BOARD OF MANAGEMENT
Innovation Youth Centre is very fortunate to have a great board with vast skills, expertise and experience in the community services sector to help young people to help their community.
Emilia Lisa Sterjova - Chair
Emilia Lisa Sterjova was first elected as City of Whittlesea Councillor in November 2016 and is the youngest ever councilor in the City of Whittlesea. As a Mernda resident Cr Sterjova is a passionate local advocate for improving key transport, road infrastructure, and services for young people in the local area to provide greater support to local community groups and clubs.
Cr Sterjova sits on Council’s Arts Cultural and Sporting Grants Program for young People Committee and is a delegate for Whittlesea Youth Commitment and is currently completing a Bachelor of Laws/ Bachelor of International Relations and a Diploma in Indonesian.
Richard Foster - Secretary
Richard Foster started in the legal profession in 1997 and went on to work in roles spanning telecommunications providers, banks and finance companies, involving the investigation and prevention of corporate crime. He later worked in a commercial law firm and in 2004 was appointed a Conciliator for the Energy and Water Ombudsman. Richard went on to cut his teeth in the community welfare sector with UnitingCare before being appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Financial and Consumer Rights Council.
In 2010, Richard joined Monash University where he helped pioneer multi-disciplinary practice within its law faculty. In 2012, he was made an Industry Fellow of its Faculty of Business and Economics, where he continues to oversee its Community Support Program. He also has an impressive media record as a commentator and co-host on 774 ABC Melbourne, and is a regular newsreader on FM radio.
Richard completed his MBA in 2017 and is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Law. He is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Institute of Community Directors Australia, and maintains strong alliances with industry, academia and the public sector.
Sophia Koutes - Board Member
Sophia Koutes has a passion for language and the culturally and linguistically diverse, including rare and emerging multicultural communities across Australia. With 25 years of experience in language services including two terms as Acting CEO for a State-owned Body and Government Business Enterprise, Sophia brings with her a wealth of knowledge in governance and ethical leadership, stakeholder and contract management in both the public and private sector. Her experience extends to working with Boards and Governments across all sides of politics.
Sophia currently works for a large national aged care and at home support organisation within the area of Diversity and her vision is to embed diversity in all forms within the Australian workplace. She is an advocate for access and equity for all people with a focus on special needs groups and marginalised community members. Sophia has qualifications in public relations and training and assessment.
Aaron Garth - Deputy Chair
Aaron Garth is the Youth Studies Coordinator at Eastern College Australia and the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at conferences and youth work training events and is dedicated to seeing a strong professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron holds a Master of Social Work, Bachelor of Social Science (Youth Work), Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drug Work and a Certificate IV TAE. He lives in Melbourne’s northern suburbs with his wife and five children.
Bianca Nash - Board Member
Bianca Nash is a passionate social worker with 14 years of experience in the community services industry. Bianca holds a double degree in Sociology and Social work and a Masters in Counselling. Bianca has worked in counselling and case management roles through the course of her career and has extensive experience in the provision of counselling support, case-management, and the development and facilitation of therapeutic groups. In her career, Bianca has supported vulnerable young people with experiences of physical and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, school refusal, strained family relationships, family violence, homelessness, mental health and drug abuse.
Bianca's areas of interests are in trauma-based practice with children and young people, service provision for LGBTIQ+ young people and support for refugee and asylum seeker communities. As a board member of the IYC, Bianca's aspiration is assist young people to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to realise their potential.
Ron Prasad - Treasurer
Ron Prasad is a Counsellor, Life Coach, and Professional Speaker who started a charity for young people in 2014, Beat Bullying With Confidence Foundation. His passion is to equip young people with life skills that will support them in not only living a productive and purposeful life, but in encouraging other young people to do the same.
Ron has a back ground in Finical Planning. He has delivered presentations all around Australia, and has been nominated for Australian Of The Year twice.
Paul Papadatos - Director
Paul Papadatos Innovation Youth Centre Director he is a Highly skilled youth and community services professional with over 20 years’ experience. Worked in roles from direct client services and team leadership, through to senior management. In every role He has always sought to measurably improve the circumstances of the individuals and communities he serves. His skills include the capacity to build and nurture cohesive groups that believe in their work and are able to:
• Clearly communicate their value proposition in a compelling way.
• Share ideas and skills inclusively within the team and with service users.
• Create a culture of innovation and measurable success.
* Empower young people and create positive measurable social change.
• Build strong networks of supportive influencers and empowered residents.
• Deepen connections with stakeholders to achieve goals.
Throughout his career he has served people from diverse backgrounds, including LGBTI, CALD, ATSI, who experience significant challenges across mental health, substance abuse, homelessness and unemployment.
He developed strong networks with professionals to create positive outcomes. These include building effective partnerships with schools, police, DHHS, legal services, health & mental health services, government departments, funding bodies, community agencies, traders and sporting clubs.