Inspirational community leader Gail Ker announces retirement

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Access CEO includes a family legacy that spans 40 years serving Queensland’s multicultural sector

Nationally acclaimed and award-winning community leader Gail Ker OAM, CEO of Access Community Services Limited, will retire on December 31, 2021.

Over the past 20 years, Ms. Ker’s extensive industry experience and expertise in the Australian multicultural, humanitarian and community sectors has resulted in changing countless lives for the better.

Under her leadership, Access has grown from a one-room youth employment service in Logan, Brisbane, to one of Australia’s premier refugee and migrant organizations providing settlement, employment, training, youth services, housing and social enterprise.

Ms. Ker is a recognized thought leader in the areas of need-based community planning, innovative business models, social cohesion, strategic partnerships, employment paths, funding opportunities and strategic direction.

She has guided nearly 300 employees in pursuit of the vision of creating social, cultural, and economic experiences and opportunities that transform the lives of individuals and communities.

Notable successes

Access Community Services is a community-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to community development and capacity building that provides services across Queensland.

In 2018, Access merged with Settlement Services International (SSI) to improve service delivery and drive better results for customers, funding partners and key stakeholders.

Violet Roumeliotis, CEO of SSI, commended Ms. Ker for her remarkable achievements during her tenure at Access and more recently with the SSI Group, as well as for her significant contribution to multicultural Queensland.

She said: “As CEO of Access, Gail completes a family legacy that spans 40 years serving Queensland’s multicultural sector.

“Gail and her parents Des and Noeline Clamp, who founded Access Community Services in the early 1980s, established Access as one of Australia’s prominent voices in the multicultural sector, with a particular focus on Logan, Ipswich City and the Gold Coast communities.

“We are all very proud of Gail’s accomplishments and those of the Queensland team who went on the trip to support her.

“Her energy and commitment to the purpose of Access Community Services has inspired everyone who has worked with Gail for the past 30 years.

“She is missing from the SSI Executive and Wembley Road, Logan offices, but her legacy will endure.”

Ms. Ker said the decision to retire wasn’t an easy one.

She said: “It is with deep sadness that I will leave an organization that has been at the center of my heart and passion for so many years. Community I love supporting my elderly parents at a difficult time in their lives.”

Gail Ker OAM

Gail Ker moved to Logan City in 1975 and worked with her husband, who did the books and administration in their jewelry store.

She led her first position in the humanitarian sector in the late 1980s as a mentoring program in a women’s job club. It was the first of its kind in Australia.

She discovered that it was her job to prepare people to start their work and life and to become part of the community.

She has described Logan, with over 217 ethnic groups, as an example of multiculturalism at its best and that made it the best place to live and work.

She said she believed her work with migrants and refugees told the “Australian Story”.

Their often quoted mantra is: “Every customer counts”.

Ms. Ker’s knowledge has been sought by politicians, industry leaders and research institutions nationally and internationally, including her participation in UNHCR’s annual consultations with NGOs in Geneva.

Ms. Ker’s board appointments include:

  • Advisory Board for Settlement Services – Deputy Chair
  • SBS – Advisory Committee of the Member Parish
  • NAATI – Professional Reference Group – Chair
  • Settlement Council of Australia – Qld representative in the executive branch
  • Migration Council Australia
  • Netball Australia – A netball advisory group
  • South Brisbane Primary Health Network – Community representative on the Regional Clinical Council
  • Logan Leadership Team – Community Representatives
  • Interim Multicultural Community Reference Group – Member
  • Humanitarian Settlement Planning and Result Group – Member

She was previously a member of supervisory boards, including:

  • Australian multicultural advisory board
  • Australian Multicultural Council Vice Chairman
  • Settlement Council of Australia – former roles as Chairman, Secretary and Representative of Qld
  • Qld Ethnic Community Council – Board member
  • Gold Coast Multicultural Council – Vice Chairman
  • Logan Police Citizens Youth Club – Board member

Her honors include:

  • 2008 MAQ Award – Winner of the Single Category for Community Development
  • 2010 Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to the multicultural community in Queensland
  • 2012 Paul Harris Fellow – The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International “for tangible and meaningful support in promoting better understanding and friendship among the peoples of the world.”
  • 2015 Australian Human Resources Institute “CEO Diversity Champion Award”
  • 2016 Women’s Federation of World Peace – Ambassador for Peace
  • 2016 United Nations Association of Australia – Queensland Community Award for recognizing valuable community service
  • 2017 Australian Migration and Settlement Awards – Winner of the Empowering Women Award

In 2018 she was named one of the Queensland Greats by Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

In June of the same year, she launched the “99 Steps to End Domestic Violence” program, which offered women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities advice and legal support in dealing with domestic and family violence.

/ Public release. This material is from the original organization (s) and may be of a sporadic nature that has been edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.


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