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Scholarship Recipients

Joanna Abrahams

2023-24 Scholarship recipient Women's Leadership Program

Joanna Abraham is a Lecturer at the College of Law and the Vice President of Victorian Women Lawyers (VWL), the peak representative body for women lawyers in Victoria. She has practiced extensively in Administrative, Immigration & Refugee Law, both in private and community legal practice, working with clients from a variety of ethnic backgrounds (refugees and asylum seekers, victims of family violence, and those facing the prospect of visa cancellation or deportation).


Joanna has recently been recognised as one of Australia's 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians. She is listed as one of Australia’s leading lawyers in Human Rights Law 2024 and was also previously Highly Commended with the Justice Award at the 2020 Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence for her work in this space. Being a migrant herself, Joanna is passionate about championing diversity, both in the legal profession and wider community and is also an advocate for greater workplace flexibility in the legal profession due to her own chronic health struggles with endometriosis. She sits on the Board of Afri-Aus Care (AAC), a not-for-profit community service organization supporting CALD communities in Australia, advising on legal and policy issues in relation to migration law and family violence issues, and is a firm believer that grassroots community needs should be the guiding force at all echelons of decision making. 


As Vice President of VWL, she leads strategic initiatives; both across the sector and across a variety of teams and committees to promote gender equity and diversity; overseeing events and projects relating to mentorship, community engagement, sexual harassment and justice issues pertaining to women. 

Outside of leadership and the law, Joanna is a massive foodie with a love of spicy food and desserts (it's the Singaporean Indian in her!), a singer and an avid watcher of Korean TV shows. 

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Rakhi Khanna

Scholarship recipient

Rakhi Khanna is a board member of Free Kindergarten Association Children's services (fkaCS) in the capacity of Honorary Treasurer. fkaCS is in its 114th year and continues to advocate for children's cultural and linguistic rights with a vision for all children to actively participate in quality education and care services that recognise, value, and embed difference and diversity.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are close to Rakhi's heart and she is committed to make a difference for CALD communities and ensuring children have Best start to life. She is passionate of promoting Bilingualism and Multilingualism in the society and herself can speak 4 different Indian languages.

Rakhi migrated to Australia as a permanent resident in 2008 with her husband and young daughter. Having experienced firsthand, the enormous effort to be the voice advocating for embracing Diversity and celebrating differences for her daughter at Kindergarten and school journey was the catalyst to choosing the path in her professional career.

With over 15 years of experience in Education and community sector across not-for-profit organisation, Department of education and local government, Rakhi is an Early years subject matter expert and takes pride in leading projects such as Bilingual storytime, Intergenerational programs, facilitating Cultural Responsive workshops at statewide conferences and sharing stories of Refugee and Asylum Seeker through leading a Beyond Borders project.



Rosie Thyer

Scholarship recipient

Rosie Thyer is the chairperson of Culture Spring, a youth-led social enterprise that aims to transform organisations, institutions, and workplaces to make them more inclusive and culturally safe for Australia’s young multicultural community.
Rosie has extensive experience working in local government, evaluating council engagement with young people as well as advocating for equity and equality within academic settings. She also works for the Victorian Multicultural Commission in their Multicultural Youth Network and feels strongly about issues of tokenism and ethical engagement. She often engages in youth advised arenas and other community platforms, believing young people must be at the forefront of decision making.
She is studying a Bachelor of Law (Honours) and Global Studies at Monash University and hopes to incorporate social justice and human rights with policy reform in the future. Rosie acknowledges that her upbringing in Melbourne has allowed her to utilise the opportunities that present themselves and uses her privilege for better.

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Richa Bhutani

Scholarship recipient

Ms. Richa Bhutani is a Board member at Saraswati Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship, which is a not-for-profit organization serving local and international communities. She has helped oversee the planning and implementation of various international programs aimed at promoting awareness of refugees’ and women’s rights. Ms. Bhutani has completed a bachelors (in India) and masters in biomedical engineering (at the University of Melbourne, Australia). 


Ms. Bhutani works in quality assurance and regulatory affairs for medical devices. Through collaboration and support from Cald2lead, she envisions being able to complement her technical and professional skills with community leadership and social reform, to contribute towards the development of medical technologies sensitive to the diverse needs of users,
carers, communities and cultures.

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Scholarship recipient

Bettina has been passionate about volunteering since permanently settling in Australia in 2000 helping out at church, school and sports club initiatives over the years. Since 2008 she has been on the board of the German Lutheran Trinity Church in East Melbourne. Starting off with portfolios for church events, Sunday School and family ministry she has developed a strong commitment to bring the German-speaking community in Melbourne together and offer them a home-away-from-home by supporting them in all walks of life. The German Lutheran Trinity Church can look back over a
150-year-old history welcoming new and old immigrants and is supporting and servicing them in a meaningful and compassionate way. It is financially independent while being an official outpost of the Lutheran Church of Germany (EKD).


Since 2018 Bettina has been the treasurer of the church and with the chair, vice-chair and pastor forms the executive team on the board. She also leads the Finance Committee of the church. Her varied responsibilities include the church finances as well as all H/R matters of the church, the corporate governance oversight and reporting to the Australian and German authorities besides many other issues that small Not-for-profit organisations are faced with.


The CALD2LEAD scholarship for the Certified Community Director’s course offered by ICDA will provide her not only with a stronger foundation for the many challenges that her role entails but will also help her to apply this to future leadership positions she is hoping to pursue. Especially the advancement of women from a German-speaking or any migrant background to find meaningful engagement including appropriate employment in Australia thus overcoming isolation and
disconnectedness and becoming valued contributors to Australian society is an area that she feels passionate about and where she would like to make a positive impact.

Youna Kim

Scholarship recipient

Youna Kim is a Board Director of Lucy’s Project, a national peak body working to improve access to supports for people and animals experiencing domestic and family violence. She firmly believes everyone has a role to play in stopping and preventing family violence. Family violence is alarmingly prevalent as police attend a family violence incident every six minutes in Victoria yet still hidden and ignored. Pets are often the easiest and forgotten targets in family violence therefore bringing vets, family violence practitioners and policymakers together is an important step towards streamlining responses that safeguard the victim survivors with pets.


With over 25-year professional experience base focused on leadership, strategy and innovation in social work and corporate business, Youna Kim demonstrates an enduring commitment to sustainable outcomes whilst upholding values of social justice, cultural sensitivity, gender equality and equity. 


Youna received 2020 Alumni of the Year Award in International Contribution at Australian Catholic University. She holds Bachelor of Arts, Master of Social Work (MSW), and Master of Business Administration (MBA). She has recently completed Governance Foundations for Not-for-Profit Directors Course at Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

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Lan Diep

Lan Diep is a Regional Advisory Council Member with the Victorian Multicultural Commission, change practitioner with Neami National, passionate volunteer with Vietnamese Scouts Australia and Initiatives of Change (global movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds), and multicultural storyteller through the professional network LinkedIn. Below is more on Lan’s story in her own words:


Born in Vietnam. Belongs in Australia.

“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us.”

--Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese zen master and peace activist


As a first-generation Vietnamese refugee and immigrant to Australia since the late 70’s, my lived experience acknowledges and honours my history of adapting to a new place, a new culture, a new language and a new peoples. It’s been a tremendous change process and these words are borne not only through experiences with my family, but for many CALD communities learning to integrate to changing environments. These words are alive in me and speak to feelings of risk and vulnerability and also to the ways that change forces positive adaptations.


I am honoured to be selected for the scholarship from CALD2Lead for the diploma of governance, as it seems to me that Thich Nhat Hanh’s words speaks to this understanding that our internal changes are reflected in our words and deeds. Wise governance would be born from this kind of understanding. 

On most days, I continue to adapt to ‘change’ in a values-based organisation that aims to be a voice and space for personal, community & societal wellbeing. On other days, I explore and find timeless interconnections between ecology, culture, and spirituality. Inspired, these experiences are synthesised by creating haikus (poetry) which speak to the heart of being a Vietnamese-Australian in Naarm (Melbourne). 

Scholarship recipient

Florence Dato

Scholarship recipient

Florence Dato is the Co-founder and Vice President of The Empowered Australian Multicultural Society; Co-Founder and President of Association of Filipino-Australian Generation of Inspiring Leaders; and the Co-Founder and Director of Philippine-Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

She is a member of various advisory committees such as the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Regional Advisory Council for North-West Metro Region; the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, New and Emerging Policy Advisory Committee; and the Wyndham People’s Advisory Panel to name a few.

She is also an advocate of workers’ rights and safety through her work at Victorian Trades Hall Council. She also participated in WorkSafe Victoria’s first most inclusive and wide-reaching multicultural campaign to date, “Workplace Safety is our Common Language.” She is currently working as a community organiser at Migrant Workers Centre empowering migrant workers and their families to realise the collective power of their communities to win dignity and respect at work and to fight for a fairer society.

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Scholarship recipient

Nasreen Rahman

Nasreen (Winnie) Rahman from the Burmese Welfare Association is our 2022 Scholarship recipient. Winnie is currently the treasurer (executive member) for the Burmese Welfare Association Victoria. 


Through her role in the Burmese Welfare Association, Winnie brings together different ethnic and religious groups to work together to meet common goals like bringing support groups from other countries to help the people of Burma. This includes  American, Sudanese, Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese communities to help with fundraising to support the Burmese people in Myanmar.

Congratulations Winnie on securing your scholarship against some tough competition! CALD2LEAD is excited to be working with Winnie and the Burmese Community in 2022 and beyond!

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Scholarship recipient

Margarita Rojas

Margarita Rojas is our 2021 Scholarship recipient and is currently undertaking a Diploma in Governance at the Institute of Community Directors Australia.


CALD2LEAD is co-funding Margarita’s Diploma in proud partnership with the Institute of Community Directors Australia, Spanish Window Community Services (Ventana Hispana), & Margarita herself.


Margarita is the 3rd recipient of funding support from CALD2LEAD and is dedicated to empowering the Australian Hispanic community in Melbourne’s South East. This Diploma in Governance will not just help Margarita’s own leadership journey, it will also help deliver her passion to strengthen the governance at the not-for-profit Spanish Window Community Services where she has volunteered for over 10 years. 


CALD2LEAD continues to focus on providing multicultural leaders like Margarita the top quality leadership and development programs they deserve.


We congratulate Margarita and look forward to supporting her leadership journey through the Diploma and beyond!

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John Kuot

Scholarship recipient

John Kuot was our 2020 Scholarship recipient and successfully completed Leadership Victoria’s signature Williamson Community Leadership Program in January 2021.


CALD2LEAD has co-funded John’s program participation jointly with Leadership Victoria & John himself.


John was the 2nd recipient of funding support from CALD2LEAD.  Since graduating from the Williamson Program John has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship with Columbia University in the City of New York. 


We congratulate John and look forward to following his Leadership journey to New York and beyond!


Ring Mayar

Scholarship recipient

Ring was awarded the 2019 Leadership Victoria Alumni Scholarship for the Folio Leadership Program. The Scholarship was co-funded by the LV Foundation in partnership with 2017 Folio Program Alumni including the co-founders of CALD2LEAD.

Ring’s biggest takeaway from Folio was learning how to influence interactions positively. “Now I have a softer mind and heart; it’s not just ultimatums. I learned that everyone’s stories matter. Listening to them is vital.”

Folio took him out of his comfort zone, giving him the confidence to open himself up to the world. “It makes you willing to take the risks, risks you can manage because you have the leadership skills to mitigate the risks.”

Ring was recently appointed as a Field Manager at The Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Based on an article published by Leadership Victoria and published with permission.

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