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 motivators.

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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.

Mohammad Al-khafaji
Hon Secretary

Mohammad Al-Khafaji was born in Iraq and came to Australia via Syria as a refugee in 2003. He is passionate about changing the national conversation around asylum seekers to a positive one through education and grass roots movements. He is the CEO of Welcome to Australia, an organisation dedicated to welcoming Australia's new arrivals. He serves on a number of national boards, and is passionate about intercultural dialogue and bringing cultures together. Mohammed is dedicated to creating a welcoming Australia and committed to engaging everyday Australians in giving new arrivals a dignified warm welcome.

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

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 a Policy Officer with the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner and the ACT Human Rights Commission. She has worked with migrant and refugee communities in the settlement sector. Sandra’s Master’s degree focused on domestic and family violence in Australian Muslim communities. She has qualifications in Law, International Studies, and Public Administration. She is a member of the ACT Minister’s Multicultural Advisory Council and a Board Member of the ACT Multicultural Council. Sandra works with organisations to design faith-based responses to domestic violence in Sydney.

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.

Peter Doukas
Deputy Chair/ECC NSW Chair

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.

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.

Eddie Micallef
Deputy Chair/ECCV Chair

Eddie Micallef is current Chairperson of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV), the peak policy and advocacy body representing diverse multicultural communities in Victoria. Eddie was previously the Chairperson of ECCV’s Drugs Task Force and Convenor of ECCV’s Health Policy Sub-committee. He served in the Victorian Parliament from 1983-1999 covering Health, Industrial Relations, Work Cover and Multicultural Affairs. Eddie has a background in Occupational Health where he supported policy and programs enabling culturally diverse communities to respond to the drug and alcohol challenge. He is currently a Board Director at Inner South Community Health Service and represents ECCV on the Hepatitis Vic Board.

Ramdas Sankaran OAM
Deputy Chair/ECCWA President

Ramdas Sankaran OAM is a professional social worker with over 35 years of senior managerial experience within Commonwealth & State public services and the community service sector. He is the CEO (since 2002) of the Multicultural Services Centre of WA and has extensive experience in public policy development, research, evaluation, advocacy and lobbying as well as in planning and implementing a range of programs and services. Ramdas has served as President of ECCWA for 10 years. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian Association of Social Workers.

Jafar Taheri
Deputy Chair/MCoT Acting Chair

Jafar Taheri is the Acting Chair of the Multicultural Council of Tasmania. Jafar previously studied and worked in the field of Economic Geology in the USA and in Australia. Jafar also has a degree in counselling and worked as a Lifeline counsellor and crisis support worker for 13 years. Jafar is the former President of the Iranian Australian Community Association of Southern Tasmania and still involved with the group as a representative. He has extensive experience working with people from culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse backgrounds through his work as a counsellor and with the Multicultural Council of Tasmania.

FECCA Staff

Dr Emma Campbell
Director

Emma has hands-on experience of the humanitarian sector, high-level business and academia. She brings to FECCA in-depth knowledge of migration, refugees, multicultural affairs, international and domestic politics and migrant health.

Emma previously worked with the international medical charity, Médecins sans Frontières in Africa and the Middle East on various projects including those focused on HIV/TB, refugees, armed conflict and Ebola. Her other previous roles include Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University’s Korea Institute; Adviser to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition; senior management positions at the Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific Airways; and Researcher at the North Korea Database Centre, a Seoul-based NGO specialising in North Korean human rights and the welfare of North Korean refugees living in South Korea.

Emma has worked or lived in more than 10 countries and territories including Lebanon, Sierra Leone, South Korea, China, India, Swaziland, Turkey and Hong Kong. She speaks Chinese and Korean and has an extensive understanding of issues faced by Australia’s diverse and multicultural communities.

Dr Campbell holds a Bachelors of Law and Chinese from the University of Leeds and a Master’s degree in Political Science from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has a PhD in Political and Social Change from the Australian National University. Emma has published widely on a range of topics including Korean unification, security, migration and humanitarian assistance. Her book A New Nationalism in South Korea: The End of “One Korea”? was published this year by Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Emma grew up in a very culturally diverse community in the Northeast of England and her career has taken her to different places around the world, often to work with people in challenging circumstances. Emma firmly believe in the benefits for all of an inclusive and harmonious multicultural Australia.

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Cristina Giusti
Senior Policy and Project Officer, Ageing and Disability

Cristina Giusti is of Italian background and grew up in Australia where assimilation was a key social policy of the time. Cristina understands first-hand the importance of an inclusive multicultural society where cultural diversity is celebrated and accepted.

Cristina is an aged care professional who has in the last few years been working in various areas of aged care; including policy, advocacy, training and business development, particularly concerning culturally and linguistically diverse communities. She has throughout her time in aged care worked with various CALD ageing communities to inform them of the age care reforms.

Recently, Cristina managed a large community aged care business where she was responsible for leading over 60 staff comprising clinicians, allied health professionals, case managers and carers. Cristina has also had experience in training aged care and health professional staff in the cultural perspectives of ageing.

Cristina has introduced new funded initiatives in ‘for purpose’ organisations. Prior to her experience in aged care, Cristina had a long career in allied health, specifically, Optometry practice and Eye Health consulting.

Cristina holds a Bachelor of International Studies (Dean’s Scholar) with Distinction. She is currently working towards her Master of Public Health. She also holds qualifications in Project Management, Board Governance, Training and Assessment, Ophthalmic Optics and Medical Terminology.

Cristina has a special interest in the history of World War 1.  She has toured and presented on the Gallipoli Peninsula and the Western Front in Belgium and France.  She represented The University of Wollongong at a ceremony at the Menin Gate in Belgium.

Cristina holds an executive position on the committee of the Dante Alighieri Society and is fluent in the Italian language.

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Dr Alia Imtoual
Senior Policy and Project Officer

Alia Imtoual is of Libyan Arab and Anglo Australian background. She has a long career working in diverse communities particularly Muslim communities, Spanish speaking communities, and Indigenous communities. She recently returned to Australia after almost seven years living and working in Chile and Mexico along with her Mexican husband and their two young children. She speaks Spanish (Chilean and Mexican dialects) and taught English as a Foreign Language to business people and professionals throughout Latin America.
Alia holds a First Class Honours in Education (BEd (UP/LS)) from Flinders University and a PhD in Social Science (Gender Studies) from Adelaide University. She worked as a lecturer in the School of Education at Flinders University where she developed a strong research profile in the areas of gender, race and religious minority communities.

She published in rigorously peer-reviewed national and international academic journals such as Australian Feminist Studies, Educational Studies, Australian Journal of Early Childhood and Contemporary Islam. Alia is the co-editor of an international collection of essays titled Religion, Spirituality and the Social Sciences.
Dr Imtoual participated in two cultural exchanges (Malaysia and Indonesia) sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Australia-Malaysia Institute and the Australia-Indonesia Institute. The purpose of these visits was to build cross cultural understanding and relations at a non-governmental level. She sat on the Board of the South Australian Women’s Resource Centre and the Board of the Australia-Malaysia Institute. She has 15 years experience volunteering with migrants and refugees on a range of key issues relating to employment, access to housing, and adjusting to new cultural norms and social contexts.
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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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Esther Kuria
Policy and Project Officer - Disability

Esther Kuria has recent experience working with people with disability across various cultural backgrounds, having worked as a Disability Support Officer. She attained qualifications in Individual Support (Disability) to enable her work in that capacity. She worked with people with disability from diverse cultural backgrounds including Aboriginal backgrounds, where she trained them on skill development and capacity building. She has experience working in the operational disability area, particularly where it intersects with the ageing sector and mental health illness.

Prior to settling in Australia, Esther worked as a lawyer overseas having being admitted as an advocate of the High Court back in her country of origin, Kenya. While an undergraduate student at the University of Nairobi and before admission to the bar, she worked as a legal assistant in the Office of the Ombudsman, a legal aid worker at the Kenya Human Rights Commission and youth worker at Caritas Nairobi where she took part in mediation and reconciliation sessions particularly after the post-election violence that broke out in Kenya in 2007. She was engaged in working with women, children, people from marginalised communities, people with disability and those living in major slums in Nairobi.

Esther holds a Bachelors of Law (LLB) from the University of Nairobi and a Master’s degree in International Economic Law from the University of Canberra. She also has a Diploma in the French Language from Alliance Française. She is currently studying a Diploma in Law at the University of Sydney to be eligible for admission on the roll in 2018.

Her skills and experience working with diverse communities combined with a legal background and understanding of disability rights enables her to add significant value to the work of FECCA.  Her commitment to achieve positive experiences for people with disability steers her motivation.

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Özlem
Policy and Project Officer

Ozlem is a Balkan-Turk who was born in Macedonia and raised in New Zealand before moving to Australia in 1999. She has travelled to over 40 countries and spent a year living and working in Istanbul, Turkey.

Before starting at FECCA, Ozlem spent two months volunteering at a refugee camp in Greece. While there she worked to improve the livelihoods of refugees by undertaking activities in areas such as nutrition, community engagement, logistics, the provision of basic items, and psychosocial support. This experience greatly increased her awareness of the extreme situations faced by people seeking asylum. It also gave her a profound appreciation for the organisations and individuals supporting human rights and the needs of migrants.

Ozlem’s significant volunteer experience reflects a commitment to the principles and ethics of nonviolence, social justice and community-led advocacy. She has worked at an emergency relief centre, a male family violence prevention association, and a child welfare agency. Her ability to communicate effectively with disadvantaged and marginalised individuals who are often also disabled, elderly or come from non-English speaking backgrounds, has equipped her well for the role at FECCA.

Ozlem has also worked in a variety of policy roles within the Australian Public Service. She has contributed to the development, advocacy and implementation of policies and programs in national and international settings.

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Aleksandra Zivkovic
Policy and Project Officer

Aleksandra is of Serbian descent, recently moving to Australia. She has extensive experience in issues relating to human rights, human safety and security, collaborative governance and public policy. Aleksandra is currently completing her Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Canberra and holds a Graduate Certificate in International Development from the same University.

Believing that our diversity is what makes us richer, Aleksandra has always strived in her personal and professional life to promote those values. Learning about other cultures and understanding our differences and fundamental similarities was the main reason behind her motivation to undertake Oriental Studies at the University of Belgrade where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree. She lived in United Arab Emirates and Libya and considers both to be precious experiences that have significantly enriched her life. Also, having had a lived family experience of refugee fleeing and having moved and lived in other countries, Aleksandra has first-hand experience of the migration processes.

Aleksandra spent last 8 years of her career working for Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) working on programs supporting policy implementation and government reform. The majority of that work related to improvement of policies regarding the government response to the needs of the citizenry, both at the local and national level. Through consultations with relevant stakeholders and wider citizenry, Aleksandra worked on reform of policies affecting the rights of national minorities, LGBTI community, crime prevention, youth safety and development, prevention and coordinated response to domestic violence, etc.

Aleksandra brings to FECCA extensive experience in working with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, NGOs, citizenry, minority groups, etc. Having worked at the highest diplomatic and government levels as well as at the grass roots level, such as community and vulnerable groups, she is versed in communicating with the broadest spectrum of stakeholders.

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Beverley Roberts
Executive Assistant/ Office Manager

Beverley has worked primarily in not-for-profit organisations since immigrating to Australia in 2000. Her background includes working in job placement, aged care, education and educational tourism. Prior to joining FECCA, Beverley worked for a local organisation whose focus was on training, upskilling and social inclusion of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

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