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Alisha Fernando


Alisha Fernando is the Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Melbourne where she is responsible for leading the Diversity and Inclusion portfolio across the University, with a strong focus on implementation of programs and initiatives supporting 5 key pillars: Gender, LGBTI+, Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Indigenous, Ethnicity and Race. 

Alisha was born in Vietnam in 1980. Fleeing Vietnam in 1982 with her parents and uncle, they were rescued by a Dutch freight ship in the South China Sea.  The Dutch ship brought Alisha and her family to a refugee camp in Pulau Bidong (Malaysia) where they received refugee status and granted safe haven to Australia.

Alisha and her family arrived in Tasmania in early 1983 where they embarked on rebuilding a new life before settling in Melbourne. She completed her VCE before a Bachelor of Business Banking and Finance at Monash University.

Alisha’s early career experience included credit assessment, business banking, project management, strategy and people leadership. All the while, Alisha continued pursuing her passion for advocating for the under-represented in society. In 2015 her personal and professional vocations aligned and Alisha took on the role of Inclusion Program Manager at ANZ. This role focused on program management and delivery allowing her to leverage her extensive experience in operational business management, strategy, project management and implementation. Specific to process improvement, the role required her expertise in change management, documentation, training, development, stakeholder and people management.

Alisha’s attention was in specialised community and industry programs focused on Indigenous Australians, Asylum Seekers / Refugees, People with Disabilities, LGBTI+ awareness, support and engagement, Community Giving, Women in Leadership and Family Violence initiatives. Through her work in these areas she won the 2017 Business Inclusion award from the Migration Council of Australia for the expanded Refugee work placement program; developed and launched the Indigenous Cultural Awareness public facing module, currently used by various industry partners including CBus, Australia Post, BHP, Department of Education QLD and Hudsons ANZ recruitment team; delivered ANZ’s first Reconciliation Action Plan since 2008; owned and managed the Accelerating Banking Experiences for Women Program with more than 20 women graduating and moving into senior management positions – which was featured in Bain’s March 2017 Report as best practice in women’s leadership programs; and delivered a new Indigenous traineeship strategy supported by the launch of a new marketing video.

Alisha is a recipient of a full scholarship to the Victorian Government’s 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Women’s Leaders Program, which enables up-and-coming female leaders to obtain the critical skills, networks and experiences required for advancement. It will empower women to progress as influential leaders in their communities, sectors and areas of interest.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.