Elections for Board vacancies will be held at our Annual General Meeting (AGM), which will take place from 6pm on Thursday, 30 November 2023 at the Maltese Community Council of Victoria in Parkville.

There are 12 candidates standing for nine elected positions. One nomination* was received for the regional council representative position. You can read their nominee statements below.

Abiola Akinbiyi

Abiola (Abi) Akinbiyi is an award-winning healthcare professional, entrepreneur, and community leader with over 20 years of experience in Australia’s health sector, working with multicultural communities and not-for-profit organisations. A result-oriented person with a relationship-oriented approach, Abiola is an experienced board member leading and chairing many community committees and initiatives, including serving on the board of Melbourne Primary Care Network.

Abiola is a member of Care Africa, and she has also been an active member of Africa Day Australia (ADA), where she served as an ordinary executive member for four years. She has immensely contributed, participated, and volunteered in different African and multicultural initiatives, events, and programs that promote social cohesion and peace in the community, including Chairing the New and Emerging Policy Advisory Committee at ECCV committees. She served as the coordinator of the ADA Gala dinner for three consecutive years since 2021.

As a registered nurse and Gerontologist, her advocacy and research have played a pivotal role in shaping policies and practices to address the challenges faced by migrants and the aging population in Victoria. Appointed as a VMC community representative commissioner in 2021-2023, Abiola is a lifelong learner with graduate and post-graduate qualifications in Mathematics, IT, Nursing, Gerontology, and Mental Health.

Abiola is the founder of Changepreneurs, a not-for-profit organisation that mentors African Australian female youth and CALD women to thrive. As a member of Rotary, she leads the Diversity Equity and Inclusion team at RCWH, a multiple award winner known for her selfless volunteering in the community. She is the winner of the 2021 Spirit of Victoria University Alumni Award, including being a finalist in the professional achievement categories 2021, African Day Australia community contribution award 2022, Social Justice Award 2023, and Afropreneurs award in 2018.

Abiola believes her experience and skills will be a valuable contribution to ECCV board. She embraces the philosophy that everyone deserves equal opportunity irrespective of race, gender, religion, or economic status.

Joe Caputo

I have been involved during all my adult life in advocating for the rights of minority groups and refugees.

The following is my record and experience:

  • Involved on the Board of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) since 2011 when I served as Chairperson for 2 years. In 2013 I was elected National Chairperson of The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA). I served FECCA as National Chairperson and immediate past Chair for 8 years until July 2022.
  • Served as Councillor and Mayor in the former City of Brunswick and Councillor and Mayor in the City of Moreland.
  • Currently a Board member of Merri Health a position that I have served for the past 6 years.
  • Also involved with a number of Italian community not for profit groups.
  • Graduate Diploma in Industrial Relations and HRM as well as a Master of Business from RMIT.

If re-elected:

I will continue to be a strong advocate in ensuring that Victoria and indeed Australia continues on the road of multiculturalism and inclusive institutions.

I would like to spend the next term in handing the baton to a new leadership to take the ECCV forward.

This will definitely be the last time that I will stand for election of the ECCV.

Yolette De Zilwa

I am pleased to submit my application to join the Board of the ECCV.

From 2000 to 2023 I was the principal of the Western English Language School, a multi-campus government school based in Braybrook and with campuses in Footscray, St Albans, Wyndham, Manor Lakes and Melton. It was a privilege to support newly arrived children and their families with education, community orientation and wellbeing, soon after they arrived in Melbourne.

In 2022 I was fortunate to be elected Chairperson of the Western Region Ethnic Communities Council (WRECC), having been a member of the organisation since its creation in the 1990s. Together with a talented Committee of Management, we are re-energising WRECC to serve both newly arrived and long-term migrant families in the South-West Region.

With help from Eddie Micallef, Jill Morgan, Con Pagonis and Emiliano Zucchi who attended our AGM in 2021, WRECC is redefining its role as part of the ECCV and FECCA, so that it serves as a conduit for local concerns, then taking these concerns to state and federal levels.

I hope that my background in education and community support in South-West Region will be of value to the ECCV Board. I will learn as much as I contribute, I am sure.

Tina Douvos-Stathopoulos

Tina Douvos-Stathopoulos is an accomplished leader within the not-for-profit sector and experienced executive with over 30 years in multicultural social services and business management. Tina holds a Bachelor in Social Work, Graduate Diploma in Management and Masters in Business Administration. As the CEO of PRONIA, since 2016, Tina possesses business acumen and demonstrated experience in the implementation of innovative services responses in cultural care. She has Board experience and governance knowledge having served on a number of NFP sector boards, such as Buoyancy Foundation, Family Relationship Institute – Relatewell, and Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition.

Tina is a strong advocate for multicultural affairs and represents multicultural communities through active advocacy and participation on various national peak bodies and government committees such as Harmony Alliance Migrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition, Victorian Multicultural Commission Eastern Advisory Council, Monash Migrant Advisory Council, Aged & Community Care Providers Association committees and policy, FECCA Positive CALD Ageing and Women’s Advisory  Committee, and Senior Rights Victoria Elder Abuse Roundtable.

She has expertise in the management of diverse culturally responsive programs in the areas of aged care and disability, family and children, family violence, direct services, health and wellbeing, prevention and early intervention having delivered on over 300 projects in her roles as practicing social worker and counsellor, Senior Social Worker and Manager of Family & Community Services at PRONIA.

Tina has and continues to work collaboratively with key stakeholders to address the needs of migrant communities and newly arrived and emerging communities. Tina has a strong sense of social justice and advocates access and equity principles that supports every person’s rights to participate in society regardless of culture and language. Tina brings her experience on working with peak bodies, advocacy and policy work to support the strategic directions of the ECCV to create an inclusive society for all. She has an established working relationship with the ECCV having worked collaboratively on many projects, contributing to policy and community events.

Medha Gunawardana

I believe that my professional experience and education places me in a positive position to contribute to the ECCV board as a member. I believe my extensive networks and understanding of community needs can support the organisation to achieve its mission and strategic plan.

I am currently a Board member of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV), serving as Chair of the Positive Ageing and Aged Care Advisory Committee. I have 17+ years of experience in the multicultural sector including a comprehensive range of project management, community development, grant submissions and community support to the multicultural community within Australia and internationally.

I am currently working as the Manager – Community Strengthening at Australian Multicultural Community Services (AMCS), having completed my PhD at La Trobe University, in 2017. In my role at AMCS, I have successfully developed positive relationships with more than 50+ multicultural community leaders and their group members.

I have developed partnerships with 50+ Local Councils, and other NFP organisations. I liaise with the stakeholders in those organisations to ensure successful partnerships, including linking them to funding and project opportunities through AMCS.

I am also involved as a volunteer with the Sri Lankan community in Victoria, providing governance support and mentoring to 17+ community groups engaging seniors and youth, which I find a rewarding involvement. This involvement has developed from my passion for community service, advocacy, and empowerment of community members.

As part of my current role, I am participating in community forums, academic governance committees, conferences, and seminars as well as interacting with Government and non-government committees on issues involving independent living of CALD and disadvantaged people. Through this work I gained a comprehensive understanding of refugee and migrant issues.

Joining ECCV as a board member will give me an opportunity to work together with other board members, to influence policy change at each level of government and build a more socially cohesive, just, fair and inclusive Victoria.

Deepak Joshi

Born in India and now a long time Melburnian, Deepak Joshi is a former banker and public servant, and an activist and entrepreneur. A founder of social justice advocacy group, The Humanism Project, he has actively campaigned for climate and socio-economic justice, anti-discrimination, immigrant rights and more. His work includes a number of years of policy advocacy, globally co-ordinated activism and related media engagement, particularly in the spheres of human rights and Caste discrimination.

He is a member of the Eastern Metro Regional Advisory Council of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, a Manningham Council Multicultural Communities Advisory Committee member and one of the founders of Hindus for Human Rights (Australia & New Zealand), an organisation that advocates for pluralism and human rights and against all forms of racism, bigotry and oppression.

Deepak is the founder of NRI Affairs (nriaffairs.com), an independent on-line current-affairs platform for overseas Indians, with a particular focus on community transformation and advocacy aimed at promoting social justice.

Deepak finds parallels between the struggle for justice and human rights among the First Nations people in Australia and similar struggles of indigenous and marginalised people from across the world, and is committed to working towards truth telling and justice for all oppressed communities.

Deepak has been a volunteer social worker for a number of years in settlement services for newly arrived migrants from asylum seeker backgrounds and, more recently, in providing food relief to marginalised communities affected by COVID. He is also involved in the South Asian theatre in Melbourne. Deepak holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.

Gabrielle Marchetti

Having served on the Board of the ECCV as a co-opted member since May 2023, I am now throwing my hat in the ring for the upcoming elections and I humbly ask for your support and your vote.

I was born in Italy and I migrated to Australia when I was 9. I was involved in a grassroots campaign to establish Melbourne’s first Italian bilingual primary school and I am currently the Vice President of the Committee of Italians Abroad in Victoria and Tasmania (ComItEs Vic & Tas). I was also recently appointed to the role of Victorian Multicultural Commissioner, which I see as an immense privilege and a very special opportunity to champion the rights and needs of multicultural and multi-faith communities across Victoria.

I have always had a passion for social justice and workers’ rights and fortunately I have been able to carve out a career as a community lawyer in a not-for-profit community legal centre whose purpose it is to support and protect the employment rights of vulnerable workers, especially those most disadvantaged, including temporary visa holders and other migrant workers.

My desire to make a positive contribution to my community has led me, over the years, to volunteer in a number of exceptional organisations including the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Fitzroy Legal Service, a women’s domestic violence shelter, an aboriginal legal service in Port Augusta, and with the International Humanitarian Law team of the Australian Red Cross.

I would bring with me – if elected – my personal values of integrity and accountability, my professional expertise, and my lived experiences, not only as a first generation migrant but also as a mother of children who were born in Australia with parents from two different countries, with different languages, cultures and traditions.

If elected, I will strive to:

1. Promote cultural representation so that all ethnic communities have a voice in decision making processes, policies, and programs;

2. Actively engage with ECCV’s members and government bodies to build meaningful relationships and advocate for inclusive policies and practices;

3. Apply an intercultural and intersectional lens in bridging any gaps that exist due to generational, cultural and/or linguistic differences.

Your vote will make a difference to the future of the ECCV and I hope we will work together.

Jenny Matic

I am Croatian-born and migrated to Australia with my parents in 1970. We fled in the wake of great civil unrest that was the Croatian spring, and to flee religious persecution. We landed at Sydney airport with no money, no English, and little more than the clothes on our backs.

My parents did come with a hunger and drive to work hard, with a burning hope of a good education and a good future for me, and a hope to be able to live in peace and harmony.

This experience and all its challenges is what binds me to you – and us to every other person that has travelled the same road – which is about half the people living in our wonderful state.

The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) is the voice to governments and key decision makers for people like us. I believe this is important, necessary and worthy, ethical work.

I have had the great privilege of serving as a Board member of the ECCV and would consider it an honour to continue to serve – to advocate for, to empower and to strive for equality of opportunity for multicultural Victorians.

Professionally, I am a partner in a small business, have served at senior levels in the public service, have served as a Senior Ministerial adviser, and at Executive and CEO levels on the national stage. I have served as a non-executive director in the non-for-profit sector for almost 20 years in the health, aged care and multicultural sectors, and am a former Victorian Multicultural Commissioner.

I would be honoured to put my skills and passion to use to continue to serve the ECCV and humbly ask for your vote.

Eddie Micallef

Eddie Micallef is the current Chairperson of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV), the peak policy and advocacy body representing diverse multicultural communities in Victoria. Eddie was previously the Chairperson of ECCV’s Drugs Task Force and Convenor of its Health Policy Sub-committee.

He served in Victorian Parliament from 1983 to 1999 as the Member for Springvale with responsibilities covering Health, Industrial Relations, Work Cover and Multicultural Affairs. Eddie has a professional background in Engineering and Occupational Health, where he supported policy programs enabling culturally diverse communities to respond to the drug and alcohol challenge. He has represented the ECCV on various Government and community bodies, supporting social cohesion and policy development among multicultural communities. Eddie has worked to give the ECCV the status and respect it is held in the community today.

Jill Morgan

Jill currently serves as Deputy Chair on the Boards of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia. She has also served as the acting Executive Officer of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria. She is a director on the Board of The Australian Arts Orchestra and Sacred Currents Music Festival. She is deeply committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all Australians, including newly emerged artists and communities and the right of all Australians to express and share their stories and cultural heritage through the arts.

Jill is a former Chief Executive Officer of Multicultural Arts Victoria and Executive Director of Kulcha, Multicultural Arts of Western Australia. Jill is an active advocate and cultural and community leader in multiculturalism and the arts.

She is currently working closely with First Nations artists and produced a First Nations work MEERTA for the Yirramboi Festival 2023. She has worked with Moondani Balluk Indigenous Unit and co-created “A Fight for Survival” with the Northland mob, built around the Foley Collection from the Aboriginal history archive for the Yirramboi Festival 2021. She is keen for the ECCV to bring our multicultural communities together with our First Nations community to build greater understanding and create a better community for all.

Her leadership and strategic acuity has been recognised through significant leadership awards in the arts, including: the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, which pays tribute to outstanding excellence in the Arts in Australia, Member Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the promotion of multicultural and indigenous art through leadership roles in arts organisations, and has received several Victorian Government Excellence Awards for her work in multiculturalism.

Richard Ogetii*

Richard is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya with over 20 years experience and an Australian Solicitor with several years experience in criminal law practice, with special focus on counterterrorism, anti-money laundering and organised crime.

Similarly, Richard has a deep passion for community service and delights is using his legal background and understanding to advocate for and support disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the society.

Upon relocating from Kenya to Australia in 2017, Richard was moved by the plight of humanitarian entrants in his community who were struggling to integrate into their new home due to multifaceted reasons including lack of language on their part and inadequate cultural understanding by service providers. Richard decided to volunteer in the settlement of refugees in Albury Wodonga. He subsequently took on the role of Community Executive Officer at the Albury Wodonga Ethnic Community Council where he has advocated on several issues impacting multicultural communities and initiated several innovative projects to fast track the integration of new humanitarian migrants such as in-language driving program, community sports induction for girls, a youth mentorship program, leadership training for community leaders, and building resilience of the multicultural communities to deal with diverse emergencies.

Richard is actively involved with leaders of regional Ethnic Communities Councils. If nominated, Richard is keen to represent the issues affecting the multicultural community members living in regional Victoria, in addition to other common issues affecting the Victorian multicultural communities.

Kenny Tran

Kenny is the Vice President of the Whittlesea Multicultural Community Council. He has been actively involved in advocating for multicultural communities for more than seven years. In addition to the WMCC, Kenny has worked with ECCV and FECCA through the Intercultural Young Advocacy Leaders Program. He participated in consultations for policy development and as a presenter at the FECCA Conference.

Kenny has worked in with diverse communities such as the Vietnamese Community of Australia – Victorian Chapter, participating and delivering the Dual Identity Leadership Program aimed at helping young people of CALD background foster their leadership skills. Kenny graduated with a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce, works in family violence and as Family Law lawyer.

Kenny is a collaborative individual and has worked professionally with migrants and refugees at a legal policy advocacy level, as a Policy Lawyer for Moonee Valley Legal Service. In that role, Kenny was worked closely with the vibrant and multicultural African communities living in public housing addressing issues such as housing, criminal, family and civil issues.

As a lawyer, Kenny brings with him critical thinking and problem solving skills, a passion for advocacy and strong sense of social justice. In his practise as a family violence and family law solicitor, Kenny is passionate about advocating for those who are disadvantaged and experiencing hardship.

Kenny is interested in joining the ECCV because he has aims to contribute positively to the multicultural fabric of Victoria, promoting diversity and inclusivity, fostering cross cultural harmony and growth and empower individuals from all walks of life. Kenny seeks to contribute to a better and more inclusive Victoria. Kenny is a full supporter and advocate of First Nations rights and hopes to empower multicultural communities to embrace and acknowledge the importance of our First Peoples.

Minwen Wu

I hold a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Laws degree. I am bilingual, proficient in both Chinese and English. I have resided in China for 35 years and Melbourne for 21 years, gaining diverse life experiences. I have worked in various roles and am passionate about actively contributing to the community.

From 2012 to 2019, I consecutively served as a member of the school councils for Dandenong West Primary School, Dandenong North Primary School, and Dandenong High School. Additionally, from 2017 to 2019, I was a member of the Cultural Heritage Committee and later the Multicultural Committee of the City of Greater Dandenong. I also ran as a candidate for the City of Greater Dandenong Council election in 2016 and the Whitehorse City Council election in 2020.

In late 2020, I founded English Corners (EC) Australia and CAN-Chinese Australian Network Inc. The EC initiative has been running weekly since its inception, providing invaluable assistance to Chinese migrants in improving their English language skills. Our “English Corner / Language Exchange / Community Conversation” project was among the initial recipients of the Victorian government’s SRL-Community Projects Fund. It received the Caroline Chisholm Award in 2022 and the Deakin Community Award in 2023. I also initiated the monthly CCR-Chinese Community Roundtable at Box Hill.

To date, we have successfully conducted five CCR meetings since June 2, 2023, facilitating meaningful discussions among Chinese organisations, mainstream organisations, Council officers, Councillors, and MPs. CAN has been officially registered as a charity with the ACNC. I am eager to contribute further to the representation of the Chinese community and promote cross-cultural bonds and networking between the Chinese community and the broader ethnic Victorians.