Our people

Diaspora Action Australia’s 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
Members Aarathi Krishnan, Karen Medica, Mustafa Najib & Lisa Vettori

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


A lover of languages, people and creativity, Hala has lived, travelled and worked in approx. 50 countries. She has participated in event management, sales, teaching and development. Hala is the founder and director of Global Echo Consultants, a change agency focusing on effective strategy, diversity and collaboration; she joined the Diaspora Action Australia Board in 2014 as a member and was elected its Chair in 2016.Trained in Psychology and Social Work, Hala has a strong work ethic and seeks to share ideas and knowledge that allow people to grow together through their working relationships. She has dedicated her career to working with diverse populations and exploring innovative business practice and effective behaviour change processes.

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.

Karen Medica


Karen joined the Board in 2016 and brings to DAA skills and experience working across cultures in many countries across the Asia-Pacific region.
Karen’s doctoral study focused on intercultural identity and foreign aid scholarships. She has worked with a number of international not-for-profits and recently served as a former DFAT Disaster Risk Management expert in the Pacific.
Karen is keen to assist DAA in accessing grants and using her research, monitoring and evaluation skills. Karen’s research interests relate to intercultural learning and the role of Diaspora in disaster response. She is a proud mother to three daughters and recently grandmother of two.

Mustafa Najib


Mustafa works as community worker, interpreter/translator, and international aid worker.
He has worked in Australia’s aid programs and with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Australia.

Himself a former asylum seeker who was rescued by the Tampa in 2001 and was detained in Nauru for two years, he has lived in Australia on Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) for years before becoming a Permanent Resident.
Mustafa has a BA in International Studies and a Masters in Asian Studies.

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: Ganjij Amendi
Communications Coordinator: Fiorenzo Polito
Resource Mobilisation Team: Sherryn Bowker


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