Our Staff

Carla Wilshire OAM

Carla Wilshire OAM

Chief Executive Officer

Carla is the founding CEO of SPG. She has a background in public policy development and impact strategy, corporate governance, and tertiary research. Before establishing SPG, Carla worked in senior roles in the public service and as an advisor to the Government, principally in migration and settlement, including as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. She also held academic and consulting positions in Australia and abroad. Carla is the Deputy Chair of Football Australia and a Board Director of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation. She is the co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Migrant and Refugee Health Partnership and the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity, as well as a member of the Council of Harmony Alliance, the national migrant and refugee women's alliance.

Gulnara Abbasova

Gulnara Abbasova

Head of Strategy

Gulnara has a significant track record in civil society leadership and strategy across social policy, gender equality and human rights nationally and internationally. In addition to her strategy-focused role with SPG, Gulnara serves as Executive Officer of the Migrant and Refugee Health Partnership and Harmony Alliance. Previously, Gulnara was executive director of the national peak body representing Australia's migrant and refugee communities and led programs on the rights and issues of Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities at two United Nations agencies. She also worked extensively in international human rights advocacy. Gulnara serves on several boards and committees focusing on women's leadership and safety, and public health.

Gail Ker OAM

Special Advisor

Gail is the Special Advisor with The Social Policy Group. For over 20 years, Gail Ker OAM’s vast industry experience and arguably unrivalled expertise in the Australian multicultural, humanitarian and community sectors has seen her change countless lives for the better. A nationally lauded and award winning visionary, Gail was formerly the CEO of Access Community Services Ltd where she lead in creating social, cultural and economic experiences and opportunities that transformed the lives of individuals and communities. Renowned for her expertise in innovative service solutions, Gail is a recognised thought leader in needs-based community planning, innovative business models, social cohesion, strategic partnerships, employment pathways, funding opportunities and strategic direction.

Brad Chilcott

Special Adviser

Brad is the former Executive Director of White Ribbon Australia, a movement to end men’s violence against women and advance gender equality, leading the movement through the 2020 relaunch and transformational rebuild under the custodianship of Communicare. He is the founder of Welcoming Australia, a national movement cultivating a culture of welcome for people seeking asylum, refugees, and other new arrivals to Australia. He is now Co-Chair of the Advisory Panel and a Board Director. Brad has worked for over a decade to create diverse, collaborative stakeholder coalitions with the ability to drive systemic change and achieve meaningful outcomes for vulnerable people in a range of roles and sectors, including migration, multiculturalism, settlement, Australian Aid, education, mental health, social housing, LGBTIQ+ inclusion and inter-faith engagement. He has a reputation for taking on difficult issues and delivering outcomes through a partnership approach with people with lived experience, practitioners, experts, and decision-makers. In addition to these advocacy roles, Brad has worked as a Ministerial Adviser at the State and Federal levels and coordinates Australian support for a school for stateless children and a kinship foster program for Khmer children in Cambodia. Brad writes regularly for The Guardian.

Daniel Donahoo

Special Advisor - Digital

Daniel Donahoo has worked for 20 years at the intersection of policy, narrative and technology. He is the author of two books, Idolising Children (UNSW Press) and Adproofing Your Kids (Finch), a former Research Fellow at public policy think tank OzProspect and worked across government, education and not-for-profit sectors. Daniel's work is deeply participatory and driven by rights-based frameworks and this has resulted in a significant amount of work putting policy into practice. Daniel has designed alternate reality games to teach the foundation of the Chinese language, produced apps to introduce primary school students to the Bard, designed research programs to help migrant communities use technology to better manage chronic disease and advised and worked with education and policy teams at companies like LEGO, Google, Disney and Apple. Daniel brings two decades of practice-based research, innovative thinking and person-centred approaches to his work with the Social Policy Group.

Ine Beerens

Senior Manager – Digital

Ine focuses on supporting migrant and refugee communities in Australia through developing multilingual digital solutions and promoting access to social infrastructure that supports community resilience and social cohesion. Previously, she has worked at UNHCR and in the diplomatic space across multiple countries, including Australia. Ine has a keen interest in sports, especially its potential to unite and strengthen communities and is the president of the ANU Australian Football Club. Ine holds a Master of Arts in History (2016) from the University of Ghent and a Master in International Relations and Diplomacy (2019) from the University of Antwerp.

Anna Rolandsen

Senior Manager – Settlement

Anna is a passionate advocate for settlement, having spent over ten years in the sector across various roles. Anna manages the the SPG-facilitated Community of Practice for the organisations delivering the Australian Government’s Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program. Anna also facilitates the administration of the Afghan-Australian Community and Settlement Support grant program. Previously, Anna was a manager at Access Community Services, working across settlement programs, including SETS. Before that, she worked in the Humanitarian Settlement Program—and earlier the Humanitarian Settlement Services program—developing resources, delivering orientation, and coordinating education enrolments for new arrivals. Anna started her career as a teacher and has a background in pedagogy, adult education, and development studies, including teaching the Deaf in schools and English as a Second Language programs. Anna’s overseas development experience, including in Uganda and Cambodia, focused on gender empowerment and support for trafficked or exploited young girls. A supporter of strength-based practice, Anna brings to the role strong teaching and capacity building credentials. Anna is based in Brisbane.

Alicia Weiderman

Senior Policy Advisor

Alicia has over 20 years of experience working in the Government, private and community sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom in social policy design, implementation, and program management. She has worked within the Government and as a consultant. She holds a Bachelor of Business (University of Queensland). Alicia is passionate about creating opportunities for Indigenous Australians and supporting women in leadership roles. She also has a particular interest in the role of employment in empowering individuals and communities, particularly for people in marginalised communities. She oversees the work of the Centre of Settlement Innovation and works across other SPG projects. She also founded and is a chair of Women in Employment Services. This membership-based organisation promotes women's connection and professional development in the employment and training sectors. Alicia is based in Brisbane.

Tarina Rubis

Manager – Health and Mental Health

Tarina manages the SPG’s health and mental health portfolios, aiming to improve health and mental health system access for migrant and refugee communities. This involves providing Secretariat support to the Migrant and Refugee Health Partnership and engaging with stakeholders across the health and community sector, both nationally and internationally. Tarina’s career has focused on supporting the rights and wellbeing of migrants and refugees. She has worked across federal and local government and in the non government sector in the fields of multilateral engagement, humanitarian and protection response to displacement and in community capacity building. Tarina holds a Master of Development Studies in Refugee and Forced Migration from the University of New South Wales. Based in Sydney, she has worked in Jordan and Thailand as well as Geneva and Canberra.

Daisy Kolt

Manager - Justice

Daisy manages the Justice portfolio, which includes working with, and providing Secretariat support to, the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity and the Cultural Diversity Justice Network. Daisy also works across other SPG policy areas, such as digital wellbeing. Daisy has a strong background in social policy, the community legal sector, and community development. Before her role at SPG, Daisy worked at the Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet, Northern Territory Government, including in the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. She has also worked as a volunteer solicitor at several community legal centres. She is passionate about human rights law and social justice. Daisy holds a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts (Development Studies and International Relations), and Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences (Hons) from the University of New South Wales and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Australian National University. She is a solicitor admitted by the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Monica Rivas

Manager - Training

Monica’s work is to develop and deliver training programs that build the capacity and skills of participants. She has been working in the community services sector for the past 11 years, specifically with CALD communities. With a master’s degree in social work, and a background in TESOL and Training and Assessment, Monica has been able to utilise her expertise in working with refugees and migrants to design and develop culturally responsive training programs. Monica is passionate about delivering training programs that are self-reflective, innovative, and practical. Arriving in Australia as a refugee, Monica is interested in promoting and advocating for refugees through her training. Monica is based in Brisbane.

Nuria Alarcón Lopez

Senior Manager - Gender

Nuria supports the work of Harmony Alliance and facilitates SPG’s work to support the COVID-19 Vaccination Program rollout to migrant and refugee communities in Australia. She is passionate about women’s rights and the rights of migrants and refugees. Nuria migrated to Australia from Spain and actively participates in the Spanish-speaking community in Canberra. She also volunteered as a co-presenter on the Spanish community radio program. Nuria holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Policy from Miguel Hernandez Universidad of Elche in Spain. She also completed a one-year exchange program in Cracow, Poland. Before joining SPG, she worked in the legal, aged care, education and diplomatic fields in Australia and Europe.

Emad Bahar

Senior Policy Officer

Emad’s work at the SPG focuses on policy and research. Emad has a keen interest in international affairs, security, and law. He has worked with the private sector and diplomatic teams in developing bilateral relations, trade policies and investment strategies and has experience generating and coordinating community-related projects. He volunteered as a Support Worker with different refugee and migrant communities. His role was to identify and provide support and community services such as interpreting, teaching about Australian laws and regulations, developing social skills, and managing media queries. He has tertiary qualifications in politics and international relations and has participated in two exchange programs at Oxford and Maastricht Universities. His focus includes contemporary political transformation in the Middle East and conflict resolution in the Sahel and East Africa region.

Adair O’Brien

Senior Policy Officer

Adair is a Senior Policy Officer at SPG. He has worked as a political research officer for a diplomatic mission in Canberra and as a junior risk management consultant attached to the Department of Defence. He has a track record for helping organisations achieve their objectives in a wide range of complex policy topics in Australia. He is passionate about multiculturalism and refugee rights and interested in all things related to future industries, society & politics across the global south and Australia. Adair has a bachelor's in sociology and political science and a master’s in diplomacy and international relations from the ANU. He speaks Spanish at a CEFR B2 ‘Upper Intermediate’ level and is currently attempting to learn Arabic.

Minandi Rudman

Program Coordinator - Settlement

Minandi works as a Program Coordinator in the Settlement portfolio, including with the Afghan-Australian Community and Settlement Support (AACASS) program. She is particularly passionate about this role as it supports organisations to deliver positive settlement outcomes through effective, innovative, and needs-based practice. Minandi brings a wealth of settlement knowledge and experience to her role at SPG, having worked in the sector for ten years at Access Community Services. She started her career in settlement working as a team leader for the Status Resolution Support Services program before managing the Youth Transitions program. Minandi also worked within the corporate area of settlement as an Executive Officer, providing input and support to the organisation's operations. She holds a Diploma of Community Service, Bachelor of Ministries and is currently completing her Master of Education and Learning. Minandi is based in Brisbane.

Walid Rahman

Project Officer – Afghan Australian Community and Settlement Support

Walid has extensive experience in the provision of community capacity building through his work with international organisations such as the Australian Red Cross and UNHCR. Walid is passionate about humanitarian programs and international aid, which has fuelled his work with refugees and migrants for many years. A graduate in government and international affairs, he has also worked as a policy advisor for the previous government of Afghanistan, where he coordinated several projects working to promote gender-empowerment with NGOs in Afghanistan.

Marta Jasińska

Communications Officer

Marta works across the SPG and auspices organisations and portfolios to deliver meaningful communications.  Marta is passionate about the power of communication to connect people with ideas and support positive social change. She has tertiary qualifications in communications, international trade and development, and anthropology, and has a rich professional background having worked across international development, trade and health sectors. Marta has always had a passion for women’s rights and challenging harmful social norms. She is strongly driven by positive social movements and working towards a more equal, safe and compassionate society. Marta is based in Adelaide.

Claire Momsen

Policy and Project Officer – Health and Mental Health

Claire's work focuses on the ability of the Australian health care system to provide culturally responsive health care and resources to migrant and refugee populations. Claire holds a Bachelor of International Relations (2012) from the Australian National University (ANU) and a Master of Equality Studies (2014) from University College Dublin. She is now pursuing a Master of Culture, Health and Medicine at ANU. Her academic work has focused on diverse topics, from refugee health to cultural considerations around organ donation. Claire has worked at Oxfam Great Britain, Australia for UNHCR, UN Women Australia, and within the corporate sector.

Raylynn Benn

Policy and Project Officer - Health and Mental Health

Raylynn is a public health professional with 8 years experience in global health and international development. Raylynn has experience working across the Indo-Pacific region and in-country in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Cambodia. Raylynn’s work has focused on health system strengthening through service delivery, governance, policy, gender, youth leadership and community engagement within both non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and communicable diseases including multidrug-resistant TB, and HIV/AIDS. Raylynn is particularly interested in Climate Change and Public Health and deeply committed to sustainability and the empowerment of individuals and communities to map out their own future pathways. Raylynn has qualifications in health sciences, and humanitarian health and is completing a Masters of Global Health through the University of Sydney. Prior to joining TSPG Raylynn previously worked with, the Burnet Institute, civil society organisations (CSO) in PNG, UNAIDS in Cambodia and Abt Associates.

Olga Cherniak

Policy, Projects and Evaluation Officer

Olga facilitates strategic communications and outreach and applies her extensive knowledge of analytical tools to strengthen the impact of SPG's work. Olga also contributes to a range of policy research projects. She holds a Bachelor of International Economics and Management (2016) from Kyiv National Economic University in Ukraine and a Master of Science in Economic Behaviour and Governance (2020) from the University of Kassel in Germany. Olga also studied in the People's Republic of China for three years and participated in an academic exchange program in Poland. She is passionate about the human rights of migrants and refugees. She applies her extensive international professional experience to promote better outcomes for migrant and refugee communities in Australia.

Annie Willox

Executive Officer to the CEO

Annie works directly with the CEO, Ms Carla Wilshire, providing administrative, organisational and policy assistance. Annie also works with the Secretariats of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity and the Cultural Diversity Justice Network, providing administrative and research assistance. She was closely involved in the consultations, research, drafting and publication in the Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals (2nd ed), and has supported its implementation and promotion. She has also worked on developing Legal Literate, a plain English legal glossary app, among other projects. Annie has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) from the Australian National University.

Alexis Cleary

Executive Assistant to the CEO

Lexie joins the SPG Group after some 19 years of working for a peak body representing aged care providers. Lexie provides executive support to the SPG CEO and general office support to the SPG Team.

Chloe Xu

Finance and Administration Officer

Chloe brings to SPG five years of experience as the manager of a health service organisation. She holds a Master of Accounting from the University of Canberra. Chloe provides executive and accounting support to the SPG CEO and senior management team. As a migrant from China, Chloe is passionate about the experiences and voices of migrant communities.

Varsha Patil

Project Administrator – Digital and Multilingual Programs

At SPG, Varsha coordinates designs and content on crisis communication based on informed policy adapted to the needs of migrants and refugees. Outside SPG, she has produced educational content for Asia Options that help build an Asian literate Australia. At the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, she raised awareness around the diversifying needs of a globalising Japanese society. Varsha was a Japanese Government Scholar at Sophia University (Japan), holds a BA (Honours) in Japanese from Jawaharlal Nehru University (India) and a MA in Asian and Pacific Studies from the Australian National University.

Innes Willox AM

Innes Willox AM

Chair

Innes is Chief Executive (appointed in 2012) of the Australian Industry Group, a leading industry organisation representing businesses in a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, construction, transport, defence, ICT and labour hire. He also serves as Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration, Deputy Chair of Australian Super, Director of Innovative Manufacturing Co-operative Research Centre and Australian American Leadership Dialogue, Convenor of Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum, and Chair of RMIT College of Business Industry Advisory Board. Innes served as the Australian Consul General to Los Angeles (2006-2008), was Chief of Staff to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs from (2004-2006), and earlier held a number of private sectors and government positions including Manager of Global Public Affairs for Singapore Airlines based in Singapore (2000-2004). Innes began his career as a journalist. His positions included Chief of Staff at The Age in Melbourne and Chief Political Correspondent for The Age in the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery. Innes was educated at Melbourne High School, Monash University (BA History and Politics), and Edinburgh Business School. He is based in Melbourne and is a lifetime supporter of the Collingwood Football Club.

Carmel Guerra OAM

Carmel Guerra OAM

Carmel is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Multicultural Youth, the first and largest organisation in Australia to work exclusively with migrant and refugee young people. Carmel is widely recognised for her knowledge and advocacy on multicultural youth issues. Carmel has served on numerous boards and committees and is currently the Chairperson of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia, the national peak body representing the rights and interests of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. She is also a member of the Youth Parole Board of Victoria and the SBS Community Advisory Committee. Carmel was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2016 for services to multicultural youth in Victoria and the Victorian Premier’s Award for Community Harmony in 2015.

Eamonn Fitzpatrick

Eamonn Fitzpatrick

Born in Hong Kong, Eamonn Fitzpatrick migrated to Sydney in the early 90s and has spent nearly three decades working in Australian government, media and politics. He currently heads his own public affairs firm and has advised some of the world’s biggest brands and top 100 ASX companies on effectively engaging governments, stakeholders and the media. Eamonn was senior press secretary to Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and ran government communications for Premiers Anna Bligh in Queensland and Morris Iemma in New South Wales. More recently he was Asia Pacific Partner at Consulum, an international advisory firm providing special counsel to governments and national leaders on global engagement, economic development and trade promotion. His experience in the not-for-profit sector includes leading global communications for the iconic global eye health charity, The Fred Hollows Foundation, and previously serving on the board of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Australia’s leading child safety charity. A former Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Eamonn began his career with Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. He currently appears weekly on Sky News Australia.

David John Wissler Knox

David John Wissler Knox

David is currently the Chairman of Snowy Hydro, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Knox Anchors, and Micro-X. He is a Non-Executive Director of CSIRO and Redflow. He is a Board Member of Adelaide Festival and a Council Member of the Royal Institute of Australia.
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, David has more than 30 years’ experience in the global oil and gas industry. He was previously CEO and Managing Director of Australian Naval Infrastructure, CEO and Managing Director of Santos Limited, and Managing Director for BP Developments in Australasia. David has held management and engineering positions at BP, ARCO and Shell in the United Kingdom, Pakistan, USA, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Norway. He also served as Chair of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association from 2011 to 2013.

Peter Nash

Peter Nash

Peter spent his executive career at KPMG where he was admitted as a partner in 1993, and served as National Chairman from 2011 to 2017, during which he was responsible for the overall governance and strategic positioning of the firm. His positions with KPMG included member of the Global Board of KPMG, Regional Head of Audit for Asia Pacific, National Managing Partner for Audit in Australia, and Head of KPMG Financial Services. Peter has worked in geographically diverse and complex operating environments providing advice on a range of topics including strategy, risk management, internal controls, business processes, and regulatory change. Peter is Non-Executive Chairman of the Johns Lyng Group Limited and a Non-Executive Director of Westpac Group, ASX and Mirvac. He also serves on the Board of not-for-profit organisations, including The General Sir John Monash Foundation, Golf Victoria, and The Koorie Heritage Trust.

Catherine Scarth

Catherine Scarth

Catherine is the Chief Executive Officer of AMES Australia, an organisation providing a wide range of interconnected settlement, education, vocational training and employment services in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania. Catherine’s career has focussed on the design and implementation of innovative social programs and enterprises in Australia and the United Kingdom. She has achieved this through the creation of partnerships with government, employers and the community sector to deliver programs designed to increase the economic and social participation for newly arrived migrants and refugees. Catherine is a Board Member of Thrive Refugee Enterprises.