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.

Cr Kris Pavlidis
Senior Deputy Chairperson

Kris Pavlidis 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.

Hina Durrani
Senior Deputy Chairperson - Women

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.

Waqas Durrani
Hon Treasurer

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.

Kevin Kadirgamar
Hon Secretary

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.

Jill Morgan
Women's Chair

Jill Morgan AM has worked extensively in multicultural and indigenous arts in Australia for over the past 25 years. She is a  current Board member of  the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria. She was recently the acting Executive Officer of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria and is the former Chief Executive Officer of Multicultural Arts Victoria and Executive Director of Kulcha, Multicultural Arts of Western Australia. She is an active cultural and community development worker and leader in multiculturalism and the arts.  Jill has contributed significantly to cultural policy development and strategies locally and nationally to promote diversity, human rights and inclusion. She is committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all Australians, including newly emerged individuals and communities and the right of all Australians to express and share their cultural heritage through the arts.

Ms Marion Lau OAM JP
Healthy Ageing Chair

Marion Lau OAM JP is the Secretary 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.

Maker Mayek
New and Emerging Communities Chair

Maker Mayek is  a lawyer based in Melbourne. He is the principal solicitor at Mayek legal, Barristers & Solicitors. Maker is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and High Court of Australia. Maker holds a Bachelor of Arts/ Law (Canberra), Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (ANU), Master of Laws (UNSW) and a Master of Diplomacy and Trade (Monash).  He is published in journals such as Journal of Developing Societies, Journal of Human Rights in Commonwealth and is a regular media commentator on human rights, equal opportunity and discrimination issues in Victoria and in Australia.

Angela Ljubic
Rural & Regional Chair

Angela Ljubic is a Team Leader at Grand Pacific Health, Member of Australian Psychological Society, on the management committee of Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra. Using her training as a registered Psychologist specializing in cross cultural psychology, Angela has dedicated her career to providing newly arrived people access to services and equity within systems. She is a University of Wollongong Masters trained Psychologist, has a highly developed understanding of consumer directed care and is a passionate advocate for advancing human rights agenda. Angela seeks to continue developing support at a national level for multicultural communities throughout Australia.

Rida Aleem Khan
Youth Chair

Rida Aleem Khan currently works at Wellsprings for Women in Melbourne. She identifies as a multilingual "third culture kid" who was born in Pakistan, lived in Japan in elementary years yet did high school in rural Victoria. Rida started her youth leadership in programs like Nexus Horsham to prevent drug and alcohol abuse within rural youth. Rida is an alumni of Doxa Youth Foundation (2012), she has been awarded Ancora Imparo Monash vice-chancellor award (2014), followed by being part of Multicultural Youth Network (MYN) under former Minister of Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott (2015-2017). She was  the Youth Ambassador at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (2018), a youth advisor at Monash City Council's MYPRG, and is also part of Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria's (ECCV) Intercultural Youth Advocacy Leadership (IYAL) and on the youth advisory committee of Mental Health Foundation Australia (2019). After years of hard work in youth leadership, Rida has been awarded Sir John Monash Youth Leadership High Commendation. She is a participant writer of an anthology titled "Living and Loving in Diversity" published by Australian GLBT+ Multicultural Commission."

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.

Dr Edwin Joseph JP
Deputy Chair/MCNT President

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.

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.

Peter Doukas
Deputy Chair/ECCNSW 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.

Alton Budd
Deputy Chair/ECCQ Chair

Alton is a Quantity Surveyor and Construction Manager/Administrator of 30 years, now retired. Alton serves as the President of the Gateway Community Group at Cannon Hill and founded the Australian South Sea Islander Research Association. Alton also founded the FOP Australia Ltd, in 2015 to help to raise funds for medical research and patient support for Australians living with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP). He founded the Hope for Jarvis Association Inc in 2018, to raise awareness of FOP. Alton is also a past Board Member of the Mater Hospital Ethics Committee.

Suresh Rajan
Disabilities Chair/ECCWA President
Andrew Ng
Deputy Chair/ACT MC President
Datta Mahambrey
Deputy Chair/MCOT

FECCA Staff

Mohammad Al-Khafaji
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 speaks 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.

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.

Daniel Coase
Senior Advisor

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.

Contact Daniel

Mary Ann Geronimo
Director of Policy - Health & Ageing

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.

Contact Mary Ann

Alexandra Raphael
Director of Policy & Advocacy

Alexandra has over a decade of experience working alongside refugees and migrants in Australia and internationally. She has worked across a broad range of areas including research, policy development, protection programming, government advocacy and grassroots mobilisation.

For the past seven years, Alexandra has worked internationally on refugee and migrant humanitarian responses with Oxfam in Greece and the UNHCR in Bangladesh. She led diverse teams to design and implement complex programmes that have addressed issues such as access to basic services, sexual and gender-based violence, cohesion with host communities, and access to justice.

Within this work, Alexandra has developed a strong interest and expertise in community engagement and has created consultation, complaint and feedback frameworks that are innovative, robust, and effective. She has especially prioritised the input of women and other marginalised groups, and successfully worked alongside them to offer support and resources for them to advocate for their own rights and issues.

Before moving overseas, Alexandra spent five years working with Amnesty International Australia working on projects to increase the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia and the Asia Pacific. She developed and led campaigns that combined community organising with research and policy development, media engagement and government advocacy.

Alexandra’s strong professional commitment to safe and dignified migration, multiculturalism, and inclusion, originated in her own family’s migration experience to Australia from Lebanon and Italy.

Alexandra holds a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of Adelaide.

Contact Alexandra

Dr Janecke Wille
Senior Research & Policy 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.

Contact Janecke

Lauren Stark
Senior Policy & Project Officer

Lauren has experience working across the private, government and not-for-profit sectors with people at the centre of all of her work.

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.

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Anthropology) from the Australian National University.

Contact Lauren

Dr Michael He
Policy & Project Officer

Dr Michael He was born and brought up in a small regional Chinese village. His family had no electricity, gas, or clean water until he was 14. With limited capacity, Michael taught himself English while he was feeding the cattle and collecting their manure. 

At 25 Michael came to Australia to professionally learn English and after five years of intensive studies, he obtained his PhD in Sociology from the University of Sydney in 2011. He then worked for Lowy Institute, Laos Government, the World Bank and several Chinese universities. He has taught over 5000 students on subjects related to citizenship, human rights and social cohesion; and helped more than 200 Laos government officials improve their internal control capabilities. In 2016, Palgrave Macmillan (a world-renowned research, collections and publishing organisation) published Michael’s sole-authored monograph on governance and social change.

Michael was a successful recipient of the competitive Endeavour Scholarships, a program contributing to Australia’s standing as a world leader. From 2016, Michael proudly worked as Multicultural and Diversity Policy Officer (ACT Health Directorate), Senior Policy Officer of Inclusion (ACT Community Services Directorate) and Research Analyst (Skills Canberra). His research focuses on culturally and linguistically diverse background people, diversity program training, working with interpreters, and diaspora communities in Australia.  

Michael is excited and humbled to join FECCA and he brings to FECCA his 12 years of skills, knowledge, and experience in community engagement, social cohesion, human resilience, and workforce inclusion. 

Contact Michael

Dr Romy Listo
Policy & Project Officer

Dr Romy Listo comes to FECCA from over six years of experience in the community sector in the intersections of health and gender. Most recently she has worked in policy advocacy for the Equality Rights Alliance, covering areas including women’s health rights, the care sector, and gendered policy development. She has previously worked and volunteered in the area of sexual and reproductive health and education, including with migrant and refugee communities, young LGBTIQ+ people, young people with disability, and young women.

Alongside this work, Romy has completed a PhD in gender studies and environmental sociology at The University of Queensland. Her research explored women’s collective organising around access to energy and electricity in South Africa using an approach grounded in narrative practice and community development.

In addition, Romy holds a Bachelor of International Studies and Graduate Certificate in Community Development. Her commitment to a more inclusive multicultural Australia began at an early age and originated from her own family’s migration experience from Germany and Italy to Australia. She is interested in the intersectionalities of cultural and linguistic diversity, gender, health and care work.

Contact Romy

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.