Our Staff

Carla Wilshire OAM

Carla Wilshire OAM

Chief Executive Officer (Canberra)

Carla Wilshire OAM is the founding CEO of The Social Policy Group (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 Board Director of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, the co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Migrant and Refugee Health Partnership and the Judicial Council on Diversity & Inclusion, as well as a member of the Council of Harmony Alliance, the national migrant and refugee women's alliance.

Jamila Padhee

Jamila Padhee

Leader of Operations (Brisbane)

Jamila Padhee is the Leader of Operations with the Social Policy Group.   She was previously a Co-CEO with the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT), and Deputy CEO of Multicultural Australia.   She has been working with people from refugee backgrounds, people seeking asylum and migrants for over 20 years in a variety of casework, community development and leadership roles. Jamila is passionate about multiculturalism and the strengths and opportunities of our cultural diversity.  Jamila has a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology).

Gail Ker OAM

Gail Ker OAM

Special Advisor - THRIVE Logan (Brisbane)

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.

Ine Beerens

Ine Beerens

Senior Manager – Digital Inclusion (Melbourne)

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.

Sara Staino

Sara Staino

Project Manager - CALD Electoral Participation (Canberra)

Sara has almost twenty years of experience working in democracy, governance, and election-related fields. Her focus has been on developing policy, strengthening public institutions, assessing capacity development needs, and developing the capacity of government officials, civil society, and policymakers. Sara has worked with UNDP, UNICEF and the International Institute for Democracy for Electoral Assistance in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle. Most recently she worked for the Australian Electoral Commission. Sara holds a Master of Social Science (M.S.S), with a Major in Political Science.

Nuria Alarcón Lopez

Nuria Alarcón Lopez

Senior Manager - Gender (Canberra)

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.

Nick Ross

Nick Ross

Senior Policy Advisor - Settlement (Melbourne)

Nick works on policy and projects in the SPG Settlement and Community Capacity Building team. Nick helps facilitate the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) Community of Practice (CoP) and supports the Ukrainian Community and Settlement Support (UCASS) grant program. Nick also facilitates research, consultation, and policy formulation in settlement and community capacity building. Nick has a background in humanitarian-development research as well as evaluation and learning, having previously conducted research for non-government organisations, the United Nations, foundations, and donor governments, with a focus on Afghanistan. Nick holds a Master of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.

Olga Cherniak

Olga Cherniak

Data Analyst (Melbourne)

Olga conducts data analysis and evaluation and monitoring processes with her extensive knowledge of analytical tools to strengthen the impact of SPG's work. Olga contributes to a range of policy and research projects. She is also a Board Director of Forcibly Displaced People Network. 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.

Isabella Tilley

Communications and Policy Manager (Melbourne)

Isabella manages communications across the SPG and auspiced organisations and portfolios to support external information sharing. Isabella also works on different policy areas, providing assistance with design and research. She has a Bachelors in International Relations and a Masters of Journalism, and a professional background in federal politics, the union movement and refugee advocacy. Isabella is particularly passionate about economic equality.

Marta Jasińska

Marta Jasińska

Communications Advisor (Adelaide)

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.

Varsha Patil

Varsha Patil

Project Administrator – Digital Inclusion and Communications (Canberra)

Varsha works across SPG's digital and multilingual portfolio, coordinating digital design and in-language communication based on informed policy adapted to CALD audiences. Her focus has been on accessing community needs, capacity building through skill development and facilitating information delivery into respective communities. She lead the education and awareness-raising campaign in alignment with the National Dowry Abuse Prevention Framework by co-designing community-led prevention information into resources on family and domestic violence. Most recently, she worked on restructuring the Harmony Votes campaign to boost the involvement of women from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Australian democracy during the NSW elections. Varsha holds a BA (Hons.) in Japanese, MA in Asian and Pacific Studies and was a Japanese Government Scholar. She speaks Hindi and Japanese. 

Chai Oonnankat

Chai Oonnankat

Digital Content Officer (Adelaide)

Chai joins the SPG Communications Teams as the Digital Content Officer. He holds a Master of Environmental Policy and Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Photography and Illustration Design. Chai has worked in communication, graphic design and engagement roles across tech start-ups, construction and education sectors. Chai’s dissertation research focused on how culturally and linguistically diverse Australians’ current inequalities are exacerbated by the threats of climate change.