Cultura Board

Ivan Hrkac (John)

Chair of the Board

John is a qualified Accountant and has worked in various businesses since 1987 in this field. He founded the innovative Hrkac Group in 1994 and has grown the organisation since that time to include accountants, lawyers, financial planners and general finance. He is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Public Accountants and is passionate about all things multicultural. 

John’s family has been involved in the multicultural community for over 45 years with his father being instrumental in the formation of the North Geelong Soccer Club in the 1960s.  John as Chair of the Board, is a member of the Governance Committee, Finance Risk & Compliance Committee, Infrastructure Committee and Corporate and Government Relations Committee. John is an AICD graduate.

Gillian Costa

Deputy Chair of the Board

A Geelong born and bred resident, Gillian has a history of business management across a diverse range of industries, including successfully owning and operating several private businesses over the duration, with the current focus being The Pier Geelong.

Gillian also holds the positions of Deputy Chair with the State Government at the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust, providing another view of business management and operations for a well-rounded understanding.   Gillian is a member of the Governance Committee, Finance Risk & Compliance Committee and Corporate & Government Relations Committee.  Gillian is an AICD graduate.

Deanne Firth


Deanne is a chartered accountant with over 25 years of accounting and audit experience. She is the Founder and Director of Tactical Super an accounting firm specialising in audit and is Regional Councillor for the Institute of Charted Accountants Australia and New Zealand. Deanne is a sought after speaker on tax and superannuation and imparts her knowledge by speaking at a variety of conferences and events as well as being a prolific contributor for industry publications like Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser. 

Deanne volunteers with the Salvation Army and is passionate about using her skills to help others less fortunate. Deanne heads up the Finance, Risk & Compliance Committee. Deanne is an AICD graduate.

Spiro Fatouros

Spiro is the Senior Manager Campus Environments at Deakin University and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience around the maintenance of assets and facilities. He is responsible for a large range of service contracts, tenders, budgets and staff on behalf of the University all of which require due diligence and good governance to ensure works are well delivered, coordinated on time and to budget as well as ensuring compliance with various Acts and standards. 

Spiro is actively involved in the community, sitting on various boards with a passion for the multicultural community. He sits on the Governance Committee and Infrastructure Committee in his role with Cultura.  Spiro is an AICD graduate.

Tess Aberline

Tess is a Legal Practitioner practising exclusively in Wills & Estates. She is a trusted advisor to her clients and uses her legal knowledge and considered approach to advise clients and minimise risks. Tess enjoys building long term relationships with her clients so she can be there to assist them at the different stages of their lives. 

Tess is particularly passionate about upholding the rights of older members of our community, to ensure they maintain control and dignity, and are respected. For this reason, Tess thoroughly enjoys her role as the Chair of the Consumer Rights and Wellbeing Committee, which is tasked with holistically caring for, and continuously improving the experience of, the people Cultura serves. Tess is an AICD graduate

Gerald De Stefano

Whilst Gerald has retired from professional work, he is highly skilled and has extensive experience in procurement, capital and services contract management in the manufacturing, mining, oil and gas industries.

With a passion for risk management, and a keen eye for detail, Gerald maintains a focus on all issues which might pose a risk to the organisation and how these can be mitigated. He is a member of the Finance, Risk & Compliance committee and Infrastructure Committee.

Gerald has served in a voluntary capacity on other boards within the Geelong community over many years.

Dr Linda Sydor Petkovic

Linda is the President of the Geelong Ethnic Communities Council and was one of the founding Directors of Cultura.

With a passion for all things multicultural and especially community engagement, Linda has many years of experience in various community voluntary roles, including the Association of Ukrainians in Geelong, Bell Park Sports Club, the Ukrainian Community School in Geelong and most recently, she was elected Co-Chair of the Ukrainian Education Council of Australia. 

As Chair of the Community Engagement Committee, Linda has been an instrumental part of the development of our Community Engagement Framework.

Linda has a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours from Monash University, a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education from Victoria University, a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education) from Victoria University and a Doctor of Philosophy from Monash University.

Gael Perry OAM

Receiving an OAM in 2022 for services to multicultural aged care and the general community, Gael has served in a voluntary capacity on many boards, providing a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the provision of service and care. Gael has significant experience working in local government and in particular the area of home and community care and services to the elderly. 

She has a passion for ensuring that all our services delivered to our clients are of the highest standard. She has always welcomed and encouraged open and honest feedback from our clients and their families to enable many quality improvements to be implemented in the organisation. Gael is a member of the Consumer Rights & Wellbeing Committee and Community Engagement Committee.

Sophia Shen

Before she immigrated to Australia, Sophia worked in executive management for Chinese Government Enterprises to research and analyse feasibility reports of joint venture projects and coordinated government delegations to Southeast Asian countries. In Australia, she has served for many years on several not-for-profit boards as a Board of Director. She was the President of Chinese Association of Geelong Inc. (2005-2010). 

She has broad experience in fields of Finance, Real Estate, Media, International trade and Education and also served as an advisory committee member for many projects supported by the Federal, State and Local Governments. She has an extensive knowledge and understanding of Chinese language, culture and business. Sophia is a member of the Community Engagement Committee and Corporate & Government Relations Committee and represents Cultura on the Pulse Radio Station Board. Sophia is an AICD graduate.

Eldo Jacob

As the owner of a successful finance and broking company Loanweb Group, Eldo has a passion for helping people achieve their dreams and giving people a voice. Eldo brings a lived experience to Cultura, having migrated to Australia with a deep understanding of the migrant experience.  Because of his experience Eldo believes it is now time for him to give back to the community that supported him when he first arrived and has organised many fundraising events for worthy causes.

He is passionate about community engagement and has been instrumental in the development of our Community Engagement Framework. Eldo is a member of the Community Engagement Committee.

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