Board – Research and Development


Annual Reports

2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2016

The Social Studio was founded in 2009, and serves as a dynamic design, cultural and hospitality hub in Melbourne. We aspire to be a place of belonging as well as a community resource to change public perceptions of people who come from refugee backgrounds.

We operate as a non-profit Incorporated Association, governed by a Board of Management elected by the membership. Our Board draws from design and business professionals, community development leaders and media experts. Board members volunteer their time.

All income generated through the Studio is invested in creating social benefits for our students, staff and their communities. We measure this through education and employment outcomes, environmental benefits and community inclusion and cohesion.

We believe there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit in community development. Along with participating in forums workshops and events that support the social enterprise sector, we have been mentoring other creative enterprises including The SocialOutfit (Sydney), Twich Women’s Sewing Cooperative (Dandenong), No Sweat Fashions (Canberra) and The Global Studio (La Trobe Valley), among others.

Board Members

  • Farah Farouque (Chair) A founding board member of The Social Studio, Farah has served as the Chair since 2010. She works as Principal Advisor for public affairs and policy at the national welfare organisation Brotherhood of St Laurence, where she is on the Executive Team. Farah was previously a senior journalist at The Age where she specialised in social policy and Australian politics, including a stint in the Canberra Press Gallery. Farah was born in Sri Lanka, and came to Australia as a child with her family.
  • Alberto Furlan (Vice-Chair) Originally from Italy, Alberto moved to Australia to complete a doctorate in anthropology at The University of Sydney. Before settling in Melbourne, Alberto lived and worked in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Alberto works as Senior Program Manager at The Ian Potter Foundation, one of Australia’s leading philanthropic organisations.
  • Ruth Owens (Treasurer) The majority of Ruth’s working life has been spent in managerial and finance roles in the legal and accounting sectors. From this sector Ruth moved to CFO roles with the not-for-profit sector and she is currently a director of LanguageLoops, a Victorian Government Business Enterprise. Ruth’s previous board/committee roles included Cerno Ltd., The Council of Homeless Persons, Mind Australia, International Women’s Development Agency, Victorian Asthma Foundation, Dianella Community Health Centre, Dental Health Services Victoria, City of Yarra and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Ruth’s two professional bodies are CPA Australia and the AICD where she has been an active member serving on a number of committees.
  • Lew Hess (Secretary) Lew is western Regional Manager at the not-for-profit Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (also known as Foundation House). A social worker specialising in ethnic and cultural diversity since 1977, Lew has been an influential contributor to the wider refugee and asylum seeker sector. He is a foundation member of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre (RILC) and an Adjunct Professor with the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Lew has also worked with impoverished communities in Bangladesh.
  • Grace McQuilten (Public Officer and Founder) The idea for the Social Studio was seeded by Grace, an art historian, curator, academic and social enterprise expert. Grace stepped down as the founding CEO of the Social Studio to take up an academic post in 2014. She is presently a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at RMIT University. Grace completed her doctorate in art history at the University of Melbourne in 2008, researching connections between art, design and consumer culture. She is advisor to The Social Outfit (Sydney) and Twich Women’s Sewing Collective (Dandenong), a board member for the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand and a co-founder of The Welcome Committee Inc.


The Social Studio has actively contributed to a number of industry research reports, case studies, independent program evaluations and action-research projects.

This is part of an ongoing commitment to supporting research and best practice in social enterprise, creative arts practice and management, and community development for new migrant and refugee communities.

The following reports are freely available and where possible, alongside the name of each publication, we have provided a link for PDF download.

Hybrid Organizations: Origins, Strategies, Impacts, and Implications, Nardia Haigh, John Walker, Sophie Bacq, Jill Kickul, California Management Review,  Vol. 57  No. 3,  Spring 2015;  (pp. 5-12). READ THE ARTICLE HERE.

Impact and Sustainability in Art Based Social Enterprises, Grace McQuilten, Ben Neville, Anthony White and Krzysztof Dembek, The University of Melbourne, 2015. DOWNLOAD HERE.

Facilitating the Transition to Employment for Refugee Young People, Sally Beadle, Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne and the Centre for Multicultural Youth, 2015. DOWNLOAD HERE.

A New Beginning: Resolving Conflict Peacefully: Pilot Program Evaluation, Natalia Hanley and Tallace Bissett, The University of Melbourne, 2013. Download here.

Art, Money and Society: Private Funding, Public Benefit & Creative Social Enterprise, Grace McQuilten and Anthony White, a project supported by the Jack Brockhoff Churchill Fellowship, the Myer Fund and the University of Melbourne, 2012.  DOWNLOAD HERE.

International Models of Creative Social Enterprise, Dr Grace McQuilten, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. A report for the Jack Brockhoff Churchill Fellowship, 2012.

Investing in Skills: Effective Work-related Learning in SMEs, Centre for Workplace Skills, The Conference Board of Canada, 2011.

Developing Strong Social Enterprises: A documentary approach, Jo Barraket and Heather Anderson, The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, 2010.

Social and Community Enterprises Research Project: Assessing the potential of social and community enterprise as a measure to facilitate women’s economic participation and alleviate poverty, Ingrid Burkett, Foresters Community Finance. A report for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers’ Conference on the Status of Women MINCO, 2010.