The Settlement Services Advisory Council (SSAC)

The Settlement Services Advisory Council (formerly known as the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council) is a body appointed by the Minister for Social Services that provides advice to the government on migrant settlement and social cohesion, including humanitarian settlement.

The Council is chaired by Mr Paris Aristotle AO.


The Council provides advice to the Government on strengthening social cohesion through the successful settlement of migrants and humanitarian entrants into the Australian community, through maximising social and economic participation. The Council will also focus on program and service delivery and maximising the participation of migrants and humanitarian entrants through improved English language, employment and education outcomes, including for the additional 12,000 people who will be resettled in Australia and who are fleeing the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

The Council's appointment extends to 16 December 2017.


Name Background

Mr Paris Aristotle AO

Mr Aristotle is Director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture. He has been a member of SSAC since its inception, and currently chairs the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention (MCASD). In 2002 Mr Aristotle was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003 was awarded an Australian Centenary Medal – both honours for services to the community through the development of an Australian network of services to assist refugees, particularly survivors of torture and trauma, and to assist their integration into the community. He has been a regular presenter and contributor to UNHCR meetings and publications over many years.

Ms Gail Ker OAM
Deputy Chair

Ms Ker is Chief Executive Officer of Access Community Services Limited. She has worked extensively in multicultural affairs positions and is presently a board member of the Ethnic Communities Council in Queensland. Ms Ker is also Deputy Chair of the Logan and Redlands Regional Development Australia Board. In 2010, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the multicultural community of Queensland.

Ms Carmel Guerra OAM

Ms Guerra is founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Multicultural Youth, a Victorian not-for-profit organisation supporting young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to build better lives in Australia. Ms Guerra also convenes the national Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network and is a member of the Victorian Youth Parole Board and the Victorian Children’s Council. In 2016, Ms Guerra was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to multicultural youth in Victoria. In 2003, she was presented with a Centenary Medal for services to young people, migrant and refugee communities and in 2005 was appointed to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

Ms Carmen Garcia

Ms Garcia is Principal and founder of Community Corporate, boosting the organisational profile, productivity and opportunities for both the private and community sector. As the former Director of Multicultural Youth South Australia (MYSA), Ms Garcia led policy and practice reforms for young refugees at a national level and continues to have current involvement in settlement related research, development, policy and practice. She has received numerous awards including; South Australian Young Achiever Award Winner for Community Service; International Women’s Day Irene Bell – Community Achievement Award; and the Governor's Multicultural Awards.

Dr Mohammed Al Salami AM

Dr Al Salami is the President of the Australian Iraqi Muslim Society. Previously Dr Alsalami was the Senior Pathology Scientist working at the Royal North Shore Hospital NSW. In 2003 Dr Al Salami was a recipient of the Centenary Medal selected by the former Prime Minister John Howard, In 2010; he was made a member of the Order of Australia for services to the community, particularly through roles assisting refugees and migrants. He has continued to work intensively as a human rights activist, liaising with the Australian government and the wider community for the past three decades.

Mr Abeselom Nega

Mr Nega is Chief Executive Officer of iEmpower. Previously, Mr Nega was the State and General Manager of AMES Employment and has served as a senior executive in both the public and private sectors. Mr Nega has served as the Chairperson of the Federation of African Communities Council and he is a Commissioner of the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC). Mr Nega is also the current Chair of the Melbourne Employment Forum (MEF), an organisation working to create employment opportunities to refugees and migrants.

Ms Maha Abdo OAM

Ms Abdo is a widely respected Muslim woman activist, serving on many advisory committees, and respected by all groups that she works with. Ms Abdo has worked in the social welfare field for nearly three decades and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, a Masters in Social Science, majoring in Young People and Children's Studies, and a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution. She is the Executive Officer of the United Muslim Women Association, which has been supporting, nurturing and representing Muslim women and their families for over 30 years. In 2008, Ms Abdo was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Muslim community in Western Sydney, particularly in the areas of Muslim women's leadership training, social justice and interfaith dialogue.

Ms Cath Scarth

Ms Scarth is Chief Executive Officer of Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES). She has over 20 years experience in designing, implementing and evaluating a range of innovative social programs and enterprises. Prior to her appointment as CEO at AMES, Ms Scarth was General Manager Of Community and Policy, driving innovation in partnerships with employers, government and the community sector to achieve positive employment and settlement outcomes for newly arrived migrants and refugees.

Ms Melissa Monteiro

Ms Monteiro is Executive Director of the Community Migrant Resource Centre. Ms Monteiro joined the Community Migrant Resource Centre in 2000 and has over twenty five years’ experience in the community sector. She advocates for and has developed services for vulnerable and at risk communities and individuals in both a professional and voluntary capacity. Her special areas of expertise includes building the capacity of small and emerging communities, leadership skills development, women and youth mentoring, working with people from non-English speaking backgrounds, culturally diverse communities, refugees and humanitarian entrants and families in crisis and women.

Ms Violet Roumeliotis

Ms Violet Roumeliotis is the CEO of Settlement Services International, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support services to refugees, asylum seekers, people with disability and children from CALD backgrounds who require foster care and job seekers. Ms Roumeliotis has an extensive background in the leadership of large not-for-profit organisations. Ms Roumeliotis was named in Pro Bono Australia’s 2014 and 2015 lists of the 25 most influential people working in the not-for-profit sector.

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