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About PARA

Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA) helps Palestinian migrants and refugees live safe, happy, and fulfilling lives in Australia.

Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA) is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.

Founded and led by Australian Palestinians, our fundamental mission is to centre, strengthen, and amplify Palestinian voices.

We provide support for Palestinians while they are in Australia, helping them to achieve their full potential, free from the barriers created by conflict and displacement.

How do we support Palestinian migrants and refugees?

Our Board

Rasha Abbas

Founder and Executive Director

Rasha Abbas is the CEO of InTouch, specialist family violence provider dedicated to assisting migrant and refugee women. Prior to her current role, Rasha served as the General Manager Program Delivery at CBA, Executive General Manager Business Banking at NAB, and General Manager Simplification and Head of Projects at ANZ. Rasha has deep commitment to community service and works across the Muslim, Palestinian, Arab and refugee communities. Rasha particularly focuses on coaching the youth, promoting positive mindset, and fostering leadership and excellence. Rasha is also a member of the Digital Strategy Board Committee at the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI). Rasha holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from The University of Melbourne, a Master of Applied Science in Information Technology from RMIT University, and a Bachelor of Computer Engineering from Kuwait University.

Reem Borrows

Board Director

Born and raised in Haifa, Reem immigrated to Australia with her family at the age of 14. Reem Borrows is an accomplished author, speaker, coach, and leadership consultant with a passion for seeking justice for Palestinians and Jews from the River to the Sea. For over 20 years, Reem has worked in executive and senior leadership roles, building high-performing teams across the areas of sales, marketing, and training. In 2020, she was awarded Australia’s Best Corporate Trainer and is a current executive board member of the Arab Australian Business Council. Reem is the founder and director of Dreem Coaching and Consulting, helping people and organisations achieve meaningful growth. Reem holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Post Graduate Diploma in Strategic Human Resources and Industrial Relations. She recently published her book ‘From the River to the Sea, Humanising Freedom.’

Dr Samah Sabawi

Board Director

Dr Samah Sabawi is an award-winning playwright, author, and poet. Her recent critically acclaimed play THEM won a Green Room Award for Best Writing, was shortlisted for the prestigious Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting and the Victorian Premiere Literary Awards, and was selected for the Victorian Certificate of Education playlist. THEM was also nominated by the Green Room Awards for Best Independent Production, Best Direction and Best Ensemble. Sabawi’s play Tales of a City by the Sea has had more than 100 performances around the world, won two Drama Victoria Awards, was nominated for the Green Room Awards for best independent production and selected for the Victorian Certificate of Education drama playlist. Sabawi is co-editor of Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas, winner of Patrick O’Neill Award and co-author of I Remember My Name, winner of Palestine Book Award. Sabawi has worked over the years with the Wheeler Centre as a judge for the Victorian Premier Literary Awards, and with La Mama theatre as mentor and member of advisory panel for the Pathways program. Sabawi is currently working with Outer Urban Theatre Projects on the stage collaboration “Vigil” as well as finishing her debut novel, to be published by Penguin Random House. Sabawi was awarded a PhD at Victoria University and is the founder and director of Hakawatieh Productions.

Professor Robert Wood

Board Director

Professor Robert Wood is an internationally recognised psychology academic who has worked extensively with government, industry, and not-for-profits in Australia and overseas. His award-winning research, consulting and advisory experience includes work on bias, discrimination and the integration of minorities. He was research director of the Victorian Government’s Recruit Smarter project, which developed and tested recruitment processes for selecting more minorities into government and industry organisations. Professor Wood founded the Centre for Ethical Leadership (UniMelb), of which he was the Director for ten years. He has held senior appointments at top universities in Australia and around the world, including UNSW’s AGSM, Melbourne Business School, University of Western Australia, Kellogg School, Northwestern University, University of Western Australia where he served as Deputy Vice Channellor, and been appointed to many government and industry boards and advisory committees. Professor Wood is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA), the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the International Association of Applied Psychologists (IAAP).

John Karkar KC

Board Director

John Karkar is a barrister of over 45 years’ standing, with almost 35 years as a leading silk. He has been recognised as one of Australia’s best senior counsels in Australia’s “Best Lawyers” in various categories since that publication’s inception in 2008 and continuously to 2024.

Zena Fares

Board Director

Zena is a Palestinian-Australian student at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Politics and International Relations. While completing a year abroad at Georgetown University, she worked at CARECEN, immigration resource centre Central Americans and gained experience at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Washington DC office, an Australian strategic policy think tank. Zena is a member of the Palestinian youth community and is particularly active in the writing field. She completed a work-study program with the New York Times in 2019, writing about youth culture with a concentration in race, identity, and social behaviour. She has since contributed to publications including The Guardian and Missing Perspectives.

Our Board meets monthly to ensure PARA maintains robust governance, our operations have consistent oversight, and the services we deliver remain of the highest quality. We are currently accepting Expressions of Interest (EOI) for Board Members. For more information or to complete the EOI, please get in touch at info@para.org.au.

As part of ensuring the care and services provided for Palestinians arriving and settling in Australia is appropriate, relevant and culturally informed, we have established an Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will comprise refugees with lived experience and will provide ongoing advice and feedback on our services. Please contact us at info@para.org.au if you wish to be involved.

Our Work

“We have been evacuated from Gaza recently. We applied for the Australian visa, and it got confirmed […] We are allowed to stay in Egypt for 2 weeks. Due to the unprecedented circumstances happening in Gaza, our only apartment was destroyed. We were not able to save anything from there including our little savings and even our clothes as we had to evacuate immediately to save our lives. We stayed at the shelter with extremely limited food and little to no electricity and water. We have witnessed the death of 17 people within the refuge shelter due to airstrikes and rocketing. To make matters worse, we currently have no source of income and no financial resources to maintain our lives […] Your help is highly appreciated amid these dire conditions and extreme trauma we have been through, we are still suffering deeply from their effects.” Anonymous, Palestinian currently in Egypt

If you or your family need support arriving and settling in Australia, please complete the form on the Get Support page.

We are working collaboratively with Federal, state and local government representatives to get Palestinians to safety. 

We are urgently asking the Australian Government to:

  • use every diplomatic channel available to call for an immediate nd permanent ceasefire
  • ensure current temporary visitor visa holders have emergency safe passage out of Gaza and into Australia
  • issue more visas for Palestinians, fast-tracking the issuing of visas to ensure family members of Palestinian- Australians are brought to safety as soon as possible
  • provide transparent information and communication about the visa process, including eligibility and time frames.