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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, Australia’s leading specialist in family violence provider dedicated to assisting migrant and refugee women. Rasha brings a wealth of expertise from the financial services sector and a deep commitment to community service. Her career   encompasses executive leadership roles in major banks and a dedication to support orphanages, youth career coaching, and foster leadership among youth. Rasha holds a Master of Business Administration 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.

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.

Professor Robert Wood

Board Director

Professor Robert Wood is internationally recognised psychology academic who has worked extensively with government, industry and NFP’s in Australia and overseas. His research, consulting and advising experience includes work on bias and 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 organizations. Professor Wood is founder and, for 10 years, was Director of the Centre for Ethical Leadership (UniMelb). He has held senior appointments at top universities in Australia and around the world. And has sat or sits on many government and industry boards and advisory committees.

Reem Borrows

Board Director

Reem Borrows is an accomplished author, speaker, coach, and consultant with a passion for seeking justice for Palestinians and Jews from the River to the Sea. Born and raised in Haifa, Reem immigrated to Australia with her family at the age of 14. 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.

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 also 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.

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.