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 Settlement Services Advisory Council

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.


Name Background

Mr Paris Aristotle AO

Mr Aristotle AO is the Chief Executive Officer 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 appointed 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. In 2017, Mr Aristotle was appointed an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Mr Aristotle was also awarded the 2017 Victorian Australian of the Year.

Ms Gail Ker OAM
Deputy Chair

Ms Ker OAM is Chief Executive Officer of Access Community Services Limited. She has worked extensively in multicultural affairs positions. Ms Ker is a board member of both Migration Council Australia and the Settlement Council of Australia. Ms Ker has received many awards, including the 2017 Telstra Queensland for Purpose and Social Enterprise Award, the 2017 Australian Migration and Settlement Awards Empowering Women Award and the 2016 Women’s Federation of World Peace, Ambassador for Peace Award. In 2010 Ms Ker 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.

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 is a member of the African Ministerial Working Group VIC and a member of the Melbourne Employment Forum (MEF), an organisation working to create employment opportunities for refugees and migrants.

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 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. In 2017, Ms Roumeliotis was awarded the Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year and 2017 Australian for Purpose and Social Enterprise Award for NSW. 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.

Mr Christopher Thorn AM

Mr Christopher Thorn is a partner within the Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice with Ernst & Young. Mr Thorn is a financial services executive who has 30 years’ experience working across private wealth institutions and philanthropy issues. Mr Thorn is a board member of Impact Investing Australia and the Australian Advisory Board to the G8 Impact Investment Taskforce.

Mr John Cameron

Mr John Cameron is one of the pioneers of electronic trading. He was a member of the team that wrote one of the world's first fully automated trading systems for the Australian Stock Exchange in 1987. In 2006 he sold his company Cameron Systems, creator of a market leading electronic trading technology, and founded Cameron Foundation which supports initiatives in the areas of health, education, human rights and disaster relief. He joined the board of international technology company, IRESS, in 2010. He also serves on the board of the global refugee employment initiative, Talent Beyond Boundaries, for whom he works full time on a pro bono basis.

Ms Kerrin Benson

Ms Kerrin Benson is Chief Executive Officer, Multicultural Development Australia (MDA) Ltd. Ms Benson has previously held senior roles in Government and non-Government organisations. Ms Benson is Chair, BITA Community Reference Group and a board member of the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention in the Home Affairs Portfolio, Inclusive Brisbane Board, Multicultural Queensland Advisory Council and Deputy Chair of Connect Settlement Services.

Ms Carla Wilshire OAM

Carla Wilshire is the Chief Executive Officer of the Migration Council Australia. Ms Wilshire is co-founder of the MCA Friendly Nation Initiative and Deputy Chair of the Migrant and Refugee Women’s Health Partnership. Ms Wilshire is also a member of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity, Council of Harmony Alliance, National Anti-Racism Partnership and the Commonwealth Bank External Advisory Council. Ms Wilshire was previously the Chief of Staff to the Hon Kate Lundy and Parliamentary Secretary the Hon Laurie Ferguson. In 2018, Ms Wilshire was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to migration and refugee support services.

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