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In 2019, we awarded travel scholarships to two of our individual members from regional Australia, Pushpa Bakshi and Yen Hawkes, for their participation in a leadership program run by our sister alliance—the National Rural Women’s Coalition. The RRR Canberra Muster is a 4-day residential leadership program held yearly in Canberra. The program provides an exceptional opportunity to women from rural, regional, and remote Australia to interact with inspirational leaders and receive formal leadership training in a collaborative group environment.

Our scholarship recipients reflect on their experiences:

Photo of Yen Hawkes

Yen Hawkes

Photo of Pushpa Bakshi

Pushpa Bakshi

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Headshot Nyadol

Nyadol Nyuon

Nyadol Nyuon is the Chair of Harmony Alliance: Migrant and Refugee Women for Change. She is a lawyer, community advocate, writer, and accomplished public speaker.

Nyadol was born in a refugee camp in Itang, Ethiopia, and raised in Kakuma Refugee camp, Kenya. In 2005, at the age of eighteen, she moved to Australia as a refugee. Since then, Nyadol has completed a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne. She now works as a commercial litigator with Arnold Bloch Leibler.

Nyadol Nyuon is a vocal advocate for human rights, migrant and refugee women, and the settlement of people with refugee experiences and those seeking asylum. She has worked and volunteered extensively in these areas with a range of organisations. Nyadol is also a regular media commentator on these issues, having appeared on ABC’s The Drum, as a panellist on Q&A and contributing to The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and the Saturday Paper, to name just a few.

In both 2011 and 2014, Nyadol was nominated as one of the one hundred most influential African Australians. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Future Justice Prize. In 2018, her efforts to combat racism were widely recognised, with achievements including the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Racism. It Stops With Me Award for her advocacy and activism on behalf of the Australian-African and Melbourne’s South Sudanese communities, and the Harmony Alliance Award for significant contribution to empowering migrant and refugee women. Nyadol was a co-winner of the Tim McCoy Prize for her advocacy on behalf of the South Sudanese community and received the Afro-Australian Student Organisation Unsung Hero Award.

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Jeanette Hourani

A refugee in her own country Lebanon, then a refugee in Germany until she migrated to Australia in 1988. Jeanette has passion to gender equity and advocacy. Established Voice of Arabic Women on Radio 3CR to address the issues of gender, power, domestic violence, women’s empowerment in the capacity of a volunteer. Worked at SBS radio as a paid journalist/broadcaster. Held various positions and coordinated various programs and projects including women’s health, family and children’s services and early childhood, training and education including Dianella Community Health, Royal Women’s Hospital and VICSEG New Futures. Worked with grassroots women as an advocate, support and mentor. Joined the Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC) and held Chairperson positions and a Board member. Winner of Hume City Council’s 2007 Teacher’s Award.

Yen Hawkes

I was one of the 12 women (and first from Southwest WA) to be selected from a pool of 90 applicants to take part in NRWC’s RRR Canberra Muster 2019. NRWC RRR Women’s Canberra MUSTER 2019 program is supported by funding from the Office for Women, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. I am very grateful to Harmony Alliance for sponsoring my travel and travel-related costs for the program.

At the launch of the 2019 program, I met with NRWC CEO Keli McDonald, President Leonie Noble, Facilitator Meredith Turnbull, 11 inspiring women from all across Australia and other stakeholders. I listened to introductions and project pitches and did mine too. My heart was beating so hard when I introduced myself in the room, but I knew I did well. I told myself that I will learn from everyone and make the most of the program.
Facilitators Meredith Turnbull and Ruth McGowan taught us about leadership skills, social media and board governance. The sessions were well planned, informative and interactive. There were group discussions to learn from other participants to further enhance my leadership skills. At one point, Meredith asked all of us who our “heroes” were, to which I said it was my Mom. At the wrap-up, Ruth showed us a photo of herself as a little girl and asked us to shut our eyes and imagine seeing ourselves as little girls. She said, “what would you say to that little girl?”, “is she proud of your journey?”. It made me emotional looking back at the paths I have taken.
We spent a whole day at The Australian Parliament House, which made such a great impact in my leadership journey. As I entered the building, I had goosebumps as I had never imagined myself spending the day at the APH, having the opportunity to meet and speak with or sit next to influential leaders who inspired me through their stories. Minister Marise Payne, Hon Melissa Price MP, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Senator Larissa Waters, Hon Nola Marino MP, Hon Justine Elliot MP each had their own style to inspire and contribute towards my leadership journey.
I would like to say thank you to the NRWC team and Harmony Alliance for making the difference in my leadership journey through the NRWC RRR Women’s Canberra MUSTER 2019 program. I received and continue to receive so much support from the team. The bond among all of us was precious as we laughed and cried together during the program every time we shared a piece of our story. It is the program’s fifth year and I would like to encourage other amazing women in Australia to apply for the program and I assure you that you will go home feeling recharged, motivated and you will challenge yourself to be a better leader in your community.

Yen Hawkes
Individual Member
Harmony Alliance

Pushpa Bakshi

I am grateful to NRWC and Harmony Alliance for their sponsorship to support my attendance at the Canberra 2019 Muster. I gained incredible insights from a range of speakers who shared their personal leadership experiences with us. The topics covered included framing advocacy issues, bringing an issue to the attention of policy makers, shaping public opinion, and strategies to have voices heard.

Having recently gone through the 7th most despairing grievance in my personal life, the NRWC Muster 2019 was an absolute confidence booster. The opportunity provided me with exposure to possible support avenues to pursue my passion for community engagement.

I have had a deep passion for community work for a long time. I have carried out most of my community work silently so far. However, my will and passion has always been to reach out to a wider audience, on a larger scale and more so to women and youth. 

The leadership muster has given me the valuable opportunity to do just that for our rural, remote and regional areas. The muster helps each of the participants develop and deliver independent community leadership projects. This is a starting point for me; because of this muster and my project delivery, many lives will change at a new level.

My project for the muster is Stanthorpe Leadership & Motivation Rescue Project. The aim of the project is to support the Stanthorpe community, located south-west of Brisbane. Due to droughts and recent bushfires, this community has suffered considerably. While the community has been incredibly resilient in face of such adversities, the overall spirit is low, and they desperately need some support and leadership during this time. 

The project will deliver workshops on accessing leadership skills from within and spirit lifting. I will also share leadership resources and provide education and training on the importance of well being and mental health. The main message of my project is that it is okay to ask for help and take the lead where possible to impact the community in a greater way.

Following on from this project I will to go back to Stanthorpe to ensure a sustained and ongoing support system is established. Over the last 20 years, I have been delivering food baskets to homeless people, women’s shelters and children’s homes around Christmas. This year, I will carry out my Christmas foundation program in Stanthorpe. 

I have dedicated myself to ‘living a life of service’, which requires a significant amount of leadership capabilities. I believe that successful leadership is available to anyone who is willing to make a conscious choice to develop the skills. Whilst some may appear to be natural born leaders, the reality is, the skills that make a leader great can all be taught, learned and strengthened.

Pushpa Bakshi
Individual Member
Harmony Alliance

Anyier Yuol

Anyier Yuol is the chair of the Australian National Committee on Refugee Women (ANCORW).
Anyier was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to Australia when she was ten years old. In 2015 she completed a Bachelor of Arts Major in Development Studies, Sociology and Anthropology at UNSW and is currently studying her Masters in International Development (Refugees and Displacement).

She is currently employed at Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) as a Youth Transition Support Worker, where she works particularly with newly arrived refugee youth to connect them with education, sporting and employment opportunities, as well as to the local community.

Anyier Yuol currently divides her time between refugee community activism, youth leadership, mentoring, playing soccer and being a sports advocate, and modelling. She is determined to encourage, inspire and support her fellow women to find and exceed their potential within the modelling world and all other facets of their lives and those around them.

Anyier has extensive experience speaking and performing to large and diverse audiences. She is acknowledged and credited for leadership and motivational skills, as well as her drive, perseverance and capacity to engage a wide variety of groups and individuals.

Michal Morris

Ms Michal Morris is the CEO of inTouch Multicultural Centre against Family Violence, based in Melbourne, Victoria.

Michal has a deep commitment to social justice evidenced by a senior executive career across the government and third sector, driving access and equity in client centred care and evidence based service and program delivery.

Michal has 20 years’ experience working in the multicultural sector, as well as leading a range of health programs including mental health, suicide prevention and drug and alcohol.

Photo of Carla Wilshire

Carla Wilshire OAM

Ms Carla Wilshire represents Migration Council Australia – an ex-officio member of the Council.

Carla is the CEO of Migration Council Australia, the national research and policy institution on migration, settlement and social cohesion.

Carla has a background in policy development, corporate governance and tertiary research. She has worked as a public servant and as an advisor to Government, principally in the area of migration and resettlement, including as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Carla is a member of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity, which provides policy advice to the Council of Chief Justices of Australia on improving access to justice for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.

Carla is also a member of the National Anti-Racism Partnership and co-founded the Friendly Nation Initiative, which aims to link corporate Australia with the settlement community to improve employment outcomes for refugees.

Eugenia Tsoulis OAM

Ms Eugenia Tsoulis has 40 years of work experience across a number of sectors focusing on multicultural policy research and review, leadership management, mental health, education, the arts, and employment and training.

Eugenia is the CEO of the Australian Migrant Resource Centre, and over the past 20 years, she has overseen its expanding work, ensuring a critical leadership position in South Australia’s social, cultural and economic development.

Previously, as the Director of the Migrant Workers’ Centre, her work furthered migrant women’s employment, training and participation. Eugenia has established programs that serve to empower migrant and refugee women and young people through the Stronger Families initiative that counters domestic violence and through women’s training and employment.

She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1994, ZONTA Woman of the Year Award in 2007, and the Governor’s Multicultural Award—Individual Achiever of the Year in 2012. Eugenia was a founding member of the Settlement Council of Australia, and has served on a considerable number of State and Commonwealth boards and advisory committees.

Eugenia received the inaugural Harmony Alliance Award in 2017, for lifetime contribution to empowering migrant and refugee women.

Tamara Stewart-Jones

Ms Tamara Stewart-Jones represents Multicultural Youth South Australia.

Tamara has 14 years of leadership and service delivery experience in the human services in both mainstream and multicultural contexts. She has extensive knowledge and experience in responding to a range of social issues and problems, having worked across service areas as diverse as settlement, health, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, crisis intervention and domestic violence.

Tamara has dual qualifications in primary health care and transpersonal counseling, as well as post‑graduate qualifications in Social Work.

She has worked in a teaching and research capacity at the University of South Australia for the past three years with her work focusing on new and emerging issues in both refugee and Indigenous communities.

Violet Roumeliotis

Ms Violet Roumeliotis represents Settlement Services International, a NSW community‑based, not-for-profit organisation that provides support services for refugees, asylum seekers, people with disability, job seekers, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who require foster care.

Violet has steered SSI through a major growth period, from a staff of less than 70 just four years ago, to over 500 in 2016. She was named in Pro Bono Australia’s 2014 and 2015 lists of the 25 most influential people working in the not-for-profit sector.

Violet has an extensive background in the leadership of large not‑for‑profit organisations and providing services to at‑risk communities. She has developed specialised knowledge and skills in working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, refugees, women and families in crisis, and prisoners.

Violet has a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Sociology and History from UNSW, and a Masters in Management from UTS. She is also an accredited mediator.

Sahar Okhovat

Ms Sahar Okhovat represents Refugee Council of Australia – an ex-officio member of the Council.

Sahar is a Senior Policy Officer with the Refugee Council of Australia, the national umbrella body for refugees, people seeking asylum and the organisations and individuals who support them. Her work involves research, policy and advocacy on issues impacting refugees and people seeking asylum.

Sahar previously worked with Australian Red Cross as a caseworker and a team leader in Migration Support Program and later on as a Humanitarian Observer, monitoring conditions of immigration detention centres. She holds a Master of Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sydney.

Juliana Nkrumah AM

Ms Juliana Nkrumah AM represents African Women Australia. Juliana is an advocate for women—specifically refugee women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and African women.

She founded African Women Australia as part of her quest to have African women gain a voice in Australian sociopolitical systems.

Juliana has served on several Boards to improve the status of women, including the Board of YWCA NSW, Australian National Committee on Refugee Women, Act For Peace, African Ministerial Committee, and the Eminent Australians Committee to review the Australian Citizenship Test.

Juliana’s past contributions included being the first women's representative of the African Communities’ Council NSW, initiating African Workers Network in Sydney, working as the first Community Education and Development Worker on FGM in Australia and advising in the development of the National Education Toolkit for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Awareness.

She managed the African Liaison Unit set up in Centrelink's Multicultural Services Unit in 2005-2006, and led two nationwide consultations into issues affecting refugees and migrants from African countries.

Juliana Nkrumah was awarded Membership of the Order of Australia for her work in the community, and was the winner of Woman of the West from University of Western Sydney in 2007.

Libby Lloyd AM

During her career Ms Libby Lloyd has been: President of UNIFEM/UN Women in Australia (2002-05); co-founder and board member of White Ribbon Foundation (2003-2013); Chair of Australia’s National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2008-09). Libby has worked internationally with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); in the Commonwealth Public Service and in the private and community sectors.

Libby is or has been CEO, chair or member of a range of government advisory boards, private and not-for-profit organisations and continues to hold a number of senior roles in the community sector. She is Patron of the indigo foundation and of the Gold Coast Centre against Sexual Violence.

In 1992 Libby’s work with the United Nations and for Australian communities overseas was recognised when she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to refugees and to the international community in Iraq and Kuwait.

Maha Krayem Abdo

Ms Maha Krayem Abdo represents the United Muslim Women Association.

Maha has spent over three decades working together with the Muslim Women Association to help give Muslim women safety and assurance in difficult and trying circumstances.

Today she represents and gives voice to all women abroad as well as in Australia. She works at the local, national and international levels advising government on policy, services and strategies to create a harmonious community for future generations of Muslim and non-Muslim women.

In 2016 Maha was the NSW Seniors Week Ambassador as well as the BreastScreen NSW Ambassador. In 2015 Maha was a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Medal, and in 2014 she was the NSW Human Rights Ambassador for 2014-15.

Gail Ker OAM

Ms Gail Ker represents Access Community Services. Over the past 20 years,

Gail’s vast industry experience and arguably unrivalled expertise in the Australian multicultural, humanitarian and community sectors have seen her change countless lives for the better. A nationally lauded and award winning visionary, Gail leads nearly 300 staff at Access in pursuit of their organisational vision—to create social, cultural and economic experiences and opportunities that transform the lives of individuals and communities globally.

Renowned for her expertise in innovative service solutions for newly arrived migrants and humanitarian entrants, Gail is a recognised thought leader in needs-based community planning, innovative business models, and strategic partnerships. Gail’s knowledge is actively sought by policy makers, politicians, and industry leaders, both nationally and internationally.

She serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Settlement Services Advisory Council advising the Federal Minister for Social Services.

Gail’s standing has been recognised with a number of honours, including the 2010 Order of Australia Medal, and 2017 Australian Migration and Settlement Awards –Empowering Women Award.

Uieta Kaufusi

Ms Uieta Kaufusi represents Tongan Association of Canberra and Queanbeyan.

Ms Uieta Kaufusi is a proud Tongan woman based in Canberra and is the National Sector Engagement Manager for 1800RESPECT, the National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Counseling service.

Prior to joining the 1800RESPECT team in 2016, she led a breadth of initiatives on addressing domestic and family violence both in Australia and overseas. In her previous role as Learning and Development Manager at Lifeline Australia, Uieta managed the development and implementation of the DV‑Alert training suite—a nationally accredited and delivered domestic violence response training program for frontline workers. During her work with DV‑Alert, Uieta oversaw the development, implementation and evaluation of the General, Indigenous and Multicultural streams of DV-Alert, including the DV Awareness session and the Brothers Standing Tall: Aboriginal Men’s Program.

Uieta is married with 3 children and is a member of the ACT Government Multicultural Advisory Council, the White Ribbon Australia Indigenous Reference Group, and the Lifeline Aotearoa Pasifika Reference Group.

Carmel Guerra OAM

Ms Carmel Guerra represents Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network – an ex-officio member of the Council.

For over 30 years, Carmel has been a strong advocate for young people of refugee and migrant backgrounds in Victoria. Carmel has used her extensive experience to improve advocacy and support networks for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. As the CEO of the Centre for Multicultural Youth, she is at the forefront of innovative service delivery and policy development.

Carmel’s contribution and service to multicultural youth in Victoria has been recognised with a Victorian Premier’s Award for Community Harmony in 2015 and a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2016. Carmel is the Chairperson of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN), the national peak body representing multicultural youth issues in Australia.

She also serves on numerous boards and committees, including the Youth Parole Board of Victoria, the Victorian Children’s Council, the Migration Council of Australia, and the Settlement Services Advisory Council advising the Federal Minister for Social Services.

Khadija Gbla

Ms Khadija Gbla is an individual member of the Harmony Alliance Council.

Khadija is a very passionate and inspired young African Australian woman. She is the Director of Khadija Gbla Cultural consultancy, which offers cultural awareness, intelligence training and facilitation to government agencies, not‑for‑profit organisations and individuals; advocacy and mentoring to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Khadija is also the Executive Director of No FGM Australia—a not‑for‑profit organisation, which works to protect Australian girls from FGM and to support survivors of FGM. She is an Ambassador for Our Watch and Director of Reacher’s Philanthropy - Committed to Women's and Girl's Self Empowerment.

Khadija is an award winning inspirational speaker, facilitator and consultant and has been recognised on a number of occasions, including most recently as 2017 Cosmopolitan Women of the Year finalist, 2016 Women's Weekly and Qantas Women of the Future finalist, and 2016 AusMumpreneur Rising Star and Making a Difference Award recipient.

Photo of Sandra Wright

Sandra Wright

Sandra is the CEO of the Settlement Council of Australia, the peak body representing Australia's vibrant settlement services. SCoA's members include organisations, large and small, who are committed to the successful settlement of refugees and migrants across the country. Prior to joining SCoA, Sandra led law reform in the areas of sexual assault and family violence. She has also held leadership positions in settlement services, and a number of board and advisory council positions in the multicultural and women's sectors. Sandra is a qualified lawyer, and is currently pursuing a PhD on domestic and family violence in Australian Muslim communities.


Maria Dimopoulos (Chair)

Ms Maria Dimopoulos is the independent Chair of the Alliance Council and the Harmony Alliance.

Maria is a nationally and internationally recognised expert specialising in the intersections of cultural diversity, gender equality and the law. As Managing Director at Myriad International Consulting Services she has had extensive experience in policy formulation for Government, research for social planning and in community legal education.

Much of Maria’s work has been aimed at promoting and enhancing cultural diversity and gender informed approaches in the ongoing complex legal and political reform processes and in ensuring the meaningful inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives in those reform processes.

Maria continues to deliver judicial education programs across Australia and currently sits on a number of boards including the Coronial Council of Victoria, the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity and the Castan Centre for Human Rights.