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Patrons & Trustees

Our Patrons

Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO

Professor Bashir is the former Governor of NSW. She was both the first woman and the first person of Lebanese descent to be appointed to the position, which she held from 2001 to 2014.

Professor Bashir holds Bachelor degrees in Medicine and Surgery and has been a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists since 1971. From 2007 to 2012, she was Chancellor of the University of Sydney, where she had served as Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney from 1993 to 2001. Professor Bashir has also served as Area Director of Mental Health Services for the Central Sydney Area Health Service, Consultant Psychiatrist to NSW Juvenile Justice facilities and Senior Consultant to the Aboriginal Medical Services, Redfern and Kempsey. In 2002, she was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine by the University of Sydney.

Professor Bashir was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2001 for her services to child and adolescent health. She was invested by Her Majesty the Queen with the insignia of a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 2006. Professor Bashir was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2000 and has been recognised as a National Trust Living Treasure.

An individual member of the Refugee Council of Australia since 1989, Professor Bashir was made a Life Member of the organisation in June 2001. Her life membership was conferred at a dinner at the University of Sydney, held to mark the first World Refugee Day, the 50th anniversary of the Refugee Convention and 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Refugee Council.

Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD, Fourth Bishop of Parramatta

Bishop Vincent Long was born in 1961 in Dong Nai in Vietnam. Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, his family has been dispersed: his mother, a brother and a sister are in Melbourne, three brothers are in Holland, a sister remains in Vietnam, and Bishop Vincent is now in Parramatta.

In 1984, he became a professed Conventual Franciscan friar (OFM Conv) and studied for the priesthood in Melbourne.

After his priestly ordination on 30 December in 1989, he was sent to Rome for further studies and was awarded a licentiate in Christology and Spirituality from the Pontifical Faculty of St Bonaventure.

He served as an assistant and then parish priest for seven years in Kellyville within the Diocese of Parramatta and for seven years in Springvale in Victoria before being elected Superior of the Order of Friars Minor Conventuals in Australia in 2005. He served as Assistant General in Rome from 2008 until 2011, responsible for the Asia-Oceania section of his Order.

In 2011, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in which role he served for nearly five years. Bishop Vincent is the first Vietnamese born bishop to lead a diocese outside of Vietnam and the first Vietnamese born bishop in Australia.

During that period, he was Episcopal Vicar for Justice and Peace and for Social Services and was Chair of the Catholic Education Commission (Victoria).

Nationally, he serves as the Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, Chair of Australian Catholic Social Justice Council and member of the Permanent Committee.

On 5 May 2016, he was appointed the fourth Bishop of Parramatta in succession to Bishop Anthony Fisher OP following his appointment as Archbishop of Sydney in 2014.

On 16 June 2016, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv was installed as the fourth Bishop of Parramatta at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.

Our Trustees

Trustees oversee the work of the Australian Refugee Foundation, ensuring that it complies with the legal requirements imposed on trust funds. The current trustees are:

  • Jasmina Bajraktarevic-Hayward, Chair of the Australian Refugee Foundation and President of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA)
  • Professor William Maley AM, Vice-President of RCOA
  • Frances Wade, Treasurer of RCOA
  • Steve Denenberg, Trustee (appointed 2013)
  • Sue Ismiel (appointed 2021)

The trustees of the Foundation are supported the staff of RCOA. The Chief Executive Officer of RCOA, Paul Power, is Executive Director of the Foundation.

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Journalist michael

Refugee Story

“We forget that a lot of refugees have had a hard time.”

Journalist Michael Gawenda was born in a displaced persons camp in Austria, after his parents fled persecution in Poland.

Read more about Michael’s story