Our Staff

Carla Wilshire OAM

Carla Wilshire OAM

Chief Executive Officer (Canberra)

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

Head of Strategy (Canberra)

Gulnara has a significant track record in civil society leadership and strategy across social policy, gender equality and human rights nationally and internationally. 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 - Settlement (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.

Brad Chilcott

Special Adviser - Communications (Adelaide)

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 (Melbourne)

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 (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.

Alicia Weiderman

Senior Policy Advisor (Brisbane)

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 (Sydney)

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.

Monica Rivas

Manager - Training (Brisbane)

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.

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.

Emad Bahar

Senior Policy Officer (Canberra)

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 (Canberra)

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.

Sara Staino

Program Administrator - Disinformation (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.

Minandi Rudman

Program Coordinator - Settlement (Brisbane)

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.

Raylynn Benn

Policy and Project Officer - Health and Mental Health (Canberra)

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.

Claire Momsen

Policy and Project Officer – Health and Mental Health (Canberra)

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.

Walid Rahman

Project Officer – Afghan Australian Community and Settlement Support (Canberra)

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.

Nick Ross

Policy and Project Officer - 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.

Maria Rosales

Project and Administration Officer - Settlement (Brisbane)

Maria is passionate about community development programs that support multicultural communities and young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Maria brings over five years of experience working and volunteering in the Australian Higher Education and not-for-profit sectors providing program, project, and operational support to organisations that support and advocate for fair and humane policies for refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum. As a refugee, Maria aims to put her lived experiences and skills at the service of programs and research-based efforts that are focused on improving resources and creating pathways and opportunities for future generations of young people with migrant and refugee backgrounds. She holds a Bachelor of International Relations from La Trobe University.

Molly George

Policy and Project Officer - Digital (Melbourne)

Molly is a Policy and Project Officer at the Centre for Digital Wellbeing, facilitating and supporting consultations, research and policy within the digital space. She has worked across the NFP sector with organisations focused on design and advocacy with young people, particularly in the space of digital safety and is passionate about human-centred design. Molly is the Vice President at YWCA Australia and a graduate student at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University.

Olga Cherniak

Policy, Projects and Evaluation Officer (Canberra)

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.

Annie Willox

Executive Officer to the CEO (Canberra)

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.

Marta Jasińska

Communications Officer (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.

Elisa Arduca

Project Officer - Digital (Melbourne)

Eli brings diverse content design and editorial experience to the development of multilingual digital products serving migrant and refugee communities. She has over 15 years of experience in the digital and print publishing industries, working on complex content projects in the tourism, education and government sectors. She has a deep commitment to social justice and is focused on producing work that contributes to inclusion, participation and empowerment. Eli holds tertiary qualifications in media arts and journalism and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in community development.

Varsha Patil

Project Administrator – Digital Communications (Canberra)

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.

Alexis Cleary

Executive Assistant to the CEO (Canberra)

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 (Canberra)

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.