PICAC Forums and Conferences

PICAC Forums and Conferences

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The Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care Program (PICAC) providers from NSW.ACT and VIC delivered an online forum on 6 March 2024. Here are the recorded presentations and panel discussions.


Specialisation Verification Framework from a CALD Perspective


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Advocacy for a Multicultural Aged Care Strategy



Trauma-informed Care from a Multicultural Perspective


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CALD Consumer Voices




 Culturally Appropriate Care Forum Speaker Bios

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Selen Akinci

Forum Facilitator

Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Partnership Manager

Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI)

Selen has years of experience in community development, advocacy, capacity building, and culturally appropriate service delivery in aged care. She migrated to Australia from Turkey in 2009 and worked as a Social Worker with Family Community Services and as a Behavior Support Clinician with an NGO. Her interests prompted her to move into community aged care. She has been working for the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) since 2017.

Welcome to Country

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Uncle Shane Charles

Cultural Integrity Lead – Initiatives of Change Australia

Member - First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria

Born and bred in Shepparton, Victoria, Shane Charles has worked in the education, justice, and cultural heritage sectors, most recently with the City of Melbourne. Shane co-chairs the Aboriginal Studies and Indigenous Strategies Committee at La Trobe University. He’s known for his work in cultural intelligence, teaching about the traditional wisdom and diversity of Australia’s First Peoples.

Specialisation Verification Framework from a CALD Perspective

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Isolde Kauffman


Aged Care Diversity and Inclusion Section
Australian Government

Department of Health and Aged Care

Isolde is the Director of the Aged Care Diversity and Inclusion Section in the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. She has worked across the Department for over 20 years in Indigenous health, chronic disease, and aged care policy and program management roles, and her current role fulfils her passion for diverse cultures and promoting inclusive aged care that benefits the diversity of our Australian community.

Advocacy for a Multicultural Aged Care Strategy

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Sylvia Wan

 Senior Manager 

Aged Care, Carer Support and Settlement Services (Social Participation Division)

 Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre



Sylvia has over 20 years of experience in community practice, predominantly within aged care, and currently serves on a Board of Directors for a residential facility. She is a recognised ACCPA (Aged and Community Care Providers Association) Innovation Manager. Sylvia is particularly passionate about empowering consumer voice, having successfully established consumer-focused groups in both the ACT and Victoria that drove service improvement as part of her previous roles.

Meg Polacsek AAG 2023 

Meg Polacsek

Advocacy and Grants Manager

Australian Association of Gerontology


Dr Meg Polacsek is AAG’s Communications, Advocacy, and Grants Manager. Meg’s career spans direct care, communications, advocacy, policy, research, and project management roles across aged care, public health, and academic settings. She completed a Master of Health Science (Aged Services Management) in 2014, with a thesis on the support needs of aging German Australians. She obtained her PhD in 2018, receiving the university medal for academic excellence for her thesis on the self-management strategies of older adults with depression. Meg co-authors a newly published paper on ‘Who speaks my language? Linguistic diversity among people living in Australian residential aged care facilities, in the Australasian Journal on Ageing.

 Niki 2023

Nikolaus Rittinghausen

Forum Facilitator


Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing

Nikolaus Rittinghausen, Manager, of The Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing, has significant experience in project management, multicultural affairs, aged care, policy advocacy, social cohesion, and community engagement. He held Senior Advisor, Senior Policy Officer, and Project Coordinator roles. He provided Secretariat support to Policy Committees in multicultural aged care, consulted across Australia on access issues of seniors from culturally, linguistically, and spiritually diverse backgrounds to aged care services, and was the editor of the multicultural aged care magazine, Golden Years. He wrote his Bachelor's Thesis on the origins of multicultural policy in Australia and holds a Master's in International Studies. Nikolaus also speaks fluent German and Portuguese.

Mary Ann Geronimo FECCA

Mary Ann Baquero Geronimo

Chief Executive Officer

Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils' Australia (FECCA)

As CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils’ Australia (FECCA), Mary Ann brings significant work experience in systems thinking and evidence-based policy advocacy that is rooted in people and communities in Australia and previously, in the East and Southeast Asian region. Before she was appointed CEO, she was the Director of Policy for Health and Ageing at FECCA. She led a strong representation of access and equity for culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the pandemic response, primary healthcare, and reforms in the aged care sector.


Trauma-informed Care from a Multicultural Perspective

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Rafik Tanious

Intercultural Practice Specialist -Project Officer

NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)

Rafik has worked across the social ecologies of education, mental health, and social services with children and young people for the past 30 years both locally and internationally. He has extensive fieldwork experience working with children and adolescents with refugee backgrounds in casework, education, and counseling. Rafik has a continuing interest in trauma recovery, anti-racism, and youth identity formation and has developed racial literacy, and racial resilience programs for young people with refugee experiences and produced anti-racism films on Cabramatta for the NSW Premiers Department. Rafik currently works at the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) as a school liaison project officer, counselor, and trainer.

CALD Consumer Voices

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 Gail Jugow

Forum Facilitator

Education and Training Coordinator

Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra

Gail has worked in social housing for over 25 years gaining vast experience in supporting vulnerable people. Gail entered the aged care career pathway in 2017 as a dementia care coordinator for the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) and then moved to TAFE NSW under the Ageing Home and Leisure stream. Gail has a Diploma in Dementia Care and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Gail is passionate about person-centered care and in particular care for older Culturally and Linguistically Diverse People.
Anna Harrison

Anna Maria Harrison AM JP 

Founder and CEO

Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services


Anna founded Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services Inc. in 2000. Her remarkable leadership and commitment to the rights of older Australians from multicultural and LQBTIQ+ communities have resulted in Umbrella today supporting over 1,000 clients from 70 countries. In June 2023, Anna was cited as a Member of the Order of Australia in the King’s Birthday Honours List, one of four women across Australia recognised for their contributions to the aged care sector. A few months later, Anna was appointed as one of two Western Australian representatives on the Council of Elders.


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Danijela Hlis 

Retired Bi-cultural Social Support Worker

Former member of the Council of Elders

Danijela is a former member of the Council of Elders and a current member of Older Persons Advocacy (OPAN). She has worked with FECCA, Diversicare, NARi, and many other organisations. In the past, she has also worked as an interpreter in French, Slovenian, and Italian. Danijela is also a published author and advocate on behalf of people living with dementia and has worked as a Bi-cultural social support worker and bilingual diversional therapist. She has been involved in many research projects and panels and her passion lies in helping culturally and linguistically diverse seniors achieve respect and social inclusion.


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Talia Perikleous

 Former Carer and Nurse

Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI)




Talia Perikleous has a nursing background and is fluent in Greek and English. Talia had to stop working to care for her mother. Talia was attending the carer support group at MCCI and was involved in volunteer work within the organization in the aged care sector. In the last three years, Talia has been volunteering with the Weavers Program supporting other carers one-on-one.


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Dr. Ponniah Anandajayasekeram

Retired Agricultural Economist and Board Chair 

Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre

Dr. Ponniah Anandajayasekeram (Ananda) is a retired Agricultural Economist with four decades of international experience is the current Board Chair of the Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre (SMRC, Victoria); Member of the Darebin City Councils Welcoming Cities Reference Group and a member of the Policy Development Committee (PDC) of the Council on the Aged (COTA, Victoria). He was the past President of the Tamil Senior Citizens Fellowship (Victoria) and also served in the following committees: Healthy Ageing Advisory Council of the Federation of Ethnic Community Council (Australia); Regional Advisory Council of the Victoria Multicultural Commission (VMC) and the Darebin Intercultural Centre Programming Think Tank. He is a passionate advocate for culturally and linguistically diverse seniors.