Our people

Organisational Structure

The Board

The Board is the governing body of Diaspora Action Australia, made up of seven elected members.

Chair Hala Abdelnour
Deputy Chair Andrew Hewett
Treasurer Jamie Han Chu
Secretary Joe Selvaretnam
Member Nuran Higgins

Denise Cauchi

Executive Director, Diaspora Action Australia

Denise Cauchi is the Executive Director and founder of Diaspora Action Australia.

Denise is a human rights and development advocate and practitioner, with a particular focus on armed conflict. She has worked in protective accompaniment in Colombia with Peace Brigades International, and as human rights researcher with a Colombian women’s NGO. She has also held positions with Oxfam Australia and the Human Rights Alliance of Australia.

Denise is a member of the Board of the Australian Council for International Development and the International Council of Peace Brigades International.

She has been a human-rights activist for over 25 years, in Australia, Spain, Timor-Leste and India.

Denise has a Master of Development Studies (University of Melbourne).

Before all this, she was a journalist.

Hala Abdelnour


Hala is the Director of Global Echo Consultants Pty Ltd and a Vincent Fairfax Fellow since 2008. Her career interest is in the areas of international relations, leadership and community empowerment. She aims to provide quality and excellence in service delivery and to achieve greater global equality among diverse populations. This includes developing and maintaining strong relationships with various communities and agencies. Hala is well travelled, multi-skilled and multilingual with a love for creativity and innovation. She is passionate about social issues that involve respect for our planet and all living things.

Andrew Hewett

Deputy Chair

Andrew is a PH.D candidate in international relations at LaTrobe University and works as a sessional university lecturer.

He worked at Oxfam Australia for nearly 22 years, including over 11 years as Executive Director (CEO) finishing up at the end of 2012.

He visited Oxfam programs across the world, including in Africa, South Asia, the Pacific, Central America, South East Asia as welll as Aboriginal Australia.

Andrew has extensive international advocacy experience, was a member of the World Bank-NGO Committee for four years and has participated in and observed numerous international conferences, including those of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank.

Andrew was a member of the Executive Committee of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the peak council of non-government international development agencies, for over 10 years. He was also Co-Chair of the Make Poverty History Campaign and was a member of the BHP Billiton Forum for Corporate Responsibility for more than a decade.

Jamie Han Chu


Jamie is a finance professional with many years of experience in commercial, government and not for profit organisations. Jamie is a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) and has a Masters of International Development. Her experience ranges across many countries and continents including Australia, the United Kingdom, Africa and Asia. In 2011 she helped establish her own not for profit organisation called FEED which supports food, environment and economic issues in Nepal. Jamie is a strong advocate for community engagement and is committed to social rights and equity.

Lisa Vettori


Lisa comes to the board with broad skills in community engagement, evaluation, program management and communications. She has worked locally with diverse cultural communities on community development projects, and internationally with women’s human rights groups and social justice programs in Timor Leste, Bangladesh, India and Fiji. She has a particular interest in contributing to and evaluating social movement building and advocacy change programs, and supporting grassroots groups to implement projects for change. Lisa was a staff member of Diaspora Action Australia for three and a half years as Community Engagement Coordinator, where she worked closely with many diaspora community organisations and activists in their work to promote peace, development and human rights. Joining the board has enabled Lisa to continue her commitment to the vision of Diaspora Action Australia. Lisa holds a Master of Social Science in International Development, a Graduate Certificate in Program Evaluation and a Bachelor of Business in Communications.

Operational Team

The Operational Team is made up of paid and unpaid staff who manage Diaspora Action Australia’s day-to-day operations:

Executive Director: Denise Cauchi
Volunteer Coordinator:  Sanne de Swart
Community Engagement Coordinator: Sandra Chestnutt
Office Support: Erandi Navarathne
Communications Coordinator: Lulu Jemimah
Resource Mobilisation Team: Maeghan Cobbin and Pallavi Singhal


Our dedicated volunteers work in the following teams: Communications, Community Engagement,  IT & Office Management and Resource Mobilisation.