People

FECCA Executive Committee

Mary Patetsos
Chairperson

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
Senior Deputy Chairperson

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
Senior Deputy Chairperson

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
Hon Treasurer

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.

Suzanne Graham
Disabilities' Chair

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
New and Emerging Communities Chair

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
Youth Chair/MCoT Chair

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.

Ms Marion Lau OAM JP
Healthy Ageing Chair

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
Women's Chair

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
Rural and Regional Chair

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.

Joseph Caputo OAM JP
Hon President

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
Deputy Chair / ACT MC President

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.

Kevin Kadirgamar
Deputy Chair/MCNT President

Kevin Kadirgamar is the President of the Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory (MCNT). He 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.

Miriam L. T. Cocking
Deputy Chair/MCCSA President

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.

Cr Kris Pavlidis
Deputy Chair/ECCV Chairperson

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
Deputy Chair/ECCNSW Chair

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.

FECCA Staff

Mohammad Al-Khafaji
Acting Chief Executive Officer

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.

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Dr Janecke Wille
Policy and Project Officer

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.

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Lauren Stark
Policy and Project Officer

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.

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Christina Ng
Office manager

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.