A number of new directors were welcomed to the Settlement Services International Board Annual General Meeting, while three stepped down, including long-term Chair Kamalle Dabboussy.
SSI Board: Lou Bacchiella, Elfa Moraitakis, Antoinette Chow, Yung Ngo, Clement Meru, Chair Elizabeth Shaw and Lucy Taksa.
Leading the new Board is Elisabeth Shaw, who was appointed Chair, while new directors include SydWest Multicultural Services CEO Elfa Moraitakis and Core Community Services Manager Multicultural Communities Clement Meru from SSI’s member organisations. Senior Westpac executive Yung Ngo was also welcomed as an independent Board director.
They join current members Metro Assist CEO Lou Bacchiella, Professor and Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Business and Economics at Macquarie University, Lucy Taksa and Advance Community Services CEO Antoinette Chow.
Also, stepping down this year is Louise Petschler from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and former director of SydWest Multicultural Services, Om Dhungel.
Mr Dabboussy, who has been a member of the SSI Board for six years and SSI Chair for five years, said it was a personal highlight to have led the Board during a period of meteoric growth and development.
SSI achieved several major milestones under Mr Dabboussy’s chairmanship including a change to the company structure, increased partnership with members, continued international humanitarian work, and Sydney’s selection as the host for the 2018 International Metropolis Conference.
"Under the stewardship of the evolving and developing board, I am sure SSI’s success will continue and I wish the organisation every success in the future," Mr Dabboussy said in his final report.
Acting RCOA CEO Tim O’Connor, SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis, Allianz Group Manager HR Tim Dawson, former SSI Board directors Om Dhungel and Kamalle Dabboussy, new Chair Elizabeth Shaw, and directors Lucy Taksa, Antoinette Shaw and Lou Bacchiella.
Speaking at the AGM, acting RCOA CEO Tim O’Connor made a special mention of the 'vital' role of humanitarian settlement organisations such as SSI in improving the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.
"I congratulate SSI on their wonderful achievements in successfully resettling so many people into Sydney and NSW. Giving people the opportunity to rebuild their lives is an enormous privilege and also an enormous responsibility," he said.
Allianz Group Manager HR Tim Dawson also highlighted the benefits of workplace diversity as he discussed the SSI and Allianz partnership, which has seen seven recruits from refugee backgrounds begin full time work with the insurer in 2016.
"The SSI and Allianz partnership isn’t about charity; it’s about business. Workplace diversity is good for business, and it mirrors the community we live and work in," he said. "We’re hiring great talent and we take great pride in what we’re achieving."
In a third address, the State Member for Canterbury Sophie Cotsis MP described Australia as a “settlement nation” and stressed the need to support migrants and refugees to secure the nation’s future.
"Diversity is part of the global trade; we’re trading knowledge. We have so many rich cultures and should be proud that we speak over 200 languages. We are a model nation for diversity," she said.