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Shabnam is a driven community development practitioner who is passionate about cultivating true partnerships between communities and structures of power to create lasting solutions and social change.
She grew up as a Hazara Afghan refugee in Pakistan before arriving in Australia at the age of 15. Inspired by her own experience of forced displacement, she is a strong advocate for meaningful participation of refugees in addressing the complex challenges of resettlement, inclusion, and belonging.
Shabnam has founded and led multiple initiatives in Australia and abroad supporting refugees and host communities. She is part of a small national team at the Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) working to establish a holistic community-led refugee sponsorship program in Australia, building community capacity to welcome newcomers. She is the inaugural Chairperson at the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG), a refugee-led organisation creating spaces for effective elevation of voices with lived experience in key decisions, policies, and discourse about refugees.
A Director at the Centre for Multicultural Youth, Shabnam also serves on multiple government advisory boards influencing policy design and program delivery to devise unique solutions for the unique challenges and opportunities facing refugee and migrant communities in Australia. She is an emerging leader in the Afghan Australian community and since the fall of Kabul in August 2021 has been one of the leading voices behind the Action for Afghanistan campaign.
She was recently inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women for her tireless work in promoting refugee rights, social cohesion, meaningful diversity and inclusion. Fun fact about Shabnam: she is also a former Karate champion with multiple national and international titles to her name.