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From a Brisbane backyard to one of Queensland’s most respected multicultural agencies. Multicultural Australia has been shaping a better future for all Queenslanders for over 20 years.

 “We did it in a backyard, with a clothes’ line in the background. And we did it without any possessions. We didn’t have any money, we didn’t have a place and we didn’t have any workers. And isn’t that reflective of a lot of our clientele! Many come here without anything except a dream to begin again.”

Gail Hyslop – Multicultural Australia founding member

In 1997 a group of concerned Queenslanders met in an unassuming Brisbane backyard, in the shadow of an Australian icon, the hill hoist, to discuss the future of Queensland’s multicultural sector after the defunding of the Brisbane Migrant Resource Centre.

Dreaming together of a Queensland where everyone felt welcome and included, they committed to start a new organisation to support new Queenslanders.  In 1998, the Multicultural Development Association became incorporated to deliver essential migrant services, advocate for multiculturalism and build a strong future for all Queenslanders.

21 years and one small name change later, Multicultural Australia provides welcome and support to more than 5000 newly arrived Queenslanders every year, including refugees, migrants, international students and people seeking asylum.

Our commitment to our original vision is as strong as ever. We are dedicated to building a welcoming Queensland where all new Queenslanders have the opportunity to fully contribute to and participate in a multicultural society.

 

Read our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan

Read the Multicultural Australia Way document

 

 

Our Executive Team

Christine Castley - Chief Executive Officer
Christine Castley
Chief Executive Officer
Christine is an experienced senior executive leader, with substantial expertise in organisational transformation and change management, strategic governance, project management, policy, community engagement, operations and service delivery.  She was previously Deputy Director-General in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Housing and Public Works.  Christine is a passionate advocate for equal access to justice and services for everyone regardless of their gender, beliefs or circumstances, and to doing everything possible to help the most disadvantaged people in our community, including refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, to live in safety and to go about their lives free from danger or harm.
Christina Skoien - Company Secretary
Christina Skoien
Company Secretary
Christina oversees Multicultural Australia’s corporate governance and manages compliance, quality and risk management. She joined Multicultural Australia in 2015 with extensive state government experience in the areas of women’s policy, seniors programs and homelessness. Christina has completed a Graduate Diploma in Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia. She is a passionate advocate for gender equality, particularly for refugee and migrant women and girls.
Vanessa Fabre - Executive Manager, Partnerships and Events
Vanessa Fabre
Executive Manager, Partnerships and Events
Vanessa oversees major events and strategic partnerships for Multicultural Australia. She has over 20 years’ experience in community and government sectors, joining Multicultural Australia in 2015. She holds a Master of Health Science, Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Health) and Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion. Vanessa’s vision is a community that collaborates to make Queensland a welcoming and inclusive place to live work and play.
Susanne Behrendt - Chief Operating Officer
Susanne Behrendt
Chief Operating Officer
Susanne joined Multicultural Australia’s Executive Leadership Team in the position of Chief Operating Officer in August 2021. Prior to joining Multicultural Australia, Susanne was the General Manager of Operations and Company Secretary for the Institute of Managers and Leaders, based in Brisbane. Prior to this, Susanne was the Chief Financial Officer at the Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Berghofer Medical Research Institute. With over 10 years of experience in senior management roles in the not-for-profit sector and 7 years with accounting firm KPMG across both Australia and Germany, Susanne brings a high degree of excellence and deep experience in business operations. Susanne holds a Bachelor of European Business (First Class Honour) and a Masters of Science in Business/Finance. With a keen interest in employing technology to address business requirements, Susanne is well placed to progress Multicultural Australia’s Strategic Pillars and elevate the operations of the organisation.
Jason Olsson-Seeto - Chief Development Officer
Jason Olsson-Seeto
Chief Development Officer
Jason joined Multicultural Australia as Chief Development Officer in September 2021.  Prior to joining Multicultural Australia, Jason was the General Manager of Membership and Engagement for the Queensland Law Society, ensuring community access to law services and access to justice, while engaging with regional Queensland to support the delivery of professional development, wellness programs, services and events. As the co-founder of Vocalise, a boutique outsourced social media engagement agency servicing high profile, Tier 1 clients, Jason brings valuable skillsets in communications and media engagement to Multicultural Australia.  This experience, combined with extensive experience in Marketing, Communications and Engagement places Jason well to progress many of Multicultural Australia’s Strategic Pillars. Jason is a passionate advocate for Queensland's multicultural communities and is deeply committed to building a fair and inclusive state for every Queenslander. 
Rose Dash - Chief Client Officer
Rose Dash
Chief Client Officer
Rose Dash is the Chief Client Officer at Multicultural Australia. Rose has a Bachelor of Social Work and a Graduate Certificate in Business, Philanthropy and Non-profit studies, and has been working in the refugee and multicultural sector in Queensland and internationally in client service delivery, torture and trauma services, and community development for over 10 years. With a highly demonstrated history of working holistically and collaboratively with diverse communities, and complex, vulnerable, resilient individuals and families. Rose is experienced in developing organisational strategies and turning them into achievable operational plans and modelling for direct service delivery and community development. She is passionate about leading teams in creating impact for new arrivals through empowerment, opportunity generation, and building safe, inclusive and welcoming communities in Australia.

Our Board

Giri Sivaraman - Chair
Giri Sivaraman
Chair
Giri joined the board in 2018 and was appointed as Chair of the Board in 2021. Giri is a principal and head of Maurice Blackburn’s Queensland employment law department. He regularly advises trade unions and non-government organisations on governance, has acted for refugees in pro bono matters, and ran the firm’s pro bono scheme for underpaid 7-Eleven workers. Giri is a member of the Queensland Multicultural Advisory Council.
Jade Demnar - Deputy Chair
Jade Demnar
Deputy Chair
Jade joined the Board in 2018 and was appointed as Deputy Chair of the Board in 2021. Jade is a member of the senior executive service in the Federal Government and previously spent many years as a management consultant in global professional services firm, Accenture. Jade is a member of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation Board.
Peter Forday - Director
Peter Forday
Director
Peter Forday joined the Board in 2011 and held the position of Chair from 2016 to 2021. He owns and operates a management consultancy specialising in organisational change, stakeholder engagement and leadership. Peter holds a number of other community leadership roles, including being Chair of Welcome Sports, the Police Ethnic Advisory Group, and the Cohesive Communities Coalition. Peter is also a Director of Mercy Community Services South East Queensland and Mercy Aged Care Central Queensland.   
Fahim Khondaker - Director
Fahim Khondaker
Director
Fahim joined the board in 2015 and chairs our Audit and Risk Committee. He is a data analytics & insights partner at BDO and was an Australian Financial Review BOSS Young Executive of the Year for 2021. Fahim has extensive experience working with charities and other organisations which aim to have a positive societal impact.
Milly Darby - Board Observer
Milly Darby
Board Observer
Milly is a Senior Associate at Wendy Brooks & Partners and has background in marketing, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, and business development. Milly is a committee member for Arts Nexus and forum member for Queensland Government, FNQ Regional Community Forum. She sits on Dancenorth Australia’s Board and is a member of the Fundraising Institute of Australia and Philanthropy Australia. Milly has joined the Multicultural Australia Board in the position of Board Observer. The observership role provides an opportunity to gain Board experience and mentorship for a period of 12 months.
Ed Box Director
Ed Box Director
Ed is the General Manager of Retail Distribution with Bank of Queensland and brings more than 30 years’ experience in financial services and a proven track record in building high performing businesses to the Board. Ed is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council and Chairs the Multicultural Council for the Group.
Jessica Gallagher Director
Jessica Gallagher Director
Jessica is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship) at The University of Queensland. She brings extensive experience in strategy development, delivery of innovative engagement programs, and building highly effective global partnerships across sectors to the Board. Jessica is also a Director on the Board of the Kokoda Track Foundation, an organisation working to improve the lives and futures of Papua New Guineans.

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Acknowledgement of country
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which we meet, work and live and recognise that this land has always been and always will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land.

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Multicultural Australia respects and values Australia’s First Nation peoples’ enormous resilience, courage, determination and often unrecognized contributions to this country’s social and economic development. We walk together in solidarity in the shared pain of the past and with shared hope for the future.