Influencer of the year winner

Bashar Hanna

Australian Mesopotamian Cultural Association

Bashar graduated from the University of Technology, Baghdad in 1992 with a BSc in Building and Construction Engineering and an MSc in Construction Management in 1995. In 1998, he migrated to Australia where he sought further study and professional training in a myriad of disciplines. He worked in the business sector for 7 years and acquired a Diploma of Business (Real Estate Management). In 2007, he graduated with a Post-grad. Diploma in Adult Education from Western Sydney University. In 2008, he joined the IHSS Program as a Case Coordinator. For 3 years, Bashar worked intensively with newly-arrived refugees, exposed to continuous struggles in resettlement. His passion to help others returned him to WSU, obtaining his Masters of Social Science in 2011. Following graduation, Bashar joined the Department of Education. In parallel to Bashar’s professional experience, he was deeply involved with arts and community cultural development projects in the South Western Sydney region. In 2014, he established an Arts and Community Development Centre which tackles social challenges faced by diverse emerging Australian communities. In 2018, Bashar became a Community Fellow of WSU and in 2019, he established The Australian Mesopotamian Cultural Association. On the queen’s birthday 2021, Bashar was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his long and distinguished service to multiculturalism and refugee support in Western Sydney.  

Influencer of the year FINALISTS

John Perry OAM

The Perry Group

After many years in the public and community sectors, John Perry has made significant contributions to the third sector through employment initiatives and social enterprises around Australia. John is the Principal of the Perry Group where he focuses on providing employment opportunities to those experiencing difficulties in obtaining a job. In 2019, John was awarded an Order of Australia Medal, OAM, for his contribution to the community through long term involvement in activities and organisations that make a difference to the lives of people through such employment and economic development initiatives. John also has a long history of Board membership of not-for-profit organisations. In 2021, John was further recognised through the awarding of a “Life Fellow of the National Employment Services Association” for his contribution to the employment services industry. Currently, John is Settlement Services International (SSI) Group’s Employment Facilitator for the Federal Government’s Local Jobs Program in the Wivenhoe Region developing employment solutions at a local level to support the Australian community back to work.

Kathy Karatasas

Multicultural Child and Family Program

Kathy, a second-generation migrant has worked extensively in child protection, adolescent and women’s health, early intervention and foster care services.

Kathy has a strong commitment to driving services which influence positive wellbeing outcomes. She is a strong advocate for collaborative leadership in influencing sector and community improvements, especially for children, young people and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Kathy is a dedicated, passionate, collaborative leader who values comprehensive strategic and service design, nurturing partnerships across all levels of organisations, collecting and sharing practice wisdom and respectfully showcasing team contributions.

In 2015 Kathy joined Settlement Services International to nurture and lead the then new multicultural foster care program. The program is now recognised as a sector lead in culturally responsive and evidence-based practice, influencing government and non-government agencies.

Kathy is an Executive Director of the NSW Association of Child Welfare Agencies (ACWA), a member of sector advisory committees and tertiary research initiatives.

Kathy’s qualifications include Masters in Social Work, Diploma in Adult Education and Public Sector Management. Her community contributions include 20 years of school community executive roles including the introduction of student recognition initiatives for vulnerable primary students.

Christine Castley

Multicultural Australia

Christine is an experienced senior executive leader, with substantial expertise in organisational transformation and change management, strategic governance, project management, policy, community engagement, operations and service delivery. She was previously Deputy Director-General in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Housing and Public Works. Christine is a passionate advocate for equal access to justice and services for everyone regardless of their gender, beliefs or circumstances, and to doing everything possible to help the most disadvantaged people in our community, including refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, to live in safety and to go about their lives free from danger or harm.

Dr Donna Odegaard AM

First Nations Broadcasting Australia

Dr Donna Odegaard, Elder, Larrakia Traditional Owner Darwin NT, Doctor of Letters, PhD, Order of Australia, Lifetime Leadership Award Sir John Storey, Founder/Owner Aboriginal Broadcasting Australia, Naming/Commissioning Lady HMAS Larrakia, Director Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, Indigenous Reference Group Ministerial Forum Developing Northern Australia, Deputy Chair National Centre for Indigenous Excellence.