MDA exists to shape a better future for all 

MDA is committed to delivering a welcoming Queensland where all new arrivals have the opportunity to fully contribute to and participate in a multicultural society. Queensland’s diversity is our strength.

We are an independent organisation committed to achieving the best settlement outcomes for our clients. As one of Queensland’s largest multicultural agencies, we work with refugees, international students, people seeking asylum and migrants, as well as their local communities.

In metropolitan and regional Queensland, MDA works in partnership with our clients, other service providers, government agencies and the private sector, to achieve quality service delivery through advocacy, client service delivery, community development and multicultural sector development.

We know the pathways to full participation we provide for new arrivals are vital to a successful multicultural society.

Making this happen is a two-way street for both the new arrivals, in the effort they make to settle into the community, and for the rest of us in the positive and supportive welcome we give them in their new home .

Download a copy of MDA’s Strategic Plan here.

Dreaming under the Hills Hoist

“We did it in a backyard, with a clothes line in the background. And we did it without any possessions. We didn’t have any money, we didn’t have a place and we didn’t have any workers. And isn’t that reflective of a lot of our clientele! Many come here without anything except a dream to begin again.”

Gail Hyslop – MDA founding member

It seems fitting that an old icon of Aussie innovation was the backdrop, gazing over those early gatherings that would lead to the formation of MDA. Indeed that’s how it was – a group of concerned Queenslanders huddled in an unassuming Brisbane backyard, themselves innovating a way forward through the difficult and divisive days of the late 90s Brisbane.

The defunding of the Brisbane Migrant Resource Centre in 1997 had led to a lot of soul searching, with some of those closely connected to the centre recognising that a strong multicultural sector in Queensland remained as important as ever.

Together they rallied other sector friends and colleagues, bringing on board new strategic thinking, connections and professional skills, and dreaming up a vision focused on advocacy, sector and community development and service delivery to promote a strong multicultural future for all Queenslanders.

Many things have changed over the last 20 years, but MDA’s commitment to the same core vision has remained steadfast, allowing MDA to further its work as a strong agent for multiculturalism and social change in Queensland.

Executive Management Team

Kerrin Benson
Kerrin BensonChief Executive Officer
Kerrin Benson has been the Chief Executive Officer of MDA Ltd since 2004. Under her leadership, MDA has grown to become one of Australia’s most respected providers of settlement and support services for refugees, migrants and international students.
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work in 1984, Kerrin has worked extensively in the government and non-government sectors, in community development, child protection and multiculturalism. She has extensive advisory experience at all levels of government, including the Brisbane City Council’s Inclusive Brisbane Board, Multicultural Queensland Advisory Council and the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers in Detention.
Kerrin’s management philosophy is to focus on making an impact, while inspiring a culture grounded in ethics and values. She believes that anything can be delivered with a good idea, hard work and goodwill.
Christina Skoien
Christina SkoienCompany Secretary
Christina oversees MDA’s corporate governance and manages compliance, quality and risk management. She joined MDA in 2015 with extensive state government experience in the areas of women’s policy, seniors programs and homelessness. Christina holds a Certificate in Not-for-Profit Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia. She is a passionate advocate for gender equality, particularly for refugee and migrant women and girls.
Vanessa Fabre
Vanessa FabreExecutive Manager
Vanessa oversees corporate communication, major events and strategic partnerships for MDA. She has over 20 years’ experience in community and government sectors, joining MDA in 2015.  She holds a Master of Health Science, Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Health) and Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion. Vanessa’s vision is a community that collaborates to make Queensland a welcoming and inclusive place to live work and play.
Tim Draper
Tim DraperExecutive Manager

Tim oversees MDA’s social and economic inclusion programs. He joined MDA in 2013 with senior management experience across the community, education, youth justice and mental health sectors, including as Chief Operations Officer at Healthy Options Australia.  During his tenure with MDA, Tim has been the Senior Manager overseeing our Brisbane-based service delivery to refugees and people seeking asylum.  Tim is passionate about making a difference through leading and mentoring high performing teams.

Leah Percival
Leah PercivalExecutive Manager
Leah leads MDA’s direct services to clients and their communities, overseeing casework, housing, orientation and settlement leadership. Leah joined MDA in 2011, establishing MDA’s presence in Toowoomba which has continued to be a prosperous and inclusive region of welcome. Leah has also delivered international development projects in Nauru, providing high level social policy advice to the Nauruan and Australian Government. Leah has a Bachelors Degree in Occupational Therapy from James Cook University.  Her vision is to inspire and engage our communities to provide authentic, warm welcomes to newly arrived Queenslanders
Rod Wilson
Rod WilsonCFO & Executive Manager

Rod is MDA’s CFO and Executive Manager for People and Systems. He has extensive experience as a senior executive working across both State and Commonwealth government and across a range of sectors including Education, Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, Tourism, Employment and Training. He holds a Graduate Certificate in Executive Leadership from the University of Queensland and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  He has a Bachelor of Business from Queensland University of Technology and is a member of the Institute of Public Accountants. Rod is passionate about working collaboratively to achieve quality community outcomes.

Our Board

Peter Forday
Peter FordayChair
Peter joined MDA’s board in 2011 and was appointed Chair in 2017. An adjunct senior research fellow for the Griffith Health Institute and member of many external committees and advisory groups, Peter also owns and operates a business consultancy.
Anh Bui
Anh BuiDeputy Chair
Anh joined the board in 2015 and is a Risk Assurance Manager with one of Australia’s leading professional services firms. Anh is a fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia, is admitted as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland and is an associate member of CPA Australia.
Fahim Khondaker
Fahim Khondaker Director
Fahim leads the data analytics and insights division at BDO Brisbane and joined the board in 2015. He also performs roles with the Islamic Council of Queensland and the Queensland Government Social Cohesion Committee.
Giri Sivaraman
Giri SivaramanDirector
Giri Sivaraman is a principal and head of Maurice Blackburn’s Queensland employment law department. He regularly advises trade unions and NGOs on governance, has acted for refugees in pro-bono matters, and ran the firm’s pro bono scheme for underpaid 7-Eleven workers.
Jade Demnar
Jade DemnarDirector
Jade is a Management Consultant in global professional services firm, Accenture, leading change management and innovation initiatives in government clients. She is also a member of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation and University of Queensland Young Alumni Advisory boards.