Horn of Africa Communities Network Inc.

About HACN
Our Mission & Members!



Our Mission:

HACN brings its values of empathy, compassion, friendliness, persistence, optimism and dependability to our vision of becoming the most effective community organisation in Australia. 

By assisting, supporting and encouraging vulnerable refugee, migrant and asylum seeker individuals and families, in their endeavour to become self-sufficient and contributing members of Australian society, we believe we can make a difference. 

We also offer extra care in ensuring that their basic needs are met, while simultaneously working to eliminate the root causes of disadvantage and improving all communities’ quality of life.




  1. Delivering responsive advocacy and practical support to newcomers to Australia
  2. Enabling newcomers to become self-sufficient and productive members of Australian society

  3. Empowering newly arrived Australians to have equal access to opportunities and resources in their new home

  4. Improving relations and cultural understanding between newly arrived settlers and the wider community

  5. Giving hope, encouragement and support to ALL disadvantaged and vulnerable newcomers to Australia




HACN believes that, for effective strategies directed to the support newly emerging disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, we need to provide services including:

  • Capacity building
  • Case Management & Emotional support
  • Leadership Skill Development
  • Life Skills Education
  • Housing and Emergency Relief 
  • Partnerships & Stakeholders involvement
  • Community Development & Micro business 
  • Healthy Eating & Ageing Education
  • Women,Men & Elders Social Support Groups
  • Emerging Communities Responsible Gambling Program



Dr Melika Yassin Sheik-Eldin (Vice Chairperson) 

Dr Melika Yassin Sheik-Eldin migrated from Eritrea to Australia in 1990.  She is Manager of settlement Partnerships with AMES, and is responsible for strategic community relations involving ongoing dialogue and capacity building partnerships with refugee communities and sector organizations for AMES in Victoria.  More importantly, Melika oversees and mentors the successful and internationally recognized Community Guides Network; a bespoke, best practice program using members of a CALD community as integration guides for newly arrived refugees from the same cultural and linguistic background. This experience allows Melika to deliver new policy frameworks via formal consultation with community members and incorporate these learnings into the AMES Settlement Services model, while working with Managers through AMES to understand and incorporate the resulting implications for AMES wider education and employment programs.  Dr Melika Yassin Sheikh Eldin has represented AMES and presented at UNHCR Conferences in Geneva from 2007 to 2011 and was part of the 2011 UNHCR Women's Dialogue in Jordan.

Ayelign Tessema (Treasurer) 

Ayelign migrated from Ethiopia, to Australia, in 2003. His background is exceedingly varied. He has extensive skills and experience in management, accounting, information systems and social services. He is proficient at developing strategic plans, financial planning, policies and procedures. Upon his arrival in Australia, he quickly grasped Australian management concepts, Australian workplace communication, cross cultural awareness and professional communication skills.  He started working as administrative and finance officer at the University of Melbourne International Child Health Unit research project. He moved on, working for different local government and community service organisations with differing levels of responsibilities, providing opportunities to meet and work with diverse community groups, accomplishing outstanding achievements.  He worked at Australian Red Cross as a National Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme Clients Payment Officer (NASASCPO) managed in partnership with the Department of Immigration And Citizenship. Currently working as a manager at Walker Close and Brooklyn Hall Assoc. Inc.,  a non-for-profit organisation that he has helped to transform into an organisation vividly accessible to diverse communities, where a range of programs and services are provided in the inner Western suburbs of Hobsons Bay, Melbourne. In 2011 he served as advisory committee member to the Altona North Community Library.  Ayelign’s professionalism, dedication and friendly, approachable manner are his strongest traits.

Deng Malith (General Secretary) 

Deng arrived in Australia in 2006, from South Sudan. He currently works for CatholicCare’s partnership with YSAS (Youth Support & Advocacy Service) as a Community Case Worker for (AOD) Alcohol and Other Drugs.  He has a strong passion for youth participation in matters that could make a positive impact on them. This motivates him to be involved in things that could give youth a voice in the community.  Deng is currently a YMCA - Derrimut Community Centre Advisory Group member, a group which is tasked to meet monthly to design, discuss and review how best the Centre is meeting community needs.  He was a committee member of Maribyrnong African Youth Advancement Committee (MAYAC), a program initiated by Maribyrnong Victoria Police, which aims to help integrate young African people in the community and guide them towards employment, traineeships or voluntary work.  He also works as a Victoria University Student Ambassador. In 2013 he was awarded the Student Leadership Individual award for his contribution as a valued VU student.  Before his involvement with HACN, he was also involved in various Sudanese associations.

Edward Yak (HACN Committee Member)

Edward migrated to Australia, from Sudan, in 2002.  With an educational background in Management, his many roles have included working as a Community Development Officer for CatholicCare for 5 years.  He is a passionate supporter of newly arrived refugee individuals and families, providing assistance and encouragement, primarily focussing on Employment and Housing Advocacy.  He is enthusiastic about empowering newly emerging communities to be the best they can be!

Terefe Aborete (Services Director & Committee Member) 

Terefe migrated from Ethiopia in 1995. He works for CatholicCare Melbourne as Manager of the refugee and settlement program.  His association with CatholicCare began way back in 1999, where he joined as a community development worker and where he has become a pioneer of the Horn of Africa family services unit.  He became the manager in 2005 and soon after started an innovative approach in assisting the newly arrived refugees settle in Australia.  Terefe was among the 21 proud Victorians from a refugee background recognized for outstanding work in assisting the refugee community. He is also the recipient of the Victorian Premier’s award for excellence in multicultural Affairs in recognition of his extraordinary contributions for the newly arrived communities and wider Australian community.  Terefe is one of the founding members and a former General Secretary of HACN, Board of Director of Western Region Health Centre, former Deputy Chair of Western Region Ethnic Community Council and a former President of Ethiopian Community Association in Victoria.