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News from AMES Australia

30 November 20171 comment

News from AMES Australia

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


English and life skills being taught in libraries

A pioneering new program that is seeing migrants learn English in public libraries has been launched in Melbourne’s east, thanks to a partnership between AMES Australia and the City of Monash.

English classes and conversation groups are being run at the Glen Waverley and Clayton Iibraries giving migrants support in learning English and also basic life skills related to settling in Australia.

The free courses run for ten weeks with two hour sessions each week and their organisers hope they will become permanent fixtures.

AMES Australia teacher Margaret Galvin said the session were a “wonderful idea”.

“The program is giving the opportunity for a lot of people to become connected to their local library and also to the broader community,” Margaret said, who teaches the Glen Waverley Group.

AMES Australia volunteer Theo Koumides, who has been volunteering with AMES Australia for seven years, said the sessions were held in a relaxed, welcoming format.

“These sessions are really valuable for people because they can progress at their own speed and, for example, there is one-on-one help with things like pronunciation – which can be difficult for some,” Theo said.

City of Monash Diversity and Inclusion Librarian Jason Brack said that 52 per cent of the city’s populations was form a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background.

“We do have more informal conversations groups running but this program is more structured with a teacher and a volunteer and can focus on specific needs and the language needed to navigate the community and broader society,” Jason said.

He said the council planned to run more of the courses and is building up its resources to support migrant learners.


Sixteenth ‘Working the Australian Way’ Workshop hosted by Australia Post

AMES Australia’s Working the Australian Way Workshop was hosted by Australia Post this week.

The successful two day workshop, which is the sixteenth of its kind, began with a welcome from AMES Australia’s CEO Cath Scarth.

Students from the Skilled Professional Migrant Program (SPMP) and Employment Pathways Program (SLPET) heard from various consultants and independent specialists.

Participating companies included Australia Post, R&J Batteries, Australian Unity, Kailis Bros, Melbourne Water, Mondelez, NAB, Randstad, Rimington Group, Scammell Management Consulting, Small Business Mentoring Service, Telstra, The Polyglot Group as well as various other consultants and independent specialists.

Some of the topics covered included insight into what employers are looking for, current trends in the Australian labour market and Australian workplace culture.

Students got the chance to talk to corporate volunteers about their employment journey and experience a corporate mock-interview, for which they received verbal and written feedback.

Syrian refugee and experienced architect Shaza Mshalwat said the course had been “very useful”.

“The course has given me confidence in myself and also information about how things work in Australis in regard to the job market and networking,” said Shaza, who has been in Australia around year.

“It’s been really valuable to learn about the culture in the workplace here in Australia and to understand what it takes to find work here,” she said.

Latvian banker Anna said she had made some valuable connections through networking during the WTAW course.


AMES students wet a line

AMES Australia students at Box Hill recently had a visit from a guest speaker from the Victorian Fisheries Authority who talked about the rules and regulations of fishing in Victoria.

Some students were then invited to try fishing at St Kilda Pier, with all the fishing equipment provided by Fisheries Victoria and supervised by friendly fisheries officers.

The group was accompanied by teachers Elizabeth Minter and Joseph Jach.

“Fishing is a joy that many students have experienced in their home country but not in Australia,” Joseph said.

While a group of 12 were fishing for an hour, another group of 12 were taken on a beachcombing tour to learn about the marine life of the bay. The two groups then swapped roles.

“A great day was capped off with a visit to the fairy penguins on the breakwater, and coffee and cake in Acland Street,” Joseph said.

The students reported that they loved the day but would have enjoyed it more if they had caught a fish, but as the Fishing officer informed them, the sport is called “fishing” and not “catching”.

Several students are now the proud owners of fishing licences and ready to try their luck elsewhere.


Reaching out to the judiciary on CALD issues

AMES Australia resident expert on the prevention of violence against women (PVAW) Wendy Lobwein recently spoke at a meeting of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity.

Facilitated by the Migration Council Australia, the event was a joint forum of Members of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity with court Cultural Diversity Champions, from every level of court and each state and territory across Australia.

The event, held in Canberra in October, saw Wendy speak about strategies to address violence against women in CALD communities.

They forum was also used to launched a ‘National Framework to Improve Accessibility to Australian Courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Migrant and Refugee Women’ and the‘Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals’.

“I focussed on explaining the newly developing field of work in prevention of violence, particularly with CALD communities and I talked about the three levels of prevention, pointing out that the Judiciary were in the tertiary prevention or response level and let them know that they were not working alone,” said Wendy, who is AMES Australia’s Senior Manager Prevention of Violence Against Women (PVAW) Respect and Responsibility Program.

“I told them organisations like AMES Australia were supporting their work at the primary prevention level.  I illuminated the presentation with stories about the issues women victims of violence face in accessing court systems as witnesses and complainants, particularly when they are unfamiliar with the legal processes,” Wendy said.