Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News from AMES Australia

2 January 20200 comments

Refugees helping to save unique native grassland

Refugee volunteers are helping to secure the future of an important and unique native grassland west of Melbourne.

AMES refugee clients who are members of the Karen community in Wyndham are helping Parks Victoria to clean seeds needed to revegetate newly declared native grassland reserves in Wyndham, Mt Cotterell and Rockbank.

The Victorian Government recently acquired around 20,000 square hectares of land that has been designated the ‘Western Grasslands Reserve’ on Victoria’s unique volcanic plain.

But the native grass on the land has been degraded over time by livestock and cropping.

Hundreds of kilos of native kangaroo grass has been trucked in from western Victoria to help revegetate the land.

Parks Victoria Grassland Ranger Emma Parker said the kangaroo grass seeds needed to be extracted from the grass clippings by hand.

“A groups of local Karen refugees have volunteered to clean and collect the thousands of seeds needed to revegetate the reserves,” Ms Parker said.

“It is an unbelievable contribution because seed cleaning is laborious manual work. It is work that can only really be done by hand and the Karen group has stepped up to help,” she said.

The seed is collected by hand threshing grass clippings and then sifting the grass to remove the seed.

The seed collecting volunteer group was organised by Werribee Park Ranger and Karen community member Hsar Thein Ju.

“We are happy to help. It’s important that we preserve some of the native grassland. It is a unique and sensitive ecosystem that is habitat for many native animals,” Mr Ju said.

“It’s important that we keep some of it for future generations,” he said.

Ninety-nine per cent of Victoria’s volcanic plains grassland have been destroyed by development or agriculture.

AMES/Vicpol diversity program wins multicultural award

A project team that includes AMES Australia and that aims to help Victoria Police recruit a more diverse workforce has been honoured at this year’s Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence.

The Victoria Police Applicant Attraction Team has won the Police Community Exemplary Award.

The Vicpol team has been in operation for three years and is working to implement the Diversity Recruitment Program in partnership with AMES Australia, the African Australian Multicultural Employment Youth Services, Jesuit Social Services, MatchWorks and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

The 15-week program aims to recruit African Australians into Victoria Police through mentoring and support, as well as mentoring training officers in the police academy.

In addition, the team has formed yarning circles for prospective Indigenous applicants and participated in Aspirations Day, an Indigenous careers day as well as other initiatives.

Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence honour outstanding individuals and organisations that foster cross-cultural understanding, support migrants and refugees, and celebrate and preserve the diversity of cultures that make Victoria such a great place to live.

AMES clients volunteer to preserve unique park

A group of AMES Australia refugee clients recently participated in a land conservation volunteering initiative at Melbourne’s iconic Organ Pipes National Park.

AMES Australia Case Manager Bashar Audish coordinated the project is with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA).

Bashar said that all of the clients enjoyed the unique natural environment of the Organ Pipes and were pleased to be able to contribute to removing noxious weeds and tree planting.

Conservation Volunteers Australia staff were thrilled with thrilled with the project’s outcomes and want to continue the initiative next year.

CVA Conservation Officer & Regional Coordinator Zaylee Saint-James Turner thanked Bashar for his help in putting together the group.

“The group was fantastic and everything from our end went very smoothly. Everything was so perfectly communicated and all participants were on time and very well prepared!” Zaylee said.

“We would also love to do this again in early 2020. We are putting together next year’s program and would love to have participants from AMES join us again for this,” she said.

Venezuelan refugees welcomed in Adelaide

A group of refugees from Venezuela and Latin America newly arrived in Adelaide were welcomed officially this month at a function held at the City of Marion, in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

Marion Mayor Kris Hanna welcomed the AMES Australia Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) clients with a speech in Spanish and they shared, in discussion groups, their concerns and thoughts around their first six months in Adelaide.

Some of the issues that stemmed from the discussions included learning English as soon as possible to improve their communication, integration and job prospects, their concerns about waiting for AMEP classes or joining existing classes which had already commenced and acknowledging the value of volunteering as a mean of connecting to the community and acquiring job related understanding and skills.

The Marion Community Centre has made arrangements for conversational English classes to begin.

And one new arrival is starting as volunteer at the local Cooinda Café so that she can acquire skills to get a job.

AMES Australia Senior Manager Settlement Services Michael Schultz said TAFE SA had listened to the refugees’ concerns and responded by offering a full-time AMEP course for this cohort which will run through the school holidays until the end of Semester 1 2020.

“The clients will then be linked to other existing classes from Semester 2 based on their identified levels of proficiency and understanding,” Michael said.

He said that AMES Australia had been offering employment mentoring sessions