Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
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News from AMES Australia

26 June 20170 comments

Read about the latest news, research and initiatives from migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia:


AMES Australia launches family violence initiative for CALD communities 

AMES Australia recently launched one of the first ever courses for leaders from CALD communities in the Prevention of Violence Against Women (PVAW).

The course has brought together 42 leaders from different language groups and communities to explore ways of combating family violence.

The course, supported by VicHealth and the Department of Social Services, follows the publication of a report last year that identified a need for strategies to combat family violence in some communities.

The report found women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are among the most vulnerable victims of family violence.

The course, facilitated by AMES Australia Senior Manager Prevention of Violence Against Women – Respect and Responsibility Program Wendy Lobwein, is teaching some innovative strategies and also harvesting ideas from the students themselves.

“One in three Australian women has experienced violence at the hands of a partner – that amounts to around 2.5 million victims,” Ms Lobwein said.

“We know that at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in this country, we know that family violence is the main cause of homelessness among women and children and we know that women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds can be vulnerable to family violence too,” she said.

“The course aims to build the capacity of leaders from CALD communities to be able to lead actions to reduce violence against women in their own communities and also in the broader Australian community,” Ms Lobwein said.

AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said the course was aligned with AMES overarching mission.

“Our aim is to see everyone who is new to Australia take a full part in the social and economic life of the nation – and for that to happen women need to be able to participate,” Ms Scarth said.


Heartlands exhibition gives insight into the refugee experience

The Heartlands 2017 exhibition was officially launched at the Walker Street Gallery in Dandenong last week, attended by refugee artists, staff and special guests.

The theme of this year’s exhibition – Shared Journeys – tells the stories of the lives and shared experiences of refugees.

Artists hailing from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Tibet, Pakistan, Poland and Iran shared the inspiration behind their artworks, which use an eclectic array of media including painting, music, sculpture and mask making.

Ava Kangarloo, an Iran artist who arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker in 2010, said her water colour painting is a demonstration of pride and strength – both for her and other women.

“I feel that it’s me – it’s me there walking through the life’s hardship and walking gracefully and proudly,” Ms Kangarloo said,

“And if you look at this picture she doesn’t turn her face to the people that wants to bring her down,” she said.

Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Sam Almaliki thanked the artists for the unique contributions they have made to Australian society.

“So much passion has gone into these artworks, and I thank each artist for sharing their journey with us,” Mr Almaliki said.

AMES Australia Chair Stuart Crosby officially opened the exhibition and said initiatives such as Heartlands were just as important as ever.

“Given the current climate of politics around the world, its important refugee’s voices and stories continue to be heard,” Mr Crosby said.

Heartlands is at the Walker Street gallery until July 1, before moving to The Atrium at Federation Square in September.


New videos help migrants navigate the rental market

A series of multilingual videos aimed at making renting a home simpler for Victoria’s migrant communities was launched this week.

AMES Australia has assisted Consumer Affairs Victoria in producing the videos and will help disseminate them.

First released in Dari, the animated clips have now been dubbed in Arabic, Karen and Swahili – the top four language groups for people granted visas in Victoria.

They cover a range of topics including; starting and ending a lease, bonds, repairs and condition reports.

Rental processes in Victoria can be very different from those overseas, and new migrants who are not fluent in English often find it difficult to navigate the rental market.

People who have spent a lot of time in refugee camps may have never rented a home.

The videos were launched by Member for Western Metropolitan, Cesar Melham.

AMES Australia General Manager Operation Support, Catharine O’Grady, told the launch in Werribee that finding a safe, secure and affordable home is a critical step in the settlement journey and can have massive impact on the speed and depth of successful settlement outcomes.

“These translated videos will be a great help in providing clear and simple rental advice in an accessible visual format,” Ms O’Grady said.

“This is important because often our clients are sometimes overwhelmed with information about their new society and how it operates,” she said.

Recently arrived Iraqi refugee Eman Shashy said renting a property in Melbourne was very confusing.

“We did not know what we should do to find a house when we first arrived here. We were lucky we had AMES Australia to help us find somewhere to live,” Ms Shashy said.

The videos can be found on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website in Arabic, Swahili, Karen, and Dari.


AMES Australia students plant trees and have fun

AMES Australia students from Melbourne’s west were among 150 people who attended this year’s Yarrilinks event at Minyip, in western Victoria.

Yarrilinks is an annual environmental Landcare initiative that aims to protect and enhance flora and fauna.

This year the event saw 6000 trees planted in the local area.

Project manager Rae Talbot said the event was a great success.

“We had some rain on Friday, but people still came out and it was nice for planting,” Ms Talbot said.

The AMES Australia students came in two buses and Melbourne restaurant ‘Lentil as Anything’ cooked a feast for the group on Saturday night.

“It is lovely to have people from so many different countries because we learn so much from them,” Ms Talbot said.

She said that unlike other years, there was no need to water the trees.

“The soil was already wet and it has rained again since,” she said.

This year was 19th annual Yarrilinks and Ms Talbot’s last.

“This is the grand finale for me – I’ve been working on this event for the past 20 years, so it’s time to step away,” she said.