our board

The Humanitarian Group is supported by our first patron, Rosemary Hudson Miller, and benefits from a very experienced Board of Management with diverse skills and from a cross-section of society.

Maria Osman - Chairperson

Maria Osman (M.ED GAICD) is a leader with over 40 years experience in gender equity, diversity and inter-cultural communication as a senior government policy adviser, speaker, trainer and community activist.  As the former Executive Director of Western Australia’s Office of Multicultural Interests and Office for Women’s Policy she has lead the development and implementation of cutting edge strategies policies and programs.  Maria has always combined her senior roles with grass roots advocacy with migrant and refugee women. 

In 2015 the Australian Government appointed Maria as the official delegate to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.  In 2007 she was awarded the Government of Western Australia’s Multicultural Community Service Award and in 2012 the National Living Legends Award, awarded to the 100 most influential African-Australians.


Anna Lane - Treasurer

As a Chartered Accountant who facilitates business transformation through values based culture, leadership development, and team effectiveness, Anna draws on her experience of enabling executive teams and organisations undergoing change, growth or large-scale capital projects.

She has international consulting and in house corporate experience across a range of industries; including resources, construction, financial services, FMCG, agriculture and business start-ups. Within this, her practical experience includes strategy execution, management buy outs, business turnaround and investment decisions.

Anna is a member of boards and committees and is a strategic thinker and leader who focuses on business goals while ensuring change is grounded in commercial reality. As such she focuses on connection, effective relationships and empowering individuals and teams as active change leaders to make sure that change initiatives are effective and sustainable.

Crucially, Anna believes diversity holds the key to innovation, improved productivity, sustainability and resilience. She focuses on enabling teams and organisations to tap into different experiences, perspectives, training and values to promote robust thinking, enhanced decision making and, ultimately maximise performance.


Vijayamala (Mala) Dharmananda - Secretary

Mala Dharmananda is a senior public servant. She has a passion for social equity and believes that public value is created jointly – by the public sector, the private sector, business and the non-government sector. She has worked at the highest levels in Western Australian public service including stints at the Departments Premier and Cabinet, Education, Corrective Services, Multicultural Interests, and currently at the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. In all these departments she has been a leader in the development of policy. She has also played major roles in major government reform programs.

With an interest in social justice, Mala has published works on religious diversity in the courts, lesbian and gay law reform, the status of women, and the dynamics of cultural diversity for UNESCO. Mala has worked for the UN Special Rapporteur, the WA Equal Opportunity Commission and the Law and Society Trust in Sri Lanka.

Between work and publishing Mala has contributed to the cultural heart of Perth as a board member for Barking Gecko Theatre Company (1998- 2004), Steamworks Theatre Company (2001-2006), Perth Theatre Company (1989-2004) and Margaret River Press (2011-2014).


Emma Watton Board Member

Emma considers herself to be a visionary leader who works with companies to assist in developing & delivering strong brand led strategies and communications both internally & externally in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. She has extensive experience facilitating workshops and knowledge working with clients of varying sizes, whilst having worked with boards, senior executives and external stakeholder groups to get to the heart of the issues, in order to then move forward to a communication solution.

Emma believes in understanding the 'Why we do what we do'​ within a business and works closely together with entrepreneurs, business owners & boards to align business practice and well branded marketing communications that leaves her clients with a strong, sustainable and effective integrated communications platform. 


Anthony Short - Board Member

Anthony Short has been an entrepreneur advisor and capital raiser for 25 years. He has experience in growing businesses to sustainable profitability and Australian Stock Exchange quotation. He has also been involved in founding and or advising companies in Australia, USA, South Africa, Rwanda, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in relation to technology, e-commerce, biotechnology and blockchain.

Anthony graduated from the University of Western Australia and is a member of the Advisory Board Centre.


Akram (Ak) Sabbagh - Board Member

Ak is a Partner and a Senior Coach with international business and leadership coaching firm AltusQ. With over 16 years of coaching experience behind him, he works with Boards, Senior Executives, Business Leaders and Owners on their Strategy and Growth. Prior to AltusQ, he worked for over two decades with corporations like IBM Australia, Ernst & Young and PMP Ltd, as well as with a number of small and medium-sized businesses in the IT&T industry.

Born in Australia, Ak is the son of Middle-Eastern parents. He speaks Arabic 'reasonably well' and enjoys connecting to his cultural heritage by tracing his family tree and history. Ak maintains an active interest in service based associations and gives his professional skills and time to work on 'love projects' in various not-for-profit organisations and charities.


Board members can be contacted by email to admin@thehumanitariangroup.org.au