Voula Messimeri AM

Voula Messimeri is adding her voice to the development of a strong, cohesive and culturally diverse Australia.

Honour Roll

"I am working for an Australia that is proud of its diversity and a country that embraces people from other parts of the world," she said. "Fundamentally creating a society that is open and embracing of cultural diversity for the social and economic good of all Australians."

Voula has been involved in the community services field for more than 20 years. Among her many positions - many of them honourary - is her role as the Chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) - the nation's peak body promoting multiculturalism, community harmony and social justice. As Chairperson she is blazing a trail for women - becoming the first female in the role in the organisation's 25-year history.

Voula said women needed to be encouraged to step up to leadership positions and not just work quietly from the sidelines. "I hope it helps to pave the way for women to assume that they have a right to put themselves up as leaders," she said.

Voula's motivation to help migrant women stems from her own background and she said she felt a responsibility to give back to the community. Among her future focus is promoting the health of migrant women. She said these women worked hard to provide for their families - often to the detriment of their own psychological and physical health.

"The need for them to cater economically and socially for their families often means they relegate their health to the background. I want to encourage them to put their own health higher in their priorities and government instrumentalities to allocate appropriate resources to meet their needs," she said.

Voula will also continue to work for the acceptance and support of those making Australia their home. "Migrants and refugees need to feel that they are welcome, there are adequate settlement resources for them and recognition that they add value to the Australian society."