria prevention and access to clean water.
Lauren has a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Anthropology) from the Australian National University. She has experience working across the private, government and not-for-profit sectors with communication and people at the centre of all of her work. Working with the Department of Human Services, Lauren gained insight into the implementation of policy and an understanding of Government structure and processes.
Whilst living in Nairobi, completing an internship with the Gender Equality Unit at UN Habitat, she worked within a globally diverse office to mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment. The time spent discovering the similarities and admiring the differences between herself and her colleagues furthered Lauren's appreciation of diversity.
Lauren has led a local group alongside a national network to campaign on economic and climate justice for women in mining affected communities. Through this experience she has further developed skills in facilitation, communication and group coordination and an understanding in the importance of strong messages informed through community consultation.
Lauren brings her passion for equality and a fair multicultural society as well as her broad experience in working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse background to her position with FECCA.
Shahnoor has a Master of International Relations (Trade and Diplomacy) from Monash University focusing on gender security and Asian-Australian relations. Prior to FECCA, she was working for local government and has broad community engagement experience. While in local government, she helped develop a Council-wide Gender Equity and Prevention of Violence against Women Action Plan and managed advisory committees on women’s safety.
She has serval years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector with local enterprises and international organisations such as Oxfam and Amnesty International. Through her experience, she has developed strong grant management and policy development skills. Shahnoor has also worked as a Research, Policy and Advocacy intern at the International Women’s Development Agency. This work further developed her understanding of gender security and community development.
Born in Pakistan, she is fluent in Urdu and has volunteered extensively with migrant advocacy groups in Melbourne. She volunteered at the MITA detention centre and helped newly released refugees to settle into the community.
Shahnoor brings to FECCA her academic expertise on women's safety and security, her experience in community engagement, and a passion for inclusive and ethical policy-making.
Daniel was born in Zambia. He has a Master of Arts from Oxford University in the UK where he studied languages, and a post-graduate certificate in Education (Teaching and Youth Work). He came to Australia in 1978 and worked as a teacher for some years before moving into the community sector. He worked with Arthritis Victoria where he coordinated the development of a multicultural access strategy. In the 1990s he was involved in the response to HIV/AIDS, including a period as General Manager of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT.
Daniel has joined FECCA after 17 years as a Senior Policy Manager with ACT Health, where he contributed to strategic policy on a range of issues, including reproductive and sexual health, blood and blood products, organ and tissue donation, gene technology, the health impacts of climate change, the social determinants of health, and most recently, on the intersection between health services and the NDIS.
From 2013 he established and led a team within ACT Health set up to improve the organisation’s response to diversity. The initial focus was on consumers and staff from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. The team was then expanded to include work on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and people living with disabilities, noting that these groups are not exclusive and often overlap.
After a considerable time working in government, Daniel is excited about returning to the community sector.
Christina has vast experience in business administration. With a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from Oklahoma City University, she has over 10 years’ experience in media business development. Her involvement in numerous advertising campaigns and events for media such as TV, on-air, print and online research were well-received.
Christina speaks fluent English and Chinese and is capable to converse dialects (Cantonese and Hokkien). She recently obtained a Diploma in Translation and Interpretation (English/Chinese).
As an Office Manager in Singapore, Christina led a distribution team that managed industry-leading brands. She provided support and oversaw the daily operations: budgeting, monitoring sales progress and ensuring co-workers complied with workplace safety. Christina has long admired Australia’s multicultural environment. Coming from a similar multicultural Singapore, she understands the importance of promoting multiculturalism and providing communities a voice to facilitate integration into society.
Her contribution and supportive role with FECCA in overseeing the daily operations and ensuring co-workers’ and stakeholders’ interests are well in place.