Former board members

Ms Widyan Fares

Ms Fares migrated to Australia in 1995 after leaving Rafha refugee camp in Saudi Arabia, where she was born following her parents’s escape from Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Now a journalist and media consultant, Ms Fares became one of the first veiled reporters on national television. Her career in media includes time as a radio host for SBS PopAraby, as a SBS cadet reporter, and as senior writer and acting editor for the Point Magazine at Multicultural NSW. She is currently the media consultant for the Lebanese Muslim Association. heading a media project of improving the relationship between Australian mainstream media and the Australian Muslim community.

Ms Widyan Fares

Ms Amna Karra-Hassan

Ms Karra-Hassan played a lead role in the establishment of the new women's AFL team, the Auburn Tigers. She is also an active ambassador for the rights of Muslim women, and is a positive role model and mentor for young people.

Ms Karra-Hassan works for the Australian Federal Police Community Liaison Team. In this role, she engages and networks with various communities to develop relationships that promote positive community partnerships. Ms Karra-Hassan is part of the NSW Youth Advisory Council which advises the NSW Government through the Minister responsible for Youth Affairs on issues of concern to young people (aged 12-25) and government policies relating to young people. Ms Karra-Hassan has played a lead role in a number of other community events including multiple spoken word tours, hosting international and local poets, comedians and spiritual leaders which brought hundreds of local young people to reflect on the importance of religion in their lives. She has Lebanese heritage.

As a CAAR Board Member, Ms Karra-Hassan would be able to utilise her profile in the Western Sydney community and in the sporting world to develop and support CAAR grant applications that align with DFAT’s sports diplomacy initiatives.As operations manager for the Auburn Tigers, she will continue to receive strong media coverage, and demonstrate to the broader Australian public that ‘hijabi’ women take many forms – including talented AFL players.

Amna Karra-Hassan

Ms Joumanah El Matrah

Ms Joumanah El Matrah migrated to Australia in 1976 as a child escaping the Lebanese civil war. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours,  psychology) from Monash University and is currently undertaking a PhD on the role of gender in violent extremism. Ms El Matrah has worked in the welfare sector for over 20 years, and has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights since 2002.

Ms El Matrah has previously worked for the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Victorian Arabic Social Services and has acted in an advisory capacity for the Centre for Australian African Women Issues, Cultural Media and Australians for Lebanon. Ms El Matrah has previously served as a member of the Australian Multicultural Council and the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and is currently a member of the Federal Government's Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery Communication and Awareness Working Group.

Ms Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Ms Abdel-Magied was born in Sudan, grew up in Queensland and recently moved to Perth to work as a fly in-fly-out well engineer for a large oil and gas company. At 16, she established Youth Without Borders to enable young people to work together to initiate positive changes within their communities and internationally.

Ms Abdel-Magied has served as a member of the Australian Multicultural Council, Federal ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group and the 2014 Youth G20 Summit. Ms Abdel Magied has become a passionate campaigner for gender equality and was recently a panelist on the ABC’s all-female Q&A panel in honour of International Women’s Day.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Ms Sue Ismiel

Ms Sue Ismiel, who is of Assyrian descent, is the founder and Global Brand Ambassador of Nad’s, an international cosmetics company which remains 100% Australian family owned. Ms Ismiel has won a number of awards in recognition of her business success and nous, including Entrepreneur of the Year, the Ethnic Business Award and the Australian Beauty Award. Ms Ismiel is involved in a number of philanthropic activities, including women’s health initiatives, and in her role as an Ambassador for ChildFund Australia.

Sue Ismiel

Mr Talal Yassine

After 10 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Director and strategist, Talal joined investment firm Babcock & Brown Ltd in the Corporate Finance Group and later in the Technical Real Estate Division.  Later, Talal held leadership positions in Better Place Australia and is currently the Managing Director of Crescent Wealth.

Talal serves on the Board of Australia Post, the Whitlam Institute, The Global Foundation, and The Australian Multicultural Council.  Talal previously has served on the Board of Sydney Ports, Macquarie University and as Chairman of Platinum Sound Pty Ltd.

In November 2012, Talal was appointed as a Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, at the Australian National University and in August 2014 Talal was appointed Adjunct Professor within the School of Business at the University of Western Sydney.

On Australia Day 2010, Talal was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to business and to the community through a range of education, health and multicultural organisations. Talal Yassine served on the CAAR Board for four years, including three years as Chair. 

Talal Yassine

Dr Glen Simpson

Professional Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Queensland, 1974
  • B.Ag.Sc. (Hons), University of Queensland, 1968
  • Dip.Ag.Sc. (QDA, Hons), Queensland Agricultural College, 1963

Professional Affiliations

  • Foundation Member and Council Member, Company Directors Association of Australia
  • Past Councillor, Australian Professional Consultants Council
  • Associate Fellow, Government Technology Users Association

Countries of Work Experience

  • PNG, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syria, Thailand, Vanuatu, Yemen Arab Republic

Professional and Development Work Experience

2005 - Present: Global Leader (Chief Executive Officer), Coffey International Development

  • Dr Simpson is responsible for the operations of Coffey International Development and its regional operations which include Australasia (formerly SAGRIC and Coffey MPW), Europe and Africa (Enterplan), Middle East, Americas and Coffey Training.

Glen Simpson has been the Group Executive of Coffey International Development since 1987. He has been working in the development world since 1975 when he was a United Nations adviser in Spain. Glen has more than 35 years' experience in managing international development contracts.

Glen was a member of the Coffey Board for almost 10 years when he retired from his Executive Director position in 2009. He is a past director of a number of companies operating in the international development field, a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has been a member of a number of senior industry and state and federal government advisory boards during his career. He is also Deputy Chair of the Federal Government's Council for Australian-Arab Relations.

Dr Glen Simpson

Dr Anne Aly, BA, PGDA, MEd, PhD

Dr Anne Aly is one of Australia’s foremost academics dealing with counter-terrorism, she is listed as one of Western Australia’s most influential women and is an active supporter of the Bali Peace Park. 

Dr Aly is a research fellow in the Department of Social Science and International Relations at Curtin University, Western Australia. She was previously a senior policy officer and manager within the WA government and has represented on committees and working groups in multiculturalism, migrant and refugee settlement and ethnic communities. Anne is the author of Terrorism and Global Security: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan) and has authored over 40 books, book chapters, journal articles and conference proceedings in the areas of terrorism, counter terrorism, countering violent extremism, Muslim identity and responses to terrorism. Her research focuses on Australian and international responses to terrorism, soft counter terrorism approaches and countering violent extremism.

In 2011 she was inducted into the inaugural WA Women's Hall of Fame in recognition of her work in national and international security. Anne is a member of the board of the Council for Australian Arab Relations, the management committee of the Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA Branch and is the WA Ambassador for the Bali Peace Park. Anne was born in Alexandria, Egypt and migrated to Australia when she was two years old. She grew up in Sydney and returned to Egypt to study where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the American University in Cairo The round table would focus on issues of countering radicalisation and racism and methods of working with partners to advance participatory citizenship and respond to perceived terrorist threats.

Dr Anne Aly is an internationally renowned expert in counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation. Dr Aly was the only Australian to be invited to President Obama's White House conference on violent extremism in 2015. She has worked with the United Nations on developing programs and policies on national security and counter-terrorism. Dr Aly is the Founding Chair of a youth oriented not for profit organisation.  In 2016, Dr Aly was elected Australia’s first female Muslim Federal Member of Parliament, for the seat of Cowan, Western Australia.   Dr Aly served on the CAAR Board for six years.

Dr Anne Aly

The Hon Mark Vaile AO

The Hon. Mark Vaile is not only a global leader as the former Australian Deputy Prime Minister ('05-'07), but also an accomplished and renowned diplomat.

Through Mark's passion for rural Australia he started his career as a Jackeroo in the early '70's, before returning to his hometown in mid North Coast NSW.

Mark's service to Australia began in Local Government as a member of the Greater Taree City Council, including three years as Deputy Mayor. With a winning combination of strategic focus, finely tuned negotiation skills, and an acute sense of integrity rarely witnessed in the political arena, Mark soon became a member elect for the Federal seat of Lyne, located on the mid North Coast of New South Wales, until 2008.

Mark's impressive political career whilst in government has seen him hold several ministerial positions; Transport and Regional Development, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Trade, and he was the unopposed leader elect of Australia's National Party ('05 -'07) and ultimately the Deputy PM of Australia.

Mark's expansion of global markets for Australia and its trade partners, combined with his exceptional leadership, and deep respect from both his peers and his constituents, all contributed to him attaining the role of Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

In the pivotal role of Minister for Trade, Mark negotiated many of Australia's most heralded key Trade Agreements: the Singapore-Australia Agreement, which increased market access for Australian exporters of services as widespread as education, telecommunications, professional and environmental industries; the Australia - United States Free Trade Agreement, which included free and open access to the U.S. for Australian exporters of almost all manufactured goods and services, with substantially improved access for Australia's agricultural sector; concluded the Australia – Thailand Free Trade Agreement; and the initiation of Free Trade Agreements between Australia - China and Australia - Malaysia, both of which serve to open up trade and create substantial economic benefits for all countries concerned.

Mark retired from political life in July '08 to pursue a career in the private sector.

Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board for:

  • Whitehaven Coal Limited
  • 123Aust China Education
  • Palisade Regional Infrastructure Fund

He is also a Director on the Boards of:

  • Virgin Australia Limited
  • Servecorp Limited
  • StamforLand Limited
  • HostPlus Pty Ltd
Mark Vaile

Roland Jabbour, Esq. J.P.

Roland has extensive business and international trade relations experience. His business interests include property development and investments, traffic management, travel and tourism, international education and training. The Jabbour Holding group are based in Melbourne but have offices across the Middle East region. The group oversees major projects between Australia and the Arab region, representing Australian universities, as well as private sector and Government institutions.

Roland has developed a high profile as a community leader through a long standing commitment to public service and community initiatives. Roland is well known and respected in government and semi government circles and is widely consulted on issues such as international relations, media, politics, and multiculturalism.

For many years, Roland has had an extensive involvement in the development of partnerships between Australia and the Arab region, facilitating business and trade relations that work to promote stronger ties between Australia and the Arab world.

Roland is the recipient of many awards from Australian and overseas Governments in recognition of his service to the Australian community.

Roland Jabbour Esq. J.P.

Debra Counsell

Debra is a lawyer with over 20 years experience, specialising in global projects, particularly in the resources, gas, energy and infrastructure industries, project finance, foreign investment and procurement. She has extensive global experience advising multi national companies, governments, export credit agencies, multi lateral agencies and financial institutions in connection with the structuring, development and financing of these projects.

Before joining Allens, Debra was Of Counsel with Clifford Chance in Paris where she worked on a range of major projects and project financings in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Prior to that Debra was a partner of Phillips Fox (in what is now Allens' Hanoi office) and in Melbourne, where she handled a similar range of projects and gained specialist Asian experience as well as Australian State and Commonwealth government projects and procurement. Debra has sat on a number of State and Commonwealth boards, is a graduate of the AICD and has specialist probity and governance experience.

Debra's recent experience in the Middle East includes the Ma'aden Aluminium Mine, Smelter and Rolling Mill Project undertaken by the Saudi Arabian Mining Company and Alcoa in Saudi Arabia (US$11 billion) and acting for the Dubai World Group in port concession projects in Algeria and Senegal and the Jafza Economic Free Zone in Senegal.

Debra is admitted to practice in England and Wales and Australia (Victoria) and speaks English and French.

Debra Counsell

Ms Aziza Abdel-Halim

Aziza Abdel-Halim AM is one of Australia's leading Arabic scholars and a prominent Muslim leader. She grew up in Egypt at a time when her birthplace was renowned for its progressive and enlightened Islamic and literary debates.

Aziza is the founder and President of the Muslim Women's National Network and is the author of Did You Know? a book aimed at addressing incorrect interpretations of Islamic texts and rulings relating to women. She has served on numerous government committees including: former Prime Minister Howard's, 2005 Muslim Community Reference Group.

She is currently the Chairperson of the Women Movement South-East Asia and the Pacific; Vice President of the Regional Islamic Dawah Council of South-East Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP); and President of the Muslim Women's National Network Australia.

Ms Aziza Abdel-Halim
Last Updated: 11 October 2018