Irene Opper - Principal Consultant  B.A., M.S.W.A.P.

Irene has consulted for non-profit organisations and governments in Victoria, Queensland, Nepal and Laos over the last 15 years. She has a Masters of Social Welfare Administration and Planning and a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology). Her many publications include How Organisations can Improve their Effectiveness (Export Bulletin Nepal) and Multicultural Action Plans - Towards Best Practice (Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland).

Irene is passionate about bringing about positive change for societies, communities, organisations and individuals. Irene’s toolkit of skills derives from her experience as a manager, systems advocate, change manager, community development worker, case worker, counsellor, mediator, tutor and researcher. She has worked with disadvantaged communities, disadvantaged women, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, people with disabilities, young people, abused children and teenage offenders. Irene is known for her strategic thinking, versatility and for getting great results.

Organisational Development

Facilitator – New Model for Community Planning

New model developed over several sessions with City Planners and Community Development staff at the City of Casey, Victoria. Resulted in a ‘Whole-of-Council’ approach, genuine partnerships with the community, closer working relationships between the two teams and the allocation of funding for a new position of Community Planning Implementation Officer.

Change Management Single Management Structure Change Process - implementation in the Pacific, Oxfam Australia

Multicultural Services Development Mercy Family Services

Team Development Carers Queensland, Queensland Working Women's Service, Young Workers Advisory Service

Quality Improvement Project (Organisational assessment, training needs analysis, delivering training, undertaking and teaching evaluation, facilitating operational planning and individual coaching), Multicultural Development Association.

Design and Implementation of a New Organisational Structure / Change Management  Picabeen Community Association

Strategic Plan Facilitation Social and Economic Developers Association Laos, Thamel Tourism Development Council Nepal, Nepal Cochlear Implant Users Society, Local Energy Trading System, Dandenong Ranges.

Service/Project Planning and Reviews, including Consultation with Clients and other Stakeholders

Women’s Health Support Service Acacia Ridge Community Support, City of Casey, Picabeen Community Association, Multicultural Development Association

Cultural Responsiveness Policy and Planning Advice provided to many Queensland government departments and authorities. Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland

History and Achievements Document Social and Economic Developers Association, Laos

Policy and Code of Conduct development Multiple non profits in Nepal

Recruitment System Development and Coaching Joy Foundation Nepal

Policy and System Development, Service Manual Parent Youth Mediation Service, Camcare

Performance Management Policy Development Brisbane Migrant Resource Centre

Performance Management System / Disciplinary Process Development and Coaching  Nepal Cochlear Implant Users Society

Job Classification Reviews to implement the Social and Community Services Award. Brisbane Migrant Resource Centre

Workshops and Training

A selection of workshops and training:

Irene has designed and delivered hundreds of training sessions on a wide range of topics, reaching thousands of participants. Participants include professionals (Police, Managers, Social/Welfare/Community Workers, Youth Workers, Health Workers, Teachers, Planners, Policy Officers), Social Work students, adults and young people. Interpreters were used when required. Participants have evaluated the sessions very positively, reporting increased skills, knowledge and confidence.

Team Development Carers Queensland, Queensland Working Women's Service, Young Workers Advisory Service, Multicultural Development Association, Oxfam Australia, Oxfam Solomon Islands

Culturally Responsive Service Delivery – for 200 community services and government workers. Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland in partnership with the the Queensland Council of Social Services

Child Protection - Policy, Code of Conduct, Risk Assessment for 192 people. Oxfam Australia, Oxfam Papua New Guinea, Oxfam Solomon Islands, Oxfam Vanuatu, Family Support Centre,  Youth Challenge Vanuatu, Solomon Islands Red Cross

Change Management & Personal Responses to Change Oxfam Australia, Oxfam Papua New Guinea, Oxfam Solomon Islands

Creating your Desired Organisational Culture Oxfam Papua New Guinea

Visioning Oxfam Australia (Pacific Team), Oxfam Papua New Guinea

Social Policy Tutor Department of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Queensland

Systems Advocacy and Campaign Planning – for multicultural advocacy and community workers. Community Action for a Multicultural Society Network

Consumer Representatives’ Skills Training   Four part program: the role of consumer representative, communication skills, committee dynamics and negotiation and conflict resolution skills. Consumers Health Advocacy

Domestic Violence Training for Police Officers    Brisbane Police Academy

Facilitation Skills – for bi-cultural workers. ECCQ HIV, Hep C and Sexual Health Program

Supervision Skills Multicultural Development Association

Learning Organisations International Non Profit Conference, Multicultural Development Association

Evaluation Skills Multicultural Development AssociationCommunity Development Training  City Planning Team, City of Casey

Consumers’ Health Rights - Implications for Practice - for rural health workers. Consumers Health Advocacy

Leadership skills – workshop for African community leaders in Brisbane, Be Fearless Project

Resolving Conflict – workshop for the Afghani community in Brisbane, Be Fearless Project

Advanced Mediation Skills - for mediators. Parent Youth Mediation Service, Camcare

Making Peace with your Teenager   Parent Youth Mediation Service, Camcare

Mediation or Counselling? Assessing a Family’s Needs Boroondara Youth Service Providers Network

Reflective Practice – Community Building and Client Participation Community Health Service

Participatory Teaching Methods – for teachers. VSN English Secondary School, Thimi, Nepal

Leadership and Life Skills Course – for year 9 and 10 students. VSN English Secondary School Thimi Nepal

Consultation Skills: Facilitation and Recording – training for volunteer consulters. Enoggera Local Area Plan, Picabeen Community Centre

Self Development - Eight session courses in stress management, relationships, communication skills for disadvantaged women. Women’s Health Support Service, Acacia Ridge Community Support

Health Matters Workshops for the public on consumer health rights and responsibilities. Consumers Health Advocacy

Getting a Job in Australia – for refugees and migrants. Multicultural Development Association


A selection of publications:

Opper, I., Maher, M., and Figgis, J. (2019) The Research is in - Social Connections are the Antidote to Anxiety and Depression NeighbourhoodConnect.org.au

Opper, I. (2013); Future Direction & Organisational Re-design African Communities Foundation Australia

Opper, I.  (2012)  Pacific Child Protection Training Report Oxfam Australia

Opper, I.  (2011)  Pacific Single Management Structure Change Process Consultation Report Oxfam Australia

Opper, I.  (2008)  How can organisations improve their effectiveness?  Export Bulletin Export Council of Nepal

Opper, I.  (2007)  Multicultural Action Plans A MAP for Queensland?  Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland

Opper, I.  (2006) Multicultural Action Plans Towards Best Practice Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland

Opper, I.  (2006) Culturally Responsive Service Delivery – Information for Service Providers Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland

Opper, I.  (2005) Changing the System – What works? Insights from advocates for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Queensland Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland

Community Health Action Group (2004) Lost in Translation A Discussion Paper on Interpreting Issues in Health Care Settings in Queensland  Multicultural Development Association

O’Regan, M., Upham, L. and Opper, I.  (1998) Enoggera Local Area Plan Social and Community Development Study Brisbane City Council and Picabeen Community Association

Opper, I.  (1996) The New Players: Consumer and Community Representation in Queensland’s Health System Consumers Health Advocacy

Opper, I.  (1995) Queensland’s Code of Health Rights and Responsibilities: Adequate Protection for Consumers? Health Issues Journal Number 42  Health Issues Centre  Melbourne

Management and Community Development

Irene Opper has managed a range of social services and projects in Victoria, Queensland and Papua New Guinea, managing in excess of 280 staff, students and volunteers. This has included:

Expertise developed:


Conference Papers

Turning Streets into Inclusive Communities Belonging Matters AGM

Neighbourhood Groups - the Answer to Loneliness in Australia Loneliness Symposium, Friends for Good, Melbourne

Building a Connected Neighbourhoods Movement in Australia - the Antidote to Depression and Anxiety Keynote Presentation, Asset Based Community Development Conference, Goa, India, January

Change Management Pacific Team Workshop Oxfam Australia

Learning Organisations Mini International Convention and Exhibition Conference Not for Profit Network

Changing the System – What Works? Racisms in the New World Order Conference, University of the Sunshine Coast

Achieving Culturally Responsive Services Poverty, Prosperity and Progress Conference, Queensland Council of Social Services

Leadership in Queensland’s Multicultural Sector Multicultural Summit, Multicultural Affairs Queensland

Research Findings - Consumer Representation in Queensland's Health System The New Players Conference

Consumer Advocacy and Participation  Lecture and workshop for students of the Graduate Certificate in Health Studies  (Primary Health Care), University of Queensland 

Consumer Health  Lecture and workshop for teachers attending the Shaping the Future, Challenge and Change in Health and Physical Education Conference 

Women’s Health    Lecture for Bachelor of Nursing students,  Australian Catholic University 

Women’s Health - Developing Community  Workshop for community workers, Community Development Conference 

Organising Conferences

Conference Organiser, MC and Speaker  The New Players – Health Consumer Representatives Conference, Consumers Health Advocacy

Summit Coordinator and Master of Ceremonies  ASHRAM Call to Action Summit on Housing Issues for Multicultural Communities Agencies Supporting Housing for Refugees, Asylum seekers and Migrants, Queensland Shelter

Systems Advocacy

A selection of Irene Opper's systemic advocacy experience:

Presented in terms of the advocacy goal, Irene’s roles and strategy and the results.

1.  Multicultural Action Plans of Queensland Departments and Authorities

Advocacy goal: Influence departments to adopt effective and far reaching Multicultural Action Plans.

Roles and strategy:


"Irene authored a series of reports which reviewed each Queensland Government Department's plans to implement inclusive service planning and delivery. Irene's high level conceptual ability and strong research skills resulting in these reports being presented rationally and logically, with a focus on evidence and achievable steps forward. Queensland Health was able to improve its approach to multicultural health by implementing a number of recommendations make in these reports. I consider that Irene has directly impacted on improvements in inclusive service planning and delivery by Queensland Health through her advocacy work."

Manager, Queensland Health Multicultural Program, Queensland Health

"The Queensland Health Strategic Plan for Multicultural Health 2007-2012 incorporates many of the recommendations of the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland’s review of all departmental 2005–2006 Multicultural Action Plans. Twenty four “good practice” examples identified in the review have been included in this Strategic Plan. In addition, the Plan also addresses each of the ten recommendations made in the Council’s review of departmental 2006-2007 Multicultural Action Plans."

Uschi Schreiber, Director General Queensland Health, Queensland Health Strategic Plan for Multicultural Health 2007-2012

Irene Opper was the Multicultural Advocate for the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland from 2005 to 2008.

2.  Consumer input into Queensland Health

Advocacy goal: Increase input of a consumer perspective to Queensland Health.

Roles and strategy:


Irene Opper was the Advocacy Development Worker for Consumers Health Advocacy from 1994 to 1996.

3.  Culturally Responsive Service Delivery

Advocacy goal: Increase the cultural responsiveness of mainstream community services and government.

Roles and strategy:


“Irene has produced some really valuable resource materials on advocacy “Culturally Responsive Service Delivery”, and “Changing the System- What Works?” - I still refer to these, and refer others to them also."

Lalita Lakshmi, CAMS Co-ordinator  (Community Action for a Multicultural Society)

Irene Opper was the Multicultural Advocate for the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland from 2005 to 2008.


Local Area Planning Consultation Coordinator

Identified and documented local needs based on consultation with 1,419 people, including disadvantaged groups, in a two-stage process. Developed a team consultation process utilising trained volunteers.  Resulted in Brisbane City Council using the identified needs as a basis for grant allocation.

Social and Community Development Study, Enoggera Local Area Plan.

Picabeen Community Association in partnership with Brisbane City Council

Project Implementation – Queensland Refugee Health Service

Worked with six organisations (a mix of government and non-government) to transition from an approved Service Plan to refugee health clinics ready to commence operations.

Queensland Multicultural Health Program Queensland Health



Complaints on Health, Employment – Equity and Rights (CHEER) project

Multicultural Development Association


Convenor - Agencies Supporting Housing for Refugees, Asylum seekers and Migrants (ASHRAM) network

Organised and led monthly meetings, led advocacy on multicultural housing issues, key participant in the development of a Call to Action position paper, Summit organiser and MC, Queensland Shelter committee member.

Support Groups

Domestic violence, parents of kids with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Women’s Health Support Service Acacia Ridge Community Support


Women’s Health Outcomes Council

Formulated goals for women’s health for the Brisbane South Regional Health Authority


R.E.C.O.V.R. Reaching and Educating the Community and Ourselves about Violent Relationships

Developed and implemented community education strategies relating to domestic violence such as public seminars, media articles

CV and referees available on request.