Conference Advisory Committee

An image of Yamamah Agha

Yamamah Agha

General Manager Newcomers, Settlement and Integration
Settlement Services International (SSI)

Yamamah Agha provides strategic leadership for all settlement programs at not-for-profit organisation Settlement Services International (SSI) which supports newcomers and other vulnerable Australians to prosper.

With over 20 years’ experience assisting new arrivals to settle in Australia, Yamamah has a strong passion for delivering social justice to refugees and vulnerable groups in need. She has a particular interest in women's rights and supporting and empowering refugee women and their families to reach their potential.

In 2018 Yamamah was the UNHCR-NGO Consultations Rapporteur and was recognised for her positive impact in Australias social sector, as winner of the Impact 25 awards.

An image of Abulla Agwa

Abulla Agwa

NSW Health

My  country of origin is Ethiopian. I was   persecuted and  imprisoned  for more than five years in Ethiopian, I  fled to Kenya for safety and  came to Australia in 2004 under humanitarian program. Here in Australia,  I worked  in Community sector with refugees and humanitarian entrants for more than 14 years and currently I am  working  for  WSLHD for three years. In addition, I am a chair of the Ethiopian Multicultural Action for Human rights and member of Blacktown Local Government Multicultural Advisory Committee.

Academic Achievements, I have:

  • Master of Social Science (child and youth studies) from WSU.
  • Graduate diploma in Family dispute resolution from Australian Institute for Relationship Studies.
  • Diploma in teaching history from overseas.
  • I received several acknowledgements for supporting and volunteering works to   give back to the Australian communities. For example:
  • Professional Excellence Award community- in recognition of my outstanding performance as an African in NSW 2017
  • Adjunct fellow with the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, 2016.
  • The first African in NSW to be awarded with Hall of Fame, ZEST Award, 2016.
  • The first African in NSW to be awarded with Pride of Australian Medal, Category "Fair Go", 2015.
  • Professional Excellence Award Social Worker, 2015.
  • Champion African Australian, 2012

An image of Kamalle Dabboussy

Kamalle Dabboussy

Western Sydney MRC

I have more than 39 years of experience working in migrant and refugee settlement support, international humanitarian aid, and with culturally and linguistically diverse youth.

I have worked actively and strategically across civil and political spheres to further diverse communities' participation and successful settlement. I have promoted participation and inclusion with numerous local communities and services, including Sydney's Muslim communities, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, and Parliamentary Ministers and MPs.

For the past 18 years, I have been Manager and CEO at Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre, leading the service and programs to support our local community alongside partnerships and collaborations with other agencies. I have worked to positively impact local service delivery, which also translates to an impact on policy at a state and federal level.

I have worked and supported many civil society organisations, including being Chair of SSI between 2012-2016, currently on the board of Western Sydney Community Forum, former treasurer of South West Legal Centre, former Chair of Muslim Aid Australia and numerous other organisations. My commitment to growth and, more importantly, social impact to sustained improvement to the lives of those we work with has been successful in these structures.

I continue to work in areas I feel passionate about and find successful outcomes for complex issues. I aim to use my knowledge, networks and standing to build resilience in families and communities and to help give a voice to the voiceless and vulnerable.

An image of Rima Elhage

Rima Elhage

NSW Police Force

Rima Elhage has been with the NSW Police Force (NSWPF)  for 14 years. She was a primary school teacher prior to changing career paths. She began her career with NSWPF as a Multicultural Community Liaison Officer (MCLO) at the Wollongong Police Area Command. Rima remained a MCLO for ten years before becoming the State MCLO Coordinator in 2019. She proudly leads a team of 33 MCLOS across NSW who are an integral part in the NSWPF commitment and response to CALD communities. The MCLO team boast a range of awards for their exceptional frontline work. They were recently recognised for their response during COVID by receiving the Premiers Local Government Business Excellence Award in 2022.

Rima has been recognised for her work by receiving an Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award 2018 and the IMB Community Hero 2019 for projects she has delivered.

An image of Nikki Flambouras

Nikki Flambouras

Multicultural NSW

Gratefully working on the land of the Gadigal people, Nickie has been managing the Community Engagement Team at Multicultural NSW since 2019. In the last three years, her focus has been on introducing new and innovative ways of engaging with community not only in metro Sydney but across Regional NSW. During her employment with Multicultural NSW, Nickie’s attention has been on leading purposeful engagement and ensuring the voice of community is represented across government policy and decision making. In her previous life, Nickie worked in a similar role for the Australian Football League using sports as the vehicle for social inclusion.  In her spare time, Nickie supports a documentary production studio called Think Films to plan and deliver social impact campaigns. 

An image of Mary Karras

Mary Karras

Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW

Mary Karras is a passionate believer in the principles of multiculturalism. Throughout her career she has been instrumental in ensuring that multicultural policies, programs and services are respected and valued in culturally, religiously and linguistically diverse communities across Sydney.

In her current role as Chief Executive Officer of the Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW Mary works closely with the Board of Management and the Members’ Forum to strengthen its mission and vision through her strategic thinking, executive leadership and operational management.

Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Psychology and Sociology and a Post Graduate Degree in Psychology from Macquarie University, a Post Graduate Diploma in TESOL from University of Technology, a Master of Education from the Australian Catholic University and an Accreditation in Leadership and Management from Leadership and Management Australia. Both professionally and personally Mary bring a wealth of learnings and experiences in working with diverse communities.

Mary sits on numerous Boards, Advisory Panels and Committees that contribute to the broader agenda of enhancing social cohesion and community harmony.  Recently she was profiled as advocate of anti-racism , multiculturalism and cultural diversity by the Human Rights Commission.

An image of Chris Lacey

Chris Lacey

Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra

Chris Lacey is the Chief Executive Officer and Company Secretary of MCCI. Building on prior executive roles in non-profit community housing, family services and disability in the Illawarra & South West Sydney, and following senior roles in the NSW Public Service, Chris has led the MCCI team through a period of growth and change since mid-2016. With a passion for social justice and supporting the non-profit sector to rise to the challenges of meeting the needs of vulnerable communities, Chris is also the Chairperson and non-executive director of Family Services Australia, a non-profit charity focussed on helping children, young people and families, with services throughout the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Northern-NSW and SE Qld.

An image of Mersaline Monteiro

Mersaline Monteiro


I am Mersaline Monteiro, AMEP SEE Regional Coordinator at TAFE NSW in Sydney South- West. I started my journey in Australia as TAFE teacher and have been a Head Teacher, Community Engagement Coordinator and now the AMEP SEE Coordinator. As a proud employee of TAFE NSW, I strive to abide by our core Values of placing Customer first, Collaboration, working with Integrity and aiming at Excellence in what I do for the benefit of our vulnerable clients who come from different countries. I have learnt a lot about all the different cultures and gained immense pleasure in supporting them in their learning journey and enhancing this support by collaborating with both internal and external stakeholders with honesty and loyalty through my words, actions and beliefs.

An image of Shama Pande

Shama Pande

CORE Community Services

Shama Pande is a Service Manager at CORE Community Services with over a decade experience in community development and engagement. She joined CORE in 2011 and has held management role since 2017. Prior to this role, she worked in Foreign Aid Development Assistance in Nepal. Shama has a Master of social work from University of Sydney, Master of Communication and Journalism from College of Journalism and Mass communication, Nepal. She is currently undertaking Bachelor of Law from University of New England. In her current role, she manages various state and federal funding such as Settlement Services, Domestic and Family Violence Services, Neighbourhood Centre and the Hub etc.  Shama is very passionate about social justice, equity and inclusion and works with vulnerable communities to build capacity to overcome inequality and complex social problem. 

Lyn Payne

Legal Aid NSW
Senior Solicitor, Refugee Service at Legal Aid NSW

An image of Mia Zahra

Mia Zahra

Anti-Discrimination NSW

Mia Zahra is the Executive Manager at Anti-Discrimination NSW. She has a genuine passion to assist vulnerable communities and extensive experience in the public service. Before joining Anti-Discrimination NSW, Mia was at Legal Aid NSW where she managed the Community Legal Centre Program. Prior to this she held various specialist policy development, program management and stakeholder engagement roles in the NSW public service, including at the NSW Department of Family & Community Services, NSW Premier's Department and the NSW Attorney General's Department. She has also worked at the South Australian Attorney General's Department including at Multicultural SA and the Equal Opportunity Commission of SA.

Mia is a former Chairperson and Board member of South West Sydney Legal Service. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Welfare Studies) and an Executive Master of Public Administration from the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Last updated:

10 Nov 2022

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