Shabnam is a driven community development practitioner, passionate about cultivating true partnerships between communities and structures of power to create lasting solutions. She grew up as an Afghan refugee in Pakistan before calling Australia home at the age of 15. Inspired by her lived experience of forced displacement, she is a strong advocate for meaningful engagement and participation of refugees in addressing the complex challenges of resettlement. Shabnam has founded and led multiple initiatives in Australia and abroad supporting refugees and host communities, particularly focusing on strengths-based leadership and capacity-building approaches. She is part of a small team at the Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) working to establish a holistic community-led refugee sponsorship program in Australia and chairs the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG), a refugee-led organisation creating spaces for effective inclusion of voices with lived experience in key decisions, policies, and discourse about refugees. Over the last eight months, she has been one of the key people leading the ‘Action for Afghanistan’ campaign, harnessing community support and solidarity across Australia and urging the government to take more meaningful action in response to the crisis in Afghanistan.
In her spare time, she likes to hit the mats at the dojo or put on her boxing gloves and break a sweat at the gym. She is a Karate champion with multiple national and international titles to her name.