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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.  The Multicultural Development Association began, 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

 

 

Our Executive Team

Kerrin Benson - Chief Executive Officer
Kerrin Benson
Chief Executive Officer
Kerrin Benson has been the CEO of Multicultural Australia since 2004. Under her leadership, Multicultural Australia has grown to become one of Australia’s most respected providers of settlement and support services for refugees, migrants and international students. Since graduating with a bachelor of social work in 1984, Kerrin has worked extensively in the government and non-government sectors, in community development, child protection and multiculturalism. She has extensive advisory experience at all levels of government, including the Brisbane City Council’s Inclusive Brisbane Board, Multicultural Queensland Advisory Council and the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers in Detention. Kerrin’s management philosophy is to focus on making an impact, while inspiring a culture grounded in ethics and values. She believes that anything can be delivered with a good idea, hard work and goodwill.
Rod Wilson - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Manager, People & Systems
Rod Wilson
Chief Financial Officer and Executive Manager, People & Systems
Rod is Multicultural Australia’s CFO and Executive Manager for People and Systems. He has extensive experience as a senior executive working across both state and commonwealth government and across a range of sectors including education, law enforcement, emergency services, tourism, employment and training. He holds a Graduate Certificate in Executive Leadership from the University of Queensland and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has a Bachelor of Business from Queensland University of Technology and is a member of the Institute of Public Accountants. Rod is passionate about working collaboratively to achieve quality community outcomes.
Vanessa Fabre - Executive Manager, Partnerships and Events
Vanessa Fabre
Executive Manager, Partnerships and Events
Vanessa oversees corporate communication, 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.
Leah Percival - Executive Manager, Client Services
Leah Percival
Executive Manager, Client Services
Leah leads Multicultural Australia’s direct services to clients and their communities, overseeing casework, housing, orientation and settlement leadership. Leah joined Multicultural Australia in 2011, establishing Multicultural Australia’s presence in Toowoomba, which has continued to be a prosperous and inclusive region of welcome. Leah has also delivered international development projects in Nauru, providing high level social policy advice to the Nauruan and Australian governments. Leah holds a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from James Cook University. Her vision is to inspire and engage our communities to provide authentic, warm welcomes to newly arrived Queenslanders.
Tim Draper - Executive Manager, Social and Economic Inclusion
Tim Draper
Executive Manager, Social and Economic Inclusion
Tim oversees Multicultural Australia’s social and economic inclusion programs. He joined Multicultural Australia in 2013 with senior management experience across the community, education, youth justice and mental health sectors, including as Chief Operations Officer at Healthy Options Australia. During his tenure with Multicultural Australia, Tim has been the senior manager overseeing our Brisbane-based service delivery to refugees and people seeking asylum. Tim is passionate about making a difference through leading and mentoring high performing teams.
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.

Our Board

Peter Forday - Chair
Peter Forday
Chair
Peter Forday joined the board in 2011 and has held the position of chair since 2016. Peter holds extensive ambassadorial roles within the community including chair of the Police Ethnic Advisory Group, director of Mercy Community Services South East Queensland and adjunct senior research fellow with Griffith University. He also owns and operates a management consultancy specialising in organisational change, stakeholder engagement and leadership.
Giri Sivaraman - Deputy Chair
Giri Sivaraman
Deputy Chair
Giri joined the board in 2018 and was appointed deputy chair in 2019. He 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.
Anh Bui - Director
Anh Bui
Director
Anh joined the board in June 2015. She holds a bachelor of laws, bachelor of business administration and graduate diploma of applied corporate governance. Anh is admitted as a Solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland, is an associate member of CPA Australia and is a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia. She has over 10 years’ experience in the financial services sector and is a risk, governance and compliance specialist.
Fahim Khondaker - Director
Fahim Khondaker
Director
Fahim joined the board in 2015. He is a partner at BDO Australia, a global professional services firm, and is a chartered accountant. Fahim has extensive experience working with charities and community organisations that promote social cohesion and understanding.
Jade Demnar - Director
Jade Demnar
Director
Jade joined the Board in 2018. She is a management consultant in global professional services firm, Accenture, leading change management and innovation initiatives in government clients. She is a member of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation Board and is Head of Curation at TEDx Brisbane.

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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.