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Multicultural Development Association
ANNUALREPORT
2012–2013
1	 FOREWORD	IV
From the Chair of the Board	 2
From the Chief Executive Officer	 4
Multicultural Development Association	 6
Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners	 7
2	 NEW ARRIVALS SUPPORT	 9
3	 ONGOING SUPPORT	 14
4	 YOUTH SETTLEMENT SERVICES	 16
5	 EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING	 20
6	 SOCIAL INCLUSION 	 26
Bicultural Support Services 	 30
Community engagement	 31
Volunteers	33
CONTENTS 1
7 86
2
7	 BRISBANE MULTICULTURAL CENTRE	 36
Diversity Choir 	 38
Northside office reaches out to community 	 40
8	 IN THE REGIONS 	 42
Rockhampton Office	 43
Toowoomba Office	 45
9	 PARTNERSHIPS AND SPECIAL PROJECTS 	 48
Together we make a difference	 49
Celebrating and welcoming Queenslanders from a refugee background	 50
World Refugee Day Events	 52
10	 COMMUNITY ADVOCACY AND SOCIAL POLICY 	 54
11	 CORPORATE SERVICES 	 60
Snapshot of Recruitment in 2012 – 2013 	 62
MDA Executive 	 64
MDA Board 	 66
Treasurer’s report	 69
Summary: 2012 – 2013 financial year	 70
Myth Busters	 71
10 119
43 5
Disclaimer
Multicultural Development
Assosciation utilises CSnet©, a
cross program internet based case
management system that provides
case management and statistical
support to the organisation. The data
shows the number of clients and
their country of birth recorded on
CSnet during the period 1/07/2012
– 30/06/2013. A client’s country of
birth is provided by external sources
or directly obtained from a client. No
guarantee can be made for the data
to be accurate, correct or complete.
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1	 Foreword
WrittenbyayouthintheRefugeeYouthSupportPilotprogram,thefollowingstoryoffers
a reminder of people’s motivation for making the journey to Australia. He describes
the shift from living in fear to embracing the freedom which Australia has to offer.
NEW BORN —YOU ARE JUST STARTING FROM ZERO
‘I was just referred from LifeWithoutBarriers, from Adelaide. And I just moved from Adelaide to Brisbane.
I had never heard that name before, MDA. I didn’t have any friends here.
The cracked earth photo (right) describes me before I started the program.
Nothing, just like that. I was just zero, because I don’t have any hope. But the good thing, I liked in
myself, I know a little bit English. But nothing more. I was, like, so sad at that time, that I don’t have
anyone in Australia that can support me, that can show me that thing is right and that thing is wrong.
But I believe in Allah that he can help me, he will help me. A dry desert.
The biggest change in me since joining the program:
In here, my behaviour with the people in Australia. Like, I am used that that behaviour now cause I
have many friends who are Australian, and some other Chinese and Thai friends. Get together all the
time. Before, I just scared, talking with them. Now I’m just friendly with them all. If you don’t know the
behaviours, or how to behave to another one, it’s very hard for you. In different ways, in finding a job.
I think it’s very hard for you if you don’t know some of this. Also, I improved my English here.
The insert photo of the child (right) describes me now.
It mean like, full of joy! I think I feel so much happy now because my life is safe in here. In Pakistan
there is a situation of war and terror over there. So, I think the best is that I’m safe here so that’s why
I’m so much happier. I want to be something like, in the future, I want to be a mechanic, in the future.
They (MDA) just helped me in several ways, like they showed me how to achieve my goals. Like my
case managers, they are very helpful to me. And they referred me to different education programs to
improve my English.’
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FROM THE CHAIR OF THE BOARD
The old saying goes that hindsight is a wonderful thing. The national conversation about asylum
seekers, refugees and migrants continues to dishearten and dismay.What gives us solace is that in
a generation’s time, we will look back with a sense of‘what was all the fuss about’because we will
be overwhelmingly reaping the rewards and celebrating the good that came from this generation
of new Australians, like so many before them.
We know this because we have been here before. It is always a struggle for new arrivals as they
try to find their feet in a new country; often different in language, culture and outlook from their
homelands. Moreover, it is always a struggle for us as a country and people, as we try to adjust to
new and different people, with their new ways of doing things.
In the end, we come to a happy medium, as we become part of each other. Our children become
the new generation of Australians; the doctors, engineers, plumbers, brick layers, entrepreneurs and
small business owners of the future. Since federation, the 800,000 refugees welcomed by Australians
have multiplied into a significant part of our population. Today; from first to fifth generations, it
would be hard to find an Australian family that does not have a refugee or migrant ancestor.
This is how we know that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are resilient and determined
people. In whatever way they come to our shores, they do so because they want a better life than
the cruel hand of persecution, war and injustice that they have been dealt. They crave the peace
and freedoms that we take for granted. They are hungry for the opportunities they have been
long denied.
And when they finally get what they crave, seldom is it wasted. For you don’t spend years walking,
running, struggling and waiting for peace and opportunity to then sit idle and see it go to waste.
Australia’s new arrivals are typically determined to get established quickly; get a house, new skills; a
job and start rebuilding their lives. As a result, they are often highly motivated to gain employment,
including moving to regional areas for a job, often the jobs that many Australians reject.Through
our work in the employment area, we are seeing first hand how refugees are helping revitalise
regional and rural areas, such as Toowoomba and Rockhampton.
As our population begins to age; as we have fewer children than the generation before; as the
world’s economies change, especially in our region; the value of migration, in its various forms,
will continue to be critical to building Australia’s future.
These are the positive contributions of refugee and migrant settlement that we often don’t hear
in the public conversation. It is a part of the argument that we in the multicultural and settlement
sectors seldom add to the debate ourselves. We focus on cultural and culinary contributions in
making our case for multiculturalism without also including the tangible differences our new
arrivals have and continue to make to our communities. Both sides are important to creating our
prosperous future.
They are the arguments we must increasingly inject into public debate about refugees, asylum
seekers and migrants. If we want to drown out the negativity, the incorrect labels of ‘queue
jumpers’and‘illegal migrants’, then we must replace them with the positive and personal stories
that humanise our new arrivals and showcase their achievements. Because then, they are not
numbers anymore, they are not burdens on society but real people working hard to build a life
for themselves and helping to build up our country, just like you and me.
This has always been Australia’s history and it will be our future.We have for so long cherished the
relatively harmonious multiculturalism that defines our national identity. It is important we do
not lose sight of what an extraordinary social and cultural achievement this is and that we work
hard to keep building it up.
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This is one of the privileges of the work we do at MDA. From looking after asylum seekers in the
community, settling refugees, supporting newly arrived migrants, advocating for their rights and
celebrating their achievements, we literally get to contribute every day to our nation’s vibrant
multiculturalism.
This annual report outlines our year’s worth of effort in this regard. It has been an interesting and
challenging year that has tested us on many fronts. I am proud of how we met these challenges,
the outcomes we achieved and the opportunities we seized. I celebrate the dedication of MDA’s
wonderful staff and volunteers; and I thank the partners who support MDA to make it all possible.
I congratulate Kerrin Benson, CEO of MDA, and her management team for their strong and
courageous leadership during these amazing times.
It is an honour and a pleasure to chair this organisation.
Sally Isles CHAIR OF THE BOARD
this page  Kerrin Benson CEO of MDA with cast and crew of I Am Here and Director of Queensland Theatre
Company Wesley Enoch
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FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Inayearthathasbeenconfronting,whathasdefinedMDAandourworkhasbeenour
ferocious commitment to our core principles and vision. In this testing environment,
our work in promoting multiculturalism and a welcoming society has become more
important than ever.
Our philosophy has always centred on respecting human rights and social justice principles of
fairness, equity, opportunity and dignity for all people. Sometimes it seems our principles are
disappearing from Australia’s collective response to the world’s growing refugee and asylum seeker
problems. On this issue, there is a sense that our nation is at a crossroads.
Yet, I don’t think we as a people are; certainly not from the continuing acts of goodwill, support
and encouragement that we see from ordinary members of the community, and not just from the
usual suspects. We see acts of support from elderly ladies raising funds for asylum seeker clients,
big brand corporations gifting clothes and equipment, private school kids donating food and
families volunteering to support newly arrived refugee families.
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These have been some of the many highlights this year. It seems the growing perception by the
media and our leaders of community aversion to refugees and asylum seekers only brings out
more people determined to prove otherwise. These acts of support, big and small, continue to
strengthen my belief that Australians will not lose the national moral compass on these critical issues.
As MDA continues to expand, with significant growth this year, we have not lost sight of our
guiding principles.While our scale is different, our operations and organisational culture are clear
and focused on our vision and purpose.
Indeed our significant growth has increased our capacity to support more people in their settlement
journeys. This has been the result of the expanded humanitarian program. We were delighted to
see the federal government expand the program to 20,000, meaning more refugees getting the
opportunity of sanctuary, safety and a new home; often after years of waiting.
Our work in supporting the over 2,000 asylum seekers who have sought Australia’s protection
continues to be a privilege. It really is. Many people have lost their lives, and more have experienced
the trauma of seeing friends and family drown on those dangerous boat journeys. We see the
human face of this grief and I have been extremely proud of the cultural competence MDA staff
demonstrate in supporting our clients around loss.
We also see the human face of global conflict, displacement and the courage it takes to seek asylum.
It’s bringing out the best in us and reminding us of why we do this work and why it’s important.
Because we know that behind the statistics are the real people who are counting on us.
The work we do with asylum seekers is especially challenging, particularly in this complex policy
environment. It has been motivation for us to be more daring and innovative in how we support their
needs and advocate for their rights. Opportunities like my membership on the Minister’s Council
on Asylum Seekers and Detention provide avenues to advocate for our clients and contribute to
advice government seeks on asylum issues. A personal highlight was seeing a shift from processing
asylum seekers through mandatory detention to aligning with international practices by processing
people in the community, and I am proud MDA stepped up to assist.
MDA stepped up in many other areas this year. Our ventures in Toowoomba, Rockhampton and
Nundah are yielding many successes. Our training program continues to build sector competence
in working with refugees. Our social media community has more than doubled as we continue to
increase our online community engagement. Our news media engagement has also expanded this
year, creating opportunities to share our clients’stories and successes within the wider community.
We continue to build new partnerships across diverse sectors, from the theatre world to agriculture
and everything in between. Our partners are providing great employment opportunities for our
clients and supporting our public celebrations including the LanternParadeWalkforRefugeesand
the WorldRefugeeDayCommunityFestival to celebrate the contributions of refugee communities.
This year, Toowoomba city chose to celebrate the contributions of its refugee communities by
becoming a RefugeeWelcome Zone.This was simply fabulous to see, and in a climate that lacks so
much leadership, it is important to acknowledge governments that lead by example. In the areas
of multicultural policy, community development, building partnerships and funding support, we
value the contributions all levels of government make to complement our work.
I am so proud to be part of an organisation that in a year of policy challenges and a large scale
up, adapted, innovated and just got on with it. Moreover, our staff did it all with smiles on their
faces, our volunteers gave us a bit more of their time and effort, our board showed leadership to
guide us forward, our members gave their unwavering support, our clients continued to receive
great service, and showed that all that seems impossible, hopeless and lost may not be so after all.
Kerrin Benson CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
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MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION
ThisyearMDArosetoanumberofsignificantchallenges,includingarapidexpansion
to its New Arrivals programs, with its signature enthusiasm and flexibility.
4025 clients from 66 different countries were supported overall. The social inclusion
programwasrampeduptosupportthoseclientsaswellasworkingwithpeoplefrom
20 different local communities. MDA’s employment team helped around 600 clients
toward economic participation and the Brisbane Multicultural Centre resounded to
the sound of countless community celebrations and activities 7 days a week.
Who we are
We are a specialist Queensland-based multicultural agency established in 1998 which has grown
into a vibrant community of members, paid staff, volunteers, clients, partners and stakeholders
with the same goals of strengthened multiculturalism in Queensland and of full participation and
equal opportunity for refugees and migrants in our community.
MDA partners with government, not for profits, community stakeholders, the corporate sector
and volunteers using casework, education and skilling, community activities and advocacy to
welcome, support, orientate and integrate asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to create new
citizens willing and able to contribute to the Australian community and economy.
We have offices in Woolloongabba and Nundah in Brisbane city as well as offices in the regional
cities of Toowoomba and Rockhampton.
What we work towards
We work towards an inclusive, united, multicultural society which values and celebrates cultural
diversity and which provides welcome, safety and pathways to full participation and equal
opportunity for refugees and migrants.
What we do
■■ provide services to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to enable successful settlement
■■ facilitate new and emerging community groups
■■ promote cultural diversity across the whole community
■■ promote a better understanding of settlement, asylum seeker, refugee and migration issues
■■ work to strengthen the sense of welcome and safety extended to asylum seekers, refugees
and migrants by the broader community.
■■ advocate to decision makers and service providers to improve policy, programs and services
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF TRADITIONAL
OWNERS
MDA acknowledges Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander people as the first people of this country.
Australia’s Indigenous people are ancient with relationships to the land, each other and others
since time immemorial.
In having survived and endured the historical injustices of colonisation upon their lands and
peoples, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders hold a unique role in Australia and the world.
MDA deeply respects and values Australia’s Indigenous People’s enormous resilience, courage,
determination and often unrecognised contribution to this country’s social and economic
development.
below  Welcome to country at Lantern Parade Walk for Refugees 2013
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2	 NewArrivalsSupport
The services provided to new arrivals in
the Brisbane and Central Coast regions
are delivered by a New Arrivals Support
(NAS) Team, which comprises the:
■■ Community Assistance Support
(CAS) Team
■■ Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme
(ASAS) Team
■■ Community Determination (CD)
Team
■■ Refugee Settlement Support (RSS)
Team and
■■ Social Inclusion (SI) Team
The combining of these teams under
one umbrella allows for effective
communication and planning across
the organisation and ensures a
client’s journey through programs is
streamlined and co-ordinated.
The New Arrivals Support Team
provides on-arrival support to asylum
seekers and refugees. This includes:
■■ asylum seekers living in the
community who are still under
the care of the Department of
Immigration and Citizenship;
■■ asylum seekers living in the
community on Bridging Visa E and
■■ refugees, with visas granted both
off-shore and on-shore.
The New Arrivals Support Team
undertakes case management and
settlement services, life skills education
and orientation as well as group
activities and linking to mainstream
community services and activities.
ERITREA
SRI LANKA
NEPAL MYANMAR/BURMA
BHUTAN
BANGLADESH
THAILAND
AFGHANISTAN
PAKISTAN
IRAN
SOMALIA
AUSTRALIA (BORN IN)
CONGO, DEM REPUBLIC
SUDAN
CONGO
BURUNDI
ETHIOPIA
KENYA
IRAQ
Top 20 countries of
origin of MDA clients
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CAS/ASAS clients’main countries of birth
Community Determination clients’main countries of birth
Refugee Settlement Services clients’main countries of birth
Other 10%
Bangladesh 6%
Pakistan 7%
Myanmar/Burma 7%
Afghanistan 18%
Iran 19%
Sri Lanka 33%
Sri Lanka 5%
Congo, Dem Republic 6%
Myanma/Burma 7%
Iraq 7%
Afghanistan 16%
Iran 22%
Other 37%
Other 13%
Pakistan 1%
Stateless Person 4%
Myanmar/Burma 4%
Iraq 12%
Iran 35%
Sri Lanka 31%
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Community Assistance Support (CAS) and Asylum Seeker Assistance
Scheme (ASAS) programs
In2012–2013,theCommunityAssistanceSupport(CAS)andAsylumSeekerAssistance
Scheme (ASAS)Teams worked with 1394 clients.
In July 2012, MDA commenced support work with asylum seekers for the first time. This work is
funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. MDA established and implemented
two new programs, Community Assistance Support and Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme.
The CAS program consists of six-weeks case management for asylum seekers on bridging visas.
The support provides transitional accommodation and assistance to link into relevant health and
social support services. During this time a Client Needs Assessment takes place to ascertain the
level of ongoing support required. The majority of clients then transfer to the ASAS program,
where they receive health support and needs-based financial assistance.
For the first nine months of the CAS/ASAS Programs, clients comprised single men and women.
From May 2013, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship started referring families to the CAS
Program. Most of MDA’s CAS and ASAS clients are from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh.
KEEPING HOPE ALIVE
Offering support to people to keep hope alive in times of great uncertainty is not an easy task. But
this is the name of the game for MDA case manager, Sibo Ngwenya, in her work with asylum seekers.
‘One thing I try to remind clients is just how far they’ve come, and that to give up hope is abandoning
everything they’ve fought for… because it’s a big deal getting on a boat,’said Sibo.
In the past, employment opportunities were an important source of hope and well-being for asylum
seekers, who could focus their minds on working and on sending money home to their families.
Sibo says that in the current context, where many clients do not have work rights, providing support to
asylum seekers to take part in meaningful activities and connect to the community not only promotes
positive mental health, but also provides the best possible head-start for asylum seekers in the event
they are granted a permanent protection visa.
‘What we do is to try and draw on the positive,’said Sibo.
‘Through working with MDA’s Social Inclusion program, our work is now about linking asylum seekers
to meaningful activities and helping them to access volunteer positions in their own communities.
In the case they do get protection visas, they know where to start looking for jobs and they’ve made
those kind of networks already,’she said.
In addition to the focus on community connections and meaningful activities, asylum-seeking clients
also receive support to connect with important services, to learn about life in Australia, and to access
English classes through the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) after they have secured stable,
long-term rental housing.
‘I always try to encourage clients to take advantage of the services being offered here, for example,
torture and trauma counselling,’said Sibo.
With processing now having been resumed for asylum seekers, Sibo says that she is now seeing the
rewards both of her own perseverance and the resilience and courage of her clients.
‘One of my clients got his protection visa a little while back. He now works for a social housing provider,
he’s bought his own car and is settling really well. That’s a really good success story and for me has
been a really amazing thing to see,’she said.
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Community Determination Program
In 2012 – 2013 the Community Determination Team worked with 283 clients.
MDA started working with people living in the community under the Department of Immigration
and Citizenship’s Community Detention Program in August 2012. Clients in this program are asylum
seekers waiting for a decision on their visa applications. Clients in this program are either in family
groups or vulnerable adult men. Since commencement, the Community DeterminationTeam has
supported over 280 individual clients, with approximately 80% forming part of a family group.
In the Community Determination Program, the team provides support with housing, healthcare,
education and Department of Immigration and Citizenship-supported financial assistance. The
team also provides access to meaningful activities, such as approved volunteering work or social
activities like barbeques and attendance at a range of MDA activities including RefugeeWeek events.
Humanitarian Settlement Scheme
In 2012 – 2013, the Refugee Settlement Services Team worked with 1495 clients.
The Refugee Settlement Services Team provides settlement services under the Department of
Immigration’s Humanitarian Settlement Scheme to Refugees and Special Humanitarian clients.These
services include: meeting clients at the airport, undertaking needs assessments and developing a
comprehensive case management plan, which will include linking clients to housing, health, and
educational services. The services extend for up to 12 months.
This year there was a trend of people being granted Permanent Protection (866) Visas on shore
in the early part of the year but this changed to an off-shore client group in the later few months
of the period.
Humanitarian clients came from over 55 different countries, with the majority arriving from Iran,
Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka. There was an increased caseload from Somalia and Ethiopia
towards the end of the financial year.
BRISBANE IS HOME - AFTER 20 YEARS IN REFUGEE CAMPS
Man Bahadur Rai arrived in Australia on the 18th January 2012 with his great-grandson, Bala Ram, after
spending over 20 years in Beldangi 2 refugee camp and Timai refugee camp in the far east of Nepal.
Man Bahadur was born in the isolated Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan and earlier this year celebrated
his 85th birthday.
Man Bahadur Rai spent the majority of his life as a Yak farmer (a Bhutanese type of shepherd) prior to
fleeing Bhutan in the early 1990’s. Since 1991 a large number of Bhutan’s people have sought asylum in
Nepal, India and other countries around the world. Australia has settled many of these people through
its Humanitarian Program. Although he identifies as Bhutanese, Man Bahadur speaks Nepalese and it
was his Nepalese ancestry that played a part in forcing him to flee Bhutan.
Man Bahadur arrived in Australia on a Health alert noting that he could only walk small distances.
However, on arrival at Brisbane International Airport Man Bahadur stated that he was in good health
and felt very young – able to walk distances of up to 5 kilometres (a short distance in his opinion!).
He attributes his youthful looks and great health to what he calls ‘the secret to long life’– Yak butter
(a Himalayan staple).
MDA invited Man Bahdur to the Lifeskills Settlement Orientation Program when he arrived in Brisbane.
He and his great-grandson attended each session for two weeks, quietly taking in the new information
and greeting fellow attendees with the traditional Bhutanese word of ‘Namaskar’. Man Bahadur also
began to embrace the traditional Australian handshake as well as clasping his hands together in a
prayer position to encourage a traditional salute.
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Man Bahadur enjoys reading and studying at his home as well as spending time with close family. He
is currently reading and studying the ancient Hindu text‘Bhagavad Gita’; a 700–verse Hindu scripture
that is said to be over 5000 years old. Man Bahadur’s family states that he provides sound advice to
the family members on a number of issues.
After six months of settlement in Australia, Man Bahadur and Bala Ram were recently reunited with
other family members from the Bhutanese Refugee Camps. The Bhutanese community including
Bala Ram welcomed the family at Brisbane International Airport alongside MDA Refugee Settlement
Services team members.
Man Bahadur, MDA’s oldest client, is quietly content living with, and being cared for by, his loved ones
in Zillmere, Brisbane.
this page  Man Bahadur Rai, MDA’s oldest client, with Kerrin Benson, CEO of MDA
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3	 Ongoingsupport
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Continuing Settlement Services
In2012–2013the ContinuingSettlementServicesteamworkedwith759clientsand
made 1000 referrals to other agencies.
The work of the Continuing Settlement Services team is financed through the Settlement Grants
Program from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The team works with clients who
have been permanent residents for 12 months and continues for up to 5 years. Their work aims
to increase clients’ independence, knowledge and ability to access mainstream services. This is
achieved through casework, referrals, group information sessions, family relationship workshops
and women’s support groups and youth being linked to sporting activities.
The Continuing Settlement Services team has offered a combination of the following programs
to different communities including Karen, Iraqi, Iranian, Tamil, Afghan and Rohingya:
■■ Breast screening Qld information
■■ social housing and homelessness – improving knowledge in accessing long term accommodation
■■ Centrelink services and understanding payments and recent changes and reporting
■■ Domestic Violence (DV)and the Law to DV victims
■■ Safe Driving and Learner Licence Support series
■■ personal wellbeing
■■ independence
■■ economic wellbeing
■■ social participation
The programs have proven successful with increased awareness, knowledge and problem solving
observed.
The Settlement Grants Program is now being offered through MDA’s new Nundah office and northside
referrals are increasing. A weekly pilot outreach service at Acacia Ridge began in March 2013.
Intensive Support Services
MDA’s Intensive Support Services team is a panel member on the Department of Immigration
and Citizenship funded Complex Case Support program to deliver intensive case management
to support individuals and families experiencing extreme hardship and complex issues that are
impacting on their settlement.While most clients have resided in Australia for more than 6 months,
some clients are identified as having complex needs requiring support before the initial 6 month
period has lapsed.
Complex case support is provided by MDA across Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton
andToowoomba. MDA continues to subcontract toTownsville Multicultural Support Group which
has also provided proactive, intensive and responsive Complex case support to clients in this region.
Over the year, the Intensive Support Services team has worked with 23 cases, including 12 families.
Within these cases, MDA has provided support for 45 children.
MDA continues to advocate strongly for the most vulnerable new families and individuals and
continues to strive to enable people needing additional support and encouragement to be
accepted into specialist and mainstream services. While the complex case referrals received by
MDA have decreased over this financial year, the team have been able to maintain an agile and
robust response to identified client needs, and maintain a professional, culturally appropriate
and responsive approach to supporting clients. MDA has achieved success in meeting all key
performance measures.
4	 YouthSettlementServices
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ThefollowingYouthSettlementServicesworkismostlyfundedthroughtheDepartment
of Immigration and Citizenship’s Settlement Grants Program. Over the past year this
workhasincorporatedcasework,aSocialNetworkLeadersProgram,individualgroup
activities and information sessions, continued support of the Youth Representative
Committee, and a community project – Youth Exposed. The Refugee Youth Support
Pilot was a program funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
High Schools outreach
MDA provides case work assistance at Milpera, Yeronga, Kedron and other state high schools
including Macgregor and Sunnybank.
This financial year MDA supported 100 clients through case work. Referrals are made on a needs
basis through case work and a total of 881 formal and informal referrals were made.
Outcomes of these referrals included:
■■ linking students to recreational programs such as mainstream soccer and gyms;
■■ linking with mainstream organisations such as 4EB, Headspace, Inala Youth Service, Child and
Youth Mental Health Service, Zig Zag and Brisbane Youth Service;
■■ linking students with their public libraries;
■■ facilitating links between students and the auxiliary school staff to secure on-site assistance
at school;
■■ providing a link between services as well as services and schools to best meet the needs of
young people;
■■ providing enrolment support at feeder schools after Milpera;
■■ enabling young people to make links with wider community via social activities.
Social Network Leaders Program
Yeronga State High School and MDA partnered to deliver the Social Network Leaders Program at
Yeronga. This program builds a sustainable transition support to students moving from Milpera
State High School to Yeronga State High School.
The program is two-fold in that the Social Network Leaders provide support at Yeronga State
High School for newly transitioned Milpera students by buddying up with them and organising
welcoming activities at the school, as well as delivering information sessions to students at Milpera
State High School around transitioning to high school, alleviating fears and meeting peers. The
positive results from this program are significant. Not only do new students have individual and
group support at their new school, leaders also learn valuable leadership skills. For example, five
of the nine Year 12 Student Captains were Social Network Leaders in Year 11.
Dance Group at Milpera State High School
Through case work at Milpera, female students identified they were interested in learning social
skills and that they would like to be involved in a dance group. MDA established a weekly dance
group at Milpera for them.This was highly successful with the girls being referred on to mainstream
dance opportunities and gaining the confidence to perform at the Milpera Exit Parade.
Performing at the Exit Parade enabled social opportunities for the girls and increased their self
esteem while they made friends and displayed their talents to the school. Furthermore, as the
majority of girls were exiting that term, they were able to make strong connections with other
exiting students in the group and provide incidental peer support during this exiting process and
in their destination school.
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Youth Representative Committee
MDA’s Youth Representative Committee (YRC) collaborated with the Queensland Program of
Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma’s (QPASTT) Youth Voice to deliver several youth
initiatives in 2012 – 2013. They included the Youth Employment Forum, Mental Health Week
activities and the Youth: Exposed art showcase.
ClearThinking Cube Camp-out 2012
Collaborating with ClearThinking, (a not for profit organisation dedicated to helping people gain
clarity and peace of mind), QPASTT’s Youth Voice committee and MDA’s Youth Representative
Committee volunteered to run an art installation in the Queen St Mall where three volunteers
stepped into a cube for 55 hours each, living their lives as the hustle and bustle of city life passed
them by.The youth volunteers set up an art installation station and invited people to write messages
of positive mental health strategies, loaded these to the ClearThinking and Youth Voice facebook
pages, demonstrated how to make origami cubes and spoke about different stories of mental health
for young people from diverse backgrounds to anyone and everyone walking past in the mall.
The program provided an opportunity for ClearThinking to include a multicultural perspective in
their campaign this year and the volunteers felt they were able to make a difference in the lives
of others by raising awareness of the issues. All photos can be seen here: http://goo.gl/NYB2ji
Youth: Exposed
To mark the start of NationalYouthWeek in April 2013, theYRC and QPASTT’sYouthVoice committees
producedYouth:Exposed, a showcase of art from young people across Brisbane, held atThe Edge
at the State Library of Qld. The showcase displayed items from a number of workshops that were
held in the lead up to the event, including claymation, song writing, photography, mask making and
stencil workshops. Students from various schools across Brisbane, including Milpera, Woodridge,
Macgregor,Yeronga and Sunnybank State High Schools, produced art work which was on display
at the event, with highlights including a Welcome to Country, a performance by Rwandan dance
group Imanzi and other entertainment.The event was well attended by government, council and
youth representatives from across Brisbane. Planning for this project began in the previous financial
year under the MDA Settlement Grants Program, and became a collaboration with QPASTT’sYouth
Voice committee in 2012 to define and implement the event.
Refugee Youth Support Pilot
MDA’s Refugee Youth Support Pilot (RYSP) trialled a new approach to the settlement of 16 and
17 year old unaccompanied males on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship
(DIAC). MDA launched the project in February 2012 for a funded period ending 30 June 2013.
The young men involved in MDA’s pilot, a mix of Hazara Afghani, Iranian and Rohingya , were
assessed by the department as suitable for living independently without 24-hour care. MDA took
the role of their custodian while the Minster for Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)
remained their guardian.
MDA’s RYSP team members dedicated their time to ensuring the young men gained the necessary
life skills to successfully live independently together, and then transition into their wider local
community on reaching 18 years of age.
As a matter of priority from the young men themselves, all were assisted in securing employment
pathways and engaging in appropriate study or vocational training. Some examples of this were
inspiring for the team to be involved in, including several young people who are on apprenticeship
pathways and others who are now in their final years of mainstream secondary schooling.
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The total intake of participants for the entire program was 32.The young men lived across a variety
of share-house arrangements with each other over 7 sites in Brisbane’s south western suburbs.
They were engaged in adapting their knowledge to new life skills necessary for living in Brisbane.
This included learning about Go-Cards; usingTranslink; familiarizing themselves with local services;
cooking for themselves on a budget; socializing responsibly; engaging with longer term established
members of their community; and joining in local sporting or other recreational opportunities.
Partnership was a crucial element in the approach of the RYSP team to engaging the young men in
their local and wider community, including involvement with sporting clubs, government agencies,
businesses, social services, churches, cultural and social communities and other local community
members who have crossed the young men’s path and decided of their own volition to find ways
to be supportive and provide encouragement for their new lives in Brisbane.
This type of support is exactly what the young men needed to feel genuinely engaged and accepted
in their new community while facing the stress of their family commitments back home and worry
for their families safety and future life. We thank each and every person who has helped in some
way to make a positive impact on the young men’s present and future.
The young men faced difficult and confronting daily challenges in their settlement journey. At
times, there was also the opportunity to be a normal young man experiencing growing up in a
foreign country.They were learning new cultural norms that sometimes conflicted with their own
traditions and practices. Regardless they managed to straddle the divide and move on.
The program saw each and every young person settling into Australian culture with a supported
experience, and strong foundation on which to build their own futures in their local communities.
At the successful conclusion of the pilot, key findings were:
1.	 83 per cent of participants suggested the program helped them to feel supported;
2.	 only 16.5 per cent of participants said that they do not feel ready for adult life in Australia
(this figure includes participants who were not yet due for exit); and
3.	 the average overall rating of the program by participants was 8 out of 10.
5	 Employmentandtraining
‘RefugeesandasylumseekersbringawiderangeofskillsandexperiencestoAustralia.
They are highly motivated to find work and to contribute to the economy and the
future of their new country.’
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Despite the Skilling Queenslanders forWork de-funding in 2012, MDA has been able to continue its
commitment to economic participation.The EmploymentTeam provides practical and innovative
support for jobseekers with work rights across a number of MDA programs. In 2012 – 2013 a total
of 298 clients entered employment.
The EmploymentTeam works with asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status are being
assessed to provide a skills audit showing:
■■ professional background and work experience;
■■ employment-related skills, education and post-school qualifications;
■■ work areas of interest; and
■■ willingness to re-locate for work.
Following this audit, the team delivers employment lifeskills training in:
■■ employment basics;
■■ Australian workplace culture;
■■ information gathering for resumes;
■■ job search process.
Job club
Following the employment life skills training, all clients can access Job Club to prepare resumes
and look for and apply for work online, supported by MDA staff and volunteers.
The Employment Team also runs a weekly Youth job club in partnership with the Queensland
Program for the Assistance of Survivors ofTorture andTrauma (QPASTT) open to any young person
of refugee background wanting assistance with looking for work.
Employment case management support
Employment Team members work one-on-one with clients who possess sufficient levels of job
readiness including basic functional English and skills in demand in the current labour market.
Case management support consists of a six-week‘active phase’and a six-week‘light-touch phase’.
After the first phase, clients are equipped with:
■■ an up-to-date resume and cover letter;
■■ an understanding of basic job search processes and systems in Australia;
■■ ability to independently look for work using a variety of job search techniques.
During the ‘light-touch phase’ clients are expected to look for work largely independently, with
minimal support from the Employment Team.
This framework has proven to be effective for actively engaging clients and enabling clients to play
an active role in the job search process, as well as ensuring availability of support to the largest
possible number of clients.
Job preparation training
Job preparation training is group-based and complementary to the one-on-one casework. It
builds on the basic employment lifeskills training and provides group-based learning and sharing
of experiences. It covers the following topics:
■■ what employers want;
■■ job search techniques;
■■ job interview preparation;
■■ basic workplace health and safety.
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Employer engagement
Pro-active engagement with employers and intermediaries such as recruitment agencies and
labour hire companies, as well as chambers of commerce and other industry peak bodies is a core
area of activity for MDA’s Employment Team.
This approach has been most successful with industries that experience labour shortages or high
staff turnover extending to regional and rural areas of Queensland.
Long-term employment outcomes have been achieved with companies such as:
■■ McDonald’s, Emerald/Blackwater
■■ Kureen Farming, Lakeland (north of Cairns)
■■ Woolworths, Brisbane
■■ All Purpose Transport, Brisbane
■■ Teys Australia, Rockhampton
■■ JBS Swift, Rockhampton
■■ AWX Agribusiness, Rockhampton
■■ Labour Solutions Australia, Toowoomba
■■ Nolan Meats, Gympie
■■ Kilcoy Pastoral Company
Employer engagement includes setting up defined pathways for jobseeker clients to access work.
This may include:
■■ promoting specific employment opportunities (e.g. through information sessions);
■■ screening of suitable candidates to put forward to employers;
■■ assisting in the interview and selection process (e.g. by hosting interview days at MDA);
■■ assisting with logistics in the lead-up to the commencement of employment;
■■ post-placement support for clients and employers for up to three months.
Community preparedness
Many employment opportunities for MDA clients lie in regional and rural areas of Queensland.To
ensure successful re-location for work to rural and regional areas, the EmploymentTeam works to
prepare communities before the arrival of asylum seeker clients.
This work involves:
■■ establishing relationships with local groups such as councils, police, service providers etc.;
■■ education on the background of the arriving asylum seekers, their reason for re-locating and
the support available to them from MDA;
■■ identifying services and activities through neighbourhood centres, sports clubs, church groups
and so on that the clients may want to link into.
This work has helped create more welcoming environments in locations such as Dalby, Moranbah,
Mackay, Emerald, Blackwater, Gatton, Gympie and Kilcoy.
Fee-for-service
The expertise developed by the EmploymentTeam is now available through its jobseeker workshops
for clients of external agencies. Other services for migrant background jobseekers are being
investigated.
left  supporting a client in Job Club
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PROGRAM OPENS UP NEW WORLD FOR NASRIN
When Nasrin Ghasemi arrived in Australia as a refugee from Iran two years ago, finding work was
difficult at first. That was until she successfully applied for a position at Mt St Michaels College, a girls’
secondary school in Brisbane’s inner west suburb of Ashgrove, under the Work & Welcome program.
Since taking part in the program, a world of new opportunities has opened up for her.
‘Before I got a job through the Work & Welcome program, it was very hard to find employment. I had
no work experience in Australia,’said Nasrin, who is a trained IT professional.
‘Having this work experience has helped me a lot. I worked for three months as a reception and
administration worker and learned many new skills.’
The program also helped Nasrin demonstrate to her colleagues the full range of her talents.
‘I got to speak to other staff about my IT qualifications and employment experience in Iran, and was
able to demonstrate to them some of my skills. They all know now what I can do. The school offered
me a contract as an IT support worker once I finishedWork &Welcome. Now I’m doing work that I was
trained to do … It’s great,’Nasrin said.
Nasrin also got to share her story with the wider school community including the students.
‘I got to speak to students in class about my story … how I came to Australia and why. It was very
good because they didn’t understand the reasons for people becoming refugees. They asked lots of
questions. I think they understand better now what it means to be a refugee.’
above  Nasrin Ghasemi
Mt St Michaels College has been involved with Work & Welcome since 2004.
School Assistant Principal Mission, Stephen Campion, said the college became involved because of the
assistance the program provides new immigrants as they settle and find their place in Australian society.
‘This is what the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church is all about and therefore what all
Catholic schools and colleges should be concerned with,’Mr Campion said.
‘It was an easy decision to make. The participants have brought inumerable benefits to our students
and staff – to have so many rich and varied stories and shared experiences with the wonderful women
from many different backgrounds whom we have welcomed at the school.’
The school has hosted nine Work & Welcome participants overall, from diverse parts of the world,
including India, Brazil, Rwanda, Burundi, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Central African Republic.
In the meantime, Nasrin is delighted to be contributing to the community through her work.
‘I’m very happy that I live in Australia and in Brisbane and work in this lovely place,’she said.
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Work and Welcome Program
Since 1993, the Work & Welcome program has been creating real employment opportunities for
newly arrived refugees and migrants. Although it originated as a school-based initiative where staff
voluntarily donate part of their pay to employ a newly arrived refugee or migrant, the program
can bring the same fantastic benefits to any workplace andWork &Welcome is excited to now be
partnering with the State Library of Queensland.
The program was founded by Padua College teacher Mark Taylor, who remains coordinator in
partnership with the MDA. It has developed over the years into a unique workplace giving program
that enriches workplaces as much as it does the lives of program participants.
Work & Welcome currently operates in Brisbane and Toowoomba, and has employed over 60
refugees and migrants from around the world over the last decade.
Through taking part in the program, participants gain local work experience and are able to build
the personal and professional networks so critical to finding meaningful employment in Australia.
In return, they enrich the workplace through sharing their story and experiences with their new
colleagues.
The program is also immensely rewarding to those employees who contribute to it financially.
Research shows that employees who donate through workplace giving programs want to know
where their money goes and see the difference it makes. Through the Work & Welcome program,
employees get to see firsthand the profound impact of their donations on a person’s life.
The success of the program speaks for itself. More than eighty per cent of people participating
in the program since MDA’s involvement have gained employment or are on track to completing
further study and training.These outcomes have gone a long way to restoring the hope and dignity
of program participants and setting them off to a successful work life in Australia.
6	 SocialInclusion
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TheSocialIncusionTeamprovidedlifeskillseducation,orientationandaccesstosocial
inclusion activities to the majority of New Arrivals Support clients in 2012 – 2013. The
teamworksalongsidelocalandculturalcommunitiesandservicepartnerstocontribute
toawellfunctioning,multiculturalsociety.Theteambuildsopportunitiesforsocialand
economic participation that can assist people to realise their settlement aspirations.
Orientation to a new life
The Settlement LifeskillsTeam members are the ultimate hosts for newly arrived clients for all our
refugee and asylum seeker programs. For 3 days per week, 50 weeks per year, they ensure that
MDA’s newest clients have the information and tools they need to successfully navigate their first
few weeks in their new home.
From gender relations to water safety, the health system to setting up house, information is
delivered in first language via seminar, multi-media and role play methods. Guest presenters from
Queensland Police Service and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service add authenticity and
spark to the lifeskills sessions.
The team’s experience is that people in large groups require full tummies to concentrate on learning.
Aided by the generous support of SecondBite and the Moorooka Brumby’s Bakery, the Community
Kitchen team have provided over 2000 morning teas and lunches to MDA clients over the past year.
Hospitality—MDA style
MDA is the central contact with Australia for many new settlers during the uncertain first weeks after
arrival. Beyond the obligatory requirements of support MDA seeks to create a feeling of warmth
and welcome through offering simple hospitality and activities to engage clients as they await
the outcomes of their visa applications. Sausage Sizzles and Chai Time are regular occurrences
along with sporting and recreational activities.
From January to June 2013, 1356 clients participated in Social Inclusion Activities including sport,
fishing, gardening, art and craft.
above  Social Inclusion team members, Ra Rangiawha, Lida Dalira and Silvana Fanchi at the regular MDA client
sausage sizzle..
left  Queensland Police Commissioner, Ian Stewart with MDA clients after a Life Skills Workshop 
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CHAI TIME!
On any given Thursday afternoon at around 2pm, the inviting aroma of freshly brewed chai tea sails
gently through the Brisbane Multicultural Centre,Woolloongabba.Those who follow their noses are soon
captive to the warmth and hospitality of MDA staff member and Chai Time coordinator, Joyce Taylor.
Joyce not only brews the best cup of chai this side of the Indian Ocean, but has created the kind
of easy going, revitalizing environment that provides clients some welcome breathing space from
their day-to-day worries. The program is a striking reminder of how simple gestures can make a big
difference to a person’s day.
With warm chai in hand, clients are invited into the MDA community space where several games are on
offer including table tennis and chess. Joyce says these games have a universal appeal that resonates
with clients from diverse backgrounds. She also believes that the challenge of putting their minds and
skills to the test provides a sense of accomplishment and improves well-being.
‘The thing is some of them are really talented at these games. They come every week and are just
happy to show others,‘Look at me, I’m pretty good at this!’It’s just a game, but it means a lot to them,’
said Joyce.
Unlike most of MDA’s settlement and social inclusion programs, Chai Time does not work with
interpreters or cultural support workers. Joyce believes this encourages clients to form cross-cultural
friendships, build their networks, and to practise their English with volunteers, staff and other clients.
‘ChaiTime brings them together, no matter their culture, language, or what their situation is.They just
bond.There’s always that space of mixed cultures, so that’s the whole idea of the hour and a half,’she said.
As with so much of MDA’s work, volunteers make a profound contribution to the success of the program.
Joyce says that so often, clients are just eager to be acknowledged and to have the opportunity to
share a small part of their story with a friendly stranger who’ll listen and share in return.
‘Sometimes, just asking simple questions like‘What’s your name, or where do you come from’makes
all the difference,’she said.
According to Joyce, Chai Tea itself is a notorious conversation starter, with variations of the delicious
brew at the heart of many of MDA’s diverse client groups. Joyce says that the similarities and differences
between her own brew and the recipes followed by clients in their own countries really gets them talking.
And in case you’re wondering, the cornerstone to Joyce’s brew is ginger and lots of it!
‘That keeps‘em coming,’Joyce said.
Welcome Hubs
In 2012, the Social Inclusion team hosted community centre directors from key settlement suburbs
to discuss how they could jointly address identified needs.The‘Welcome Hub’model evolved from
this to support refugees and asylum seekers in their local communities.
Welcome Hubs build on existing support structures and aim to be an entry point for new residents
into their local community through activities such as ‘English Chat’, shared meals and cooking
classes. The Hub concept builds on the successful‘West End Welcomes’model.
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Celebration of cultures and traditions
The Social Inclusion team encourages and facilitates many cultural and social events throughout
the year.
Women’s Dance party
180 women from across Brisbane participated in theWomens’Dance Party hosted by MDA RESPECCT
and organised in conjunction with the Queensland Program for the Assistance of Survivors of
Torture and Trauma, Communify and Acacia Ridge Neighbourhood Centre in October 2012.
International Women’s Day
Over 150 women joined the Social InclusionTeam in the Brisbane Multicultural Centre community
space for a‘pamper and dance’afternoon. Everyone was able to get hair, nails, makeup, massage
or henna done and join the dancing.
Nowrooz – New Year
257 Afghan, Kurdish and Persian staff and clients danced to each other’s music, shared food and
celebrated in February 2013. This was organised by the Social Inclusion Team with a‘taskforce’of
client representatives.
Tamil and Sinhalese New Year
The Social Inclusion Team worked with Tamil and Sinhalese representatives at MDA, community
leaders, and clients to hold a lovely event with sensational food and much positive feedback.
RESP-ECCT Program
The Respite for Emerging Communities in CulturalTransition (RESP-ECCT) program provides respite
for carers who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who look after someone
with a mental health concern.
The work is funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous
Affairs as a partnership between the Queensland Program for the Assistance of Survivors ofTorture
and Trauma, Communify and MDA.
The RESP-ECCT program continues to expand with support provided to 129 clients/carers
participating in activities of the program. Working with MDA’s most vulnerable clients can be
challenging but it is also a privilege. Tailored activities such as men and women’s groups, yoga
and psycho-education sessions to build personal resilience to manage day to day life are just a
few activities that provide a safe space for clients to vent their thoughts and feelings and receive
support by staff and fellow participants.
Clients who have engaged in the RESP-ECCT program have made huge progress, shifting from
isolation to socialisation and independent to inter-dependency with some clients themselves
becoming agents of change for fellow community members.
This year the Social Inclusion team has developed an inter-faith memorial program in response to
the needs of clients to publicly acknowledge bereavement and to share their grief in a supportive
environment.This has been of special value to those separated from extended family and community
support systems and who have lost loved ones through continued conflict in their country of origin
or country of temporary refuge (e.g. in a refugee camp).The memorial combines prayers, song and
lament to loved ones wherever they may be spiritually or physically. It has been a privilege to share
in this journey of loss and grief with over 100 asylum seeker and refugee community members.
This year has seen increased client numbers, additional tailored activities, strong links to community
groups, joint work with other community organizations and increased external stakeholders
willing to provide support.
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BICULTURAL SUPPORT SERVICES
Bicultural Support Services
MDA employs a pool of Cultural Support Workers who have a critical role in enabling MDA to
deliver settlement support in first culture and language.
These workers support childcare services and other government and non-government organisations
to provide culturally appropriate, quality services across Queensland to members of culturally and
linguistically diverse communities. A key element of the MDA model is to use workers who come
from our clients’backgrounds and speak their languages. A recent internal audit of MDA service
delivery time statistics indicated that Cultural SupportWorkers are responsible for approximately
28% of face-to-face contact with MDA clients.
MDA currently has over 250 registered Cultural SupportWorkers throughout Queensland, from 59
different countries with over 100 different languages.Through Humanitarian Settlement Services
alone, over 11 000 hours of cultural support were provided to clients.
Early childhood program
This program aims to increase the capacity of early childhood services to meet the needs of children
and families from diverse backgrounds.Through mentoring, training, resource development and
support, the Early ChildhoodTeam assists centres to implement approaches that will successfully
include children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
From July 2012 to June 2013 MDA received over 100 requests from child care services
across Queensland for cultural and linguistic support with 1920 children supported
acrossQueenslandthrough1024hoursofsupport.Thethreemostrequestedlanguages
were Mandarin, Vietnamese and Hindi.
Cultural consultancy program
Cultural SupportWorkers provide services to organisations that work with diverse client groups in
overcoming a variety of different language and cultural barriers, such as educating staff to understand
specific cultural needs of clients and providing language support for effective communication.
During 2012 – 2013, 682 Cultural Consultancy requests from multiple organisations were met
including assisting with housing support, language support for universities, support for complex
needs clients and delivering cultural competency workshops.
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COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
MDA’s community development work with new and emerging communities in 2012 – 2013 was
funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship through the Settlement Grants Program.
This work involved a number of strategies. The first of these was identifying and strengthening
formal and informal leadership within communities such as providing support to community
leaders to convene their forums and to action outcomes. Forums were held on issues identified
in community leader meetings including employment, housing and family reunion.
The second strategy was support for communities to develop their own structures and responses
to priority issues. An example of this work was supporting leadership within the Queensland
Rohingya Community Inc to set up a youth development project in response to their growing
concerns of disengagement and isolation among young people in the community. This project
proposal has recently been awarded funding from the Brisbane City Council.
The third strategy was to facilitate a connection between new arrivals and existing community
members.
Moorooka Small Business
The Community DevelopmentTeam continues to work with the Moorooka community to address
issues of social harmony and cohesion. This year the focus has been on local businesses as the
‘face’ of refugee communities residing in the Moorooka/Acacia Ridge corridor. This work has
led to some great collaboration with Brisbane City Council, businesses and the local Moorooka
community. MDA has also partnered with Enactus, a volunteer based group of entrepreneurs who
have developed a peer mentoring program for new refugee-led businesses.
below  Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs, Glen Elmes MP during a visit
to Moorooka small businesses.
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Meet Your Neighbours
This 12 month project culminated in March 2013 with activities to celebrate Harmony Day across
the three project sites of Banyo, Carole Park/Ellen Grove and Acacia Ridge. Successful events were
organised by community members in collaboration with local schools, Brisbane City Council,
community centres and commercial businesses. The key impact of this project is the community
relationships and structures that now exist from which other initiatives can grow.
The Meet Your New Neighbours project provided an opportunity for MDA to develop a place-
based community building focus to its work that has now extended beyond the suburbs of Acacia
Ridge, Banyo and Carole Park.The project has also attracted the interest of other service providers
and community groups and extensions of this work are planned for other areas such as Zillmere,
Nundah and Inala.
Grants Access Support
The Grants Access Program, funded through the Queensland Government’s Community Action for
a Multicultural Society (CAMS) program, provides culturally and linguistically diverse community
groups with information and support to access grants for their community projects and to develop
an understanding of available resources and build skills for good stewardship of these resources.
The Grants Access program continues to fulfil its function of helping new and emerging community
groups to access a range of funding available through philanthropic, community and government
sources to further their integration and development.
The Grants worker helps community members to understand the funding options that are available,
develop ideas and proposals and to apply for a wide range of funding. Successful applications are
followed up with assistance to ensure that applicants understand the value of resources that the
funding gains and the responsible stewardship of those resources. Training is also provided for
community groups to develop the skills to manage and acquit their projects.
This year the program has distributed information to hundreds of enquirers; provided face to face
training to 108 members of new and emerging communities and workshops and information
sessions to 178 clients, including some in Wide Bay and Rockhampton.
The known number of successful applications for 2012 – 2013 is 77, with over $500,000 gained
for grass roots community projects.
“for Imanzi (Rwandan dance and drumming troupe)… travelling to performances
was very difficult before. Without a commuter bus, it was very hard for members to
meet up for rehearsals, concerts or to go on tour.
Imanzi lends the bus to any community that needs it… allowing the community to
come together much more easily.
ThesupportwereceivethroughMDAtoapplyforgrantshasmadeaverybigdifference
to our community. We are very grateful to MDA for their support,”
MsEsperanceNyirabarahinyuza,PresidentoftheRwandanAssociationofQueensland
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VOLUNTEERS
New ways to be involved
Volunteering with MDA provides an opportunity for members of the community to give, learn
and connect with its clients. The key focus this year has been to introduce ways volunteers can
support clients and teams across MDA.
This year the volunteer pool has really expanded.There are now approximately 300 people who are
registered as MDA volunteers.The volunteer team is becoming an increasingly multicultural group
as well, with every continent of the world represented. We also have several people volunteering
who are repaying the support they received when they came as refugees many years ago.
Over the past year the volunteer program has diversified while continuing to maintain and improve
the very meaningful Family Match program. Volunteers have provided support in: Job Club, Chai
Time, CitizenshipTest Support, Driving Learner’s Handbook tutoring, orientation activities, assisting
with advocacy projects, driving, assisting with cooking BBQs for clients, playing sports with clients,
helping to pack food packs and welcome packs.
MDA’S 2013 Lantern Parade Walk for Refugees and World Refugee Day Community Festival were
supported by our MDA volunteers as well as Suncorp employees who used their CorporateVolunteer
Day to support the events.Volunteers have also assisted with a host of other events and activities
including the Big Sing, Harmony Day, International Women’s Day and Carole Park Multicultural
Festival. Volunteers have also supported the development of Welcome Hubs.
Training for volunteers
From July 2012 – June 2013, 188 people were trained to become MDA volunteers. Ongoing learning
was also provided through professional development sessions and MDA’s‘Working with Refugees’
training. A number of volunteers have also attended free training offered byTAFE - English Language
and Literacy Services (TELLS) and Volunteer Tutor Courses.
Family Match makes connections
214volunteerswerematchedwithMDAfamilies/clientsintheFamilyMatchprogram.
As always, the Family Match program is one of the most significant ways that volunteers can
experience a meaningful connection with a person from another culture. This program also
provides clients with the opportunity to make a friend, receive emotional and English language
support, increase their confidence, independence and hope.
‘My work as a volunteer is very rewarding and I am very happy with the way MDA
supports volunteers by giving us the chance to help people who needs support from
the community in their successful settlement process. I am loving it!’
MDA volunteer
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VOLUNTEER MATCH LEADS TO FRIENDSHIP
Ending relationships of any kind is most often a difficult part of life, but not for MDA volunteer Alexander
Smythe and now former client Hamed Parsiani.The two decided to call quits on their client-volunteer
relationship as a means to opening up a new relationship – friendship. As Alexander says, they are
now simply‘mates’.
Alexander says he reached a point where he realized simply that‘Hamed doesn’t need me anymore.’
Yet the pair who are similar in age and share a mutual interest in outdoor activities have both come
to enjoy each other’s company and have remained in touch since the ending of their volunteer-client
agreement.
‘Now we’re free to just talk, have a beer and whinge about work. That’s what Aussies do!’said Smythe.
Smythe recalls the first time he learnt about Hamed from an MDA profile describing him as a‘young
male who likes physical exercise and wants to learn English’.
Hamed interrupts,‘Young? Nah, I’m getting old!’
Listening to them trading quips and laughing, it is hard to believe how far Hamed has come since
arriving in Australia with very limited English around a year ago. Hamed says that only a short six
months ago, Alex and himself would sit around and talk about one simple subject non-stop for an
hour or two, referring constantly to his trusty Farsi-English dictionary along the way. Hamed’s English
has progressed quickly with support from Alex, but due largely to his own determination to improve.
Alexander says that he was quickly impressed by Hamed’s attitude, including his determination to
learn English and gain meaningful employment.
‘Hamed came here for a life in Australia and he’s living a life in Australia. He’s here to embrace it,’he said.
As Hamed’s English continued to improve, the two set themselves the more challenging task of finding
employment. Hamed had worked in his native Iran repairing damage to car bumper bars and panels
and wished to resume similar work in Australia. The first challenge was communicating this work to
Alexander so the two could put together an effective resume.
Hamed asked family members at home to send photos from his previous workplace in Iran showing
him in action. The two then worked together for three weeks, asking each other more and more
questions until they were happy with the final product.
As a chef, Alexander is himself actively involved in the recruitment of new colleagues and understands
the importance of a good resume to making that vital first impression.
‘A lot of the time it’s obvious job applicants are just using a template, maybe from their job network.
With Hamed, I wanted to make sure that we really put the time and effort in to make his resume a
standout,’he said.
With a shiny new resume in hand, Hamed started knocking on the doors of automotive smash repair
companies in his local area and further afield.
But the doors finally opened through a stroke of good fortune. Hamed had been repairing the bumper
of one of his friends at home one day and his work did not go unnoticed by a friendly neighbour. The
neighbour made a phone call and Hamed was soon invited for a trial shift.
The boss had given him a day’s worth of tasks before leaving the office for a short while. When the
boss returned a couple of hours later, Hamed had completed his entire day’s work to immaculate
standards and was hired on the spot.
Hamed says that although his English had improved a lot before getting the job, his early days in the
workshop were an altogether new crash course in Aussie English.
‘The bosses were all speaking really, really fast…At first I couldn’t understand a word they were saying,’
said Hamed.
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But through perseverance, his comprehension improved day by day and he says that he can now
understand 99% of what his bosses say to him. Hamed has also learnt how speaking Aussie slang
makes people quicker to warm up.
‘When I’m speaking Aussie it makes people happy. Howzitgoin mate?’
Hamed continues to study English two nights a week while working fulltime.
‘I’m very proud to be paying tax. I’m satisfied with my life now. Things are getting better,’he said.
JUAN’S SMILE WILL STAY IN OUR HEARTS
In December last year, we heard of the sad passing of an MDA volunteer who will be forever missed by
all who knew him. Juan Galaz was an extraordinary man. Originally from Chile, Juan made the decision to
come to Australia for safety decades ago, and brought up his family in the Brisbane suburb of Kenmore.
He enjoyed a long working life before coming to join MDA as a volunteer in 2009 where he served
clients and staff with the utmost passion and dedication.
Juan was invaluable in improving the lives of many clients and staff, transporting people to important
health appointments or between new stages of their settlement. Juan quickly left a strong impression
on everyone who worked alongside him as a generous, genuine, compassionate and understanding
man who had a twinkle in his eye and a zest for life.
He was passionate about his children and all they achieved; he loved his beautiful wife and enjoyed
life to the full. A great conversationalist, Juan could often be found in the MDA kitchen, early for his
pick up of a client with his newspaper and in conversation about the political state of the country
while sharing his empathy.
As an avid soccer player, Juan jumped at the opportunity to be on the field during MDA Stormboys
matches in a local friendly competition at the El Salvadorian club in Yeronga, where on Friday nights,
to the sounds of South American pop opera drifting across the grassy fields, he showed the younger
members a level of finesse, skill and agility that truly belied his age.
MDA staff and supporters, shocked and saddened by the news of Juan’s death, wanted to share an
occasion marking Juan’s passing with his family and held a memorial during January in the Brisbane
Multicultural Centre’s Community Space.
A plaque has been placed in the space inscribed:
‘In Memory of Juan Galaz, a gracious, passionate and kind man who served as a volunteer, selflessly
supporting the staff and clients of the Multicultural Development Association from 2009 to 2012.’
‘Tu sonrisa permanecerá en nuestros corazones.’
‘Your smile will stay in our hearts.’(Spanish proverb)
And it will.
7	 BrisbaneMulticulturalCentre
TheBrisbaneMulticulturalCentre(BMC)continuestohostamultitudeofactivitiesfor
the multicultural community of Brisbane throughout the year. MDA and co-tenant,
the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT)
use the facilities for their own community activities as well as offering them to many
community groups free or at low cost.
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Expert panel member visits BMC
Paris Aristotle AM, member of the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, visited the
Brisbane Multicultural Centre during the year to brief community leaders, stakeholders and MDA
staff about the 22 key recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers.
As well as being a member of the Expert Panel, Paris is the Director of the Victorian Foundation
for Survivors of Torture Inc. (VFST) and Executive Member of the Forum of Australian Services for
Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT). Paris brought over 25 years experience in the field of
supporting refugees and asylum seekers to his presentation and answered many questions after
the briefing.
above  Paris Aristotle with MDA staff member Allahyar Abbassi and family
Communities come together at BMC
Many community groups were again able to use the facilities of the Brisbane Multicultural Centre
to celebrate national holidays and cultural events and also for formal community meetings
and practical information sessions. A row of lockers on the first floor of the BMC provides office
storage and an‘office address’for the leaders of the many cultural groups who use the Brisbane
Multicultural Centre to come together.
above  MDA staff celebrating with community members
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DIVERSITY CHOIR
One of the many community groups that make the Brisbane Multicultural Centre their home is
MDA’s Diversity Choir.
For the love of singing
We’ve all heard those tired clichés of librarians peering sternly over the top of their bifocals, and
shushing at the whispers of children who dare to break the silence.
But things don’t quite play out this way in Brisbane town, and especially not during the early
months of the year when the MDA Diversity Choir dazzled patrons across the Brisbane City Council
library network with a nine-stop tour of their uplifting vocal harmonies.
Choir Director, Mr Prince Williams, says the tour came about when the choir performed at an
Ethnic Communities Council of Qld event late last year. A library staff member there loved what
she experienced, and set the wheels in motion for the choir to perform as part of the library
network’s activity program.
‘It was really successful and we were able to recruit more members as people approached us to
learn about the choir. Some of the members we have now are from those‘sings’,’said Prince.
MDA Choir Liaison, Joyce Taylor, says it was great to bring the group’s talent and passion to an
entirely different audience.
‘What was really interesting is we had people from different cultural backgrounds who came and
watched us.We were able to bring diversity to a lot of different people through music,’said Joyce.
This opportunity was one of several crowning highlights for the choir throughout the year. In
addition to a busy performance schedule, the group was also successful in its application for a
grant through the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.
The grant has enabled the choir to add further magic to its music through the purchase of keyboards
and other percussive instruments.
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For Prince, having the opportunity to recognize publicly the contributions of choir members
through certificates of appreciation was also a defining part of the year. This happened during
the choir’s Big Sing event in October.
‘The choir is just a voluntary thing. But the choir members being so committed makes it a very
big thing,’said Prince.
Prince’s role, too, is entirely voluntary and, according to the man himself, he wouldn’t have it any
other way.
‘I just really love music,’said Prince.
‘I spend most of my down time on music. Apart from work, going to university, and a couple of
hours to work on assignments, the rest of my time I spend on music…listen to songs, do a couple
of recordings, work with the choir.That’s what I’ve done all my life. My whole family is very musical,’
he said.
JoyceTaylor says the choir also offers a great way for new arrivals to connect with the community,
build confidence, and practice their English while having a lot of fun along the way.
‘When our new clients come in, they get to network with people from different cultural backgrounds,
so it helps them with language and network building,’said Joyce.
The MDA Diversity Choir is famous for welcoming new members with open arms and, as always,
is on the hunt for new recruits.
There is some kind of collective folklore that says with regards to singing, ‘you either have it or
you don’t’. Prince Williams couldn’t disagree more.
‘I like to meet people who think that they can’t sing, have no musical background, and don’t know
a lot about singing,’said Prince.
‘But that’s where I say, ‘nothing is impossible, it is possible, you can sing!’ Because, we can work
along with people who have no idea about music, but just working with people, they can learn
to sing a particular tune. Whoever wants to sing can sing. We will support and encourage you in
every way,’he said.
To find out more about the choir or to get involved, email Joyce at joycet@mdabne.org.au
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NORTHSIDE OFFICE REACHES OUT TO
COMMUNITY
MDA had cause for celebration with the official opening of its new northside office space in Nundah
on the 15th March 2013. Located close to the Nundah Railway Station and to a full suite of other
services and community infrastructure, the move places MDA in a stronger position to provide
superior services to clients residing in the northern suburbs.
A stroll through the heart of Nundah is all that’s needed to reveal a suburb in rapid transition
including gentrification as new road links have brought the suburb closer to the‘inner city’.
Nundah and surrounding suburbs have also become increasingly culturally diverse partly through
the establishment of former refugee communities. According to latest census data, 21.63% of people
living in the Lilley Electorate were born overseas and 7.73% speak a language other than English
at home. This is close to the state and national averages, making the electorate a multicultural
representative of the wider community.
MDA Employment and Training team leader, Ben Christie, understands the full meaning of this
move better than most, having been stationed at MDA’s earlier Windsor northside office for the
past two years.
‘I think it’s great because we’re right in the thick of things now. Many of our clients live in Nundah
or neighbouring suburbs like Zillmere, Chermside and Banyo. We’re seeing clients getting more
appropriate service by having a presence here,’said Ben.
For case workers like Julie-AnneWood, the close proximity to clients and other services is contributing
greatly to the efficiency of client work.
‘I’m finding that it’s brilliant because we’re part of the community and are so close to other resources.
Organizations like the Nundah Community Centre are just up the road. They have a community
legal service which is great for our clients. Many of our clients can walk to our office and it’s easy
for me to visit clients close by, often walking there,’said Julie-Anne.
Julie-Anne has had the pleasure of working with some of our newest communities in recent months
including the emerging Bhutanese community based largely in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.
‘Family members already here are really rallying behind the new arrivals and even helping out
with their cultural orientation which is really nice,’she said.
right  Members of the northside community and MDA staff gather together for the official opening of the
new MDA office in Nundah
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8	 Intheregions
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ROCKHAMPTON OFFICE
Settlement Central Queensland style
After a frenetic first year setting up and focusing mainly on casework and individual clients, the
MDA Rockhampton team has moved into a new phase of its evolution, forging strong connections
with the broader Rocky community.
Community linkages are a critical part of good settlement says Rockhampton team leader and
case manager, Liam Mayo.
‘The transition for us this last year has been through a lot of our community engagement work.
The community networks we’ve created here have feathered out well,’said Mayo.
According to Liam, such partnerships are also helping to meet the needs of bridging visa clients
in a big way.
‘We’ve got a partnership with the Catholic Church and church members now donate a lot of stuff
forWelcome Packs like razors, shaving cream, dishwashing liquid, sponges and so on. It’s become
a big thing now, they tell their friends in the community and they get in touch and want to help
out in the best ways that they can. It’s fantastic,’he said.
Walk Together celebrations in Rockhampton this year showcased just how far MDA’s place in the
community has come, with church groups, community organizations and schools squarely behind
the promotion of the event through their respective networks.
‘Seeing organizations like CQ Centacare and Anglicare get behind our Walk Together as sponsors
is really indicative of the growing community awareness and support,’Mayo said.
Things have also been moving forward on the employment scene. Employment opportunities on
offer at the local meatworks were previously the main driver for clients choosing to re-locate to
Rockhampton.There is no mistaking that this is a tough line of work and, without other settlement
support firmly in place, turnover was high. Since MDA has set up a strong presence in town, staff
retention has increased dramatically.
‘But because guys are coming here and the MDA office can support them with their housing and
medical stuff, they’re staying on longer. They’re staying years now, it’s really good,’Liam said.
This has created the need for MDA to widen its engagement with local employers in different
industry areas, generating some exciting new employment opportunities. Fields of employment for
current and former clients now include various industrial trades, hospitality, transport, horticulture
and hospitality.
LiambelievesthatRockhamptonwillcontinuetoattractnewarrivalsforitsemploymentopportunities
and that the success of employment pipelines owes a lot to the work ethic and skills of MDA clients.
‘If there is a vacancy that comes up, employers will often ring us straight away, and let us know
there’s a vacancy and they want to recruit again. They’ll liaise with us to make that happen. We
have some really solid partnerships now,’he said.
One of these community organisations is Sanctuary Central Queensland which was set up specifically
to welcome refugees to Central Queensland. This year, they joined with many other community
groups and individuals to support the Walk Together:
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Rocky youth welcome refugees
People who took part in Rockhampton’s WalkTogether parade in June did so with full bellies thanks
to a crew of enthusiastic young students from the Rockhampton Grammar School.
The ten young volunteers hosted a free sausage sizzle, feeding around 200 people before the
parade set off from the Rockhampton PCYC across the Fitzroy River for a multicultural community
concert at the River Stage.
The students are all participants in the school’s ‘Sanctuary’ group which undertakes a variety of
activities to support refugees and asylum seekers settle in the community.
Led by school chaplain, Mr Cameron Venables, the group is an outgrowth of Sanctuary Central
Queensland whichVenables first set up in 2005 as a way to welcome refugees into the Rockhampton
community.
Mr Venables believes that negative stereotyping such as the‘Me Generation’tends to downplay
the capability of young people to make a real difference in the community.
‘Sometimes I think we underestimate young people and the capacity of young people to care
about stuff,’said Mr Venables.
‘I think that some young people feel that the situation is so bad in lots of different areas, whether
it’s the environment or refugees or whatever, that there’s nothing they can do about it…
‘But this sort of program helps young people to recognize, ‘hey, I can make a difference.’ And so
there’s a lovely sense of accomplishment for young people when they realize they’re making a
difference in the community, and that positively affects their ambitions,’Mr Venables said.
Launch of Settlement Works
In October 2012,the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP launched Settlement
Works, an MDA publication that celebrates the successful settlement of refugees in the Rockhampton
region. The report highlights that refugees, through their strong desire for employment, are
willing to re-locate to regional centres where critical labour shortages exist and that this, and their
motivation to sustain their employment, makes an important economic contribution to our State.
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TOOWOOMBA OFFICE
ToowoombaRegionalCouncilbecamethethirdlocalgovernmentareainQueensland
to become a ‘Refugee Welcome Zone’ on June 22, 2013.
Community Engagement
In 2013,Toowoomba was nominated by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship as a trial
site to settle refugee women at risk. This group is the largest unlinked client cohort by visa class,
and they represent 12% of the department’s total Humanitarian Settlement Services off-shore
intake. Many of these women have no known family or close associates in their new region.
MDA Toowoomba has been collaborating with local communities to set the foundation for the
settlement of women at risk. The Local Area Coordination (LAC) network contributions and
the participation of key stakeholder service providers has responded to the unique needs and
aspirations of refugee families by identifying and implementing strategies and partnerships that
will assist the long-term settlement outcome for new groups.
To ensure MDA listens to local communities’needs and respond to expectations, it has established
advisory groups consisting of key stakeholders in both Toowoomba and Rockhampton. These
groups provide invaluable insight and guidance, as well as feedback.
Toowoomba offers a unique welcome
The ‘Terrible Twos’ is a time in childhood development famous for testing the mettle of all but
the most patient of parents. But the abundant parklands and wide open spaces in Toowoomba
offers the perfect antidote, according to MDA operations worker and father of two, Fikre Desta.
‘The good thing about living in Toowoomba is you can just take your kids and release them in
the biggest park around.They run off all their energy really quickly,’Fikre smiled. After re-locating
from Brisbane earlier this year, Fikre says that Toowoomba is the perfect place for young families.
‘Living in a regional town is a really unique experience. Everything is just around the corner, and
people are really easy to approach,’he said. Fikre believes these same qualities provide fantastic
benefits to new arrivals during the early stages of their settlement.
‘I’ve spoken recently to many newly arrived clients about life in Toowoomba. Sometimes they
think it will be boring here, and say that they want to move to Sydney or Melbourne. I encourage
them to at least give the place a chance before making up their minds. Usually they end up really
liking it,’he said.
Just as Toowoomba has made him feel welcome, Fikre likes to extend the same hospitality to
clients in his day-to-day work.‘Everyone who comes through the door I greet with a big smile so
they know they are in a welcoming atmosphere. Personally, I like to be delighted and happy in my
work. Whatever language they speak, a smile always goes a long way,’said Fikre.
Fikre migrated from Ethiopia to Australia in 2009 to complete his studies in accounting at Bond
University. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to bring greater transparency and accountability
to projects in developing countries. In the meantime, he is proud to call Toowoomba home and
hopes that his own ‘new arrival’, two month-old son Immanuel, will have every opportunity to
appreciate what the town has to offer.
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Hard work leads to independence
In July 2012, a single Rwandan mother arrived with her four children at Brisbane International Airport
where they were received by a cultural support worker from MDA who spoke the same language.
‘I can still remember that day. We arrived in Brisbane at midnight and there were people at the
airport waiting for us. It was not hard for us because the people who received us could speak with
us and understand us. Other people were also welcoming us. I still appreciate that,’said Janviere
Dusabinema Nzabamwit.
Only nine months later, Janviere was the successful applicant for a customer service role at Masters
Home Improvers in Toowoomba where she continues to work 24 hours a week.
‘I am working in customer service, so have learnt a lot about how to work with customers. How
best to serve them, and also using the checkout machines,’said Janviere.
‘We have almost 37 000 products in stock. It’s not easy! But slowly, slowly. Everyday I’m learning
something new,’she said.
Janviere’s determination to gain employment came from a place of never again wanting to depend
on others for the survival of herself and her children.
‘When I came to Toowoomba, I just wanted to get work. I always worked with my job network,
and I was looking at everything. I got a lot of support from MDA, writing a resume and learning
other things. I didn’t want to depend on Centrelink. My family and I have to depend on ourselves,’
Janviere said.
‘Masters called me in for an interview. I did the interview and got the job. I was so happy,’she said.
Janviere’s children, three girls aged 4,5 and 16, and son, aged 17, are also adapting to life in Australia
remarkably quickly. Her son, Patrick, has gained an apprenticeship as a café barista while her
eldest daughter has joined the army cadets. All of her children are attending school or preschool.
These successes come as the realization of important dreams for Janviere and her children.
‘I just wanted them to have a good future, going to school, finishing university and having good jobs
here in Australia. I am always praying that things will go this way.They can have that here,’she said.
As a refugee in Kenya, Janviere’s focus on supporting her children was matched closely by her drive
to support the people around her, especially women and children, who had survived the traumas
of the Rwandan genocide and the ongoing difficulties of life in a refugee camp.
‘When I was in the camp, I did health work, teaching people about sexually transmitted diseases,
HIV/AIDS and family planning. I also worked with women at risk, those doing prostitution because
they don’t have a choice, and vulnerable children,’said Janviere.
In Australia, Janviere has taken the same attitude of reaching out towards others, connecting
strongly to the new community she now calls home. Her family has close friends through the
family’s involvement in a local church, African dance group and other groups in the community.
Janviere also takes every opportunity to connect with other single parents in the Toowoomba
community, believing there is strength to be gained in sharing this experience with others.
‘Before I didn’t understand much about single parents, but now I understand what they all go
through. It’s good to know people in the community who are in the same situation…we share
our experiences,’she said.
Reflecting on her first year in Australia, Janviere is happy how far she and her children have come.
‘I appreciate everything. In one year, I can see I’ve made some big steps. In four years things will
be even better. Now we have a normal life.’
left  Community members, MDA staff and clients at Walk Together 2013 where Toowoomba Mayor Paul
Antonio declared Toowoomba a Refugee Welcome Zone
9	 Partnershipsandspecial
projects
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2012-2013_MDA_Annual_Report
2012-2013_MDA_Annual_Report
2012-2013_MDA_Annual_Report
2012-2013_MDA_Annual_Report
2012-2013_MDA_Annual_Report
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2012-2013_MDA_Annual_Report
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2012-2013_MDA_Annual_Report

  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4. 1 FOREWORD IV From the Chair of the Board 2 From the Chief Executive Officer 4 Multicultural Development Association 6 Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners 7 2 NEW ARRIVALS SUPPORT 9 3 ONGOING SUPPORT 14 4 YOUTH SETTLEMENT SERVICES 16 5 EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING 20 6 SOCIAL INCLUSION 26 Bicultural Support Services 30 Community engagement 31 Volunteers 33 CONTENTS 1 7 86 2
  • 5. 7 BRISBANE MULTICULTURAL CENTRE 36 Diversity Choir 38 Northside office reaches out to community 40 8 IN THE REGIONS 42 Rockhampton Office 43 Toowoomba Office 45 9 PARTNERSHIPS AND SPECIAL PROJECTS 48 Together we make a difference 49 Celebrating and welcoming Queenslanders from a refugee background 50 World Refugee Day Events 52 10 COMMUNITY ADVOCACY AND SOCIAL POLICY 54 11 CORPORATE SERVICES 60 Snapshot of Recruitment in 2012 – 2013 62 MDA Executive 64 MDA Board 66 Treasurer’s report 69 Summary: 2012 – 2013 financial year 70 Myth Busters 71 10 119 43 5 Disclaimer Multicultural Development Assosciation utilises CSnet©, a cross program internet based case management system that provides case management and statistical support to the organisation. The data shows the number of clients and their country of birth recorded on CSnet during the period 1/07/2012 – 30/06/2013. A client’s country of birth is provided by external sources or directly obtained from a client. No guarantee can be made for the data to be accurate, correct or complete.
  • 6. vi M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 1 Foreword WrittenbyayouthintheRefugeeYouthSupportPilotprogram,thefollowingstoryoffers a reminder of people’s motivation for making the journey to Australia. He describes the shift from living in fear to embracing the freedom which Australia has to offer. NEW BORN —YOU ARE JUST STARTING FROM ZERO ‘I was just referred from LifeWithoutBarriers, from Adelaide. And I just moved from Adelaide to Brisbane. I had never heard that name before, MDA. I didn’t have any friends here. The cracked earth photo (right) describes me before I started the program. Nothing, just like that. I was just zero, because I don’t have any hope. But the good thing, I liked in myself, I know a little bit English. But nothing more. I was, like, so sad at that time, that I don’t have anyone in Australia that can support me, that can show me that thing is right and that thing is wrong. But I believe in Allah that he can help me, he will help me. A dry desert. The biggest change in me since joining the program: In here, my behaviour with the people in Australia. Like, I am used that that behaviour now cause I have many friends who are Australian, and some other Chinese and Thai friends. Get together all the time. Before, I just scared, talking with them. Now I’m just friendly with them all. If you don’t know the behaviours, or how to behave to another one, it’s very hard for you. In different ways, in finding a job. I think it’s very hard for you if you don’t know some of this. Also, I improved my English here. The insert photo of the child (right) describes me now. It mean like, full of joy! I think I feel so much happy now because my life is safe in here. In Pakistan there is a situation of war and terror over there. So, I think the best is that I’m safe here so that’s why I’m so much happier. I want to be something like, in the future, I want to be a mechanic, in the future. They (MDA) just helped me in several ways, like they showed me how to achieve my goals. Like my case managers, they are very helpful to me. And they referred me to different education programs to improve my English.’
  • 7. 1M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3
  • 8. 2 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 FROM THE CHAIR OF THE BOARD The old saying goes that hindsight is a wonderful thing. The national conversation about asylum seekers, refugees and migrants continues to dishearten and dismay.What gives us solace is that in a generation’s time, we will look back with a sense of‘what was all the fuss about’because we will be overwhelmingly reaping the rewards and celebrating the good that came from this generation of new Australians, like so many before them. We know this because we have been here before. It is always a struggle for new arrivals as they try to find their feet in a new country; often different in language, culture and outlook from their homelands. Moreover, it is always a struggle for us as a country and people, as we try to adjust to new and different people, with their new ways of doing things. In the end, we come to a happy medium, as we become part of each other. Our children become the new generation of Australians; the doctors, engineers, plumbers, brick layers, entrepreneurs and small business owners of the future. Since federation, the 800,000 refugees welcomed by Australians have multiplied into a significant part of our population. Today; from first to fifth generations, it would be hard to find an Australian family that does not have a refugee or migrant ancestor. This is how we know that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are resilient and determined people. In whatever way they come to our shores, they do so because they want a better life than the cruel hand of persecution, war and injustice that they have been dealt. They crave the peace and freedoms that we take for granted. They are hungry for the opportunities they have been long denied. And when they finally get what they crave, seldom is it wasted. For you don’t spend years walking, running, struggling and waiting for peace and opportunity to then sit idle and see it go to waste. Australia’s new arrivals are typically determined to get established quickly; get a house, new skills; a job and start rebuilding their lives. As a result, they are often highly motivated to gain employment, including moving to regional areas for a job, often the jobs that many Australians reject.Through our work in the employment area, we are seeing first hand how refugees are helping revitalise regional and rural areas, such as Toowoomba and Rockhampton. As our population begins to age; as we have fewer children than the generation before; as the world’s economies change, especially in our region; the value of migration, in its various forms, will continue to be critical to building Australia’s future. These are the positive contributions of refugee and migrant settlement that we often don’t hear in the public conversation. It is a part of the argument that we in the multicultural and settlement sectors seldom add to the debate ourselves. We focus on cultural and culinary contributions in making our case for multiculturalism without also including the tangible differences our new arrivals have and continue to make to our communities. Both sides are important to creating our prosperous future. They are the arguments we must increasingly inject into public debate about refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. If we want to drown out the negativity, the incorrect labels of ‘queue jumpers’and‘illegal migrants’, then we must replace them with the positive and personal stories that humanise our new arrivals and showcase their achievements. Because then, they are not numbers anymore, they are not burdens on society but real people working hard to build a life for themselves and helping to build up our country, just like you and me. This has always been Australia’s history and it will be our future.We have for so long cherished the relatively harmonious multiculturalism that defines our national identity. It is important we do not lose sight of what an extraordinary social and cultural achievement this is and that we work hard to keep building it up.
  • 9. 3M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 This is one of the privileges of the work we do at MDA. From looking after asylum seekers in the community, settling refugees, supporting newly arrived migrants, advocating for their rights and celebrating their achievements, we literally get to contribute every day to our nation’s vibrant multiculturalism. This annual report outlines our year’s worth of effort in this regard. It has been an interesting and challenging year that has tested us on many fronts. I am proud of how we met these challenges, the outcomes we achieved and the opportunities we seized. I celebrate the dedication of MDA’s wonderful staff and volunteers; and I thank the partners who support MDA to make it all possible. I congratulate Kerrin Benson, CEO of MDA, and her management team for their strong and courageous leadership during these amazing times. It is an honour and a pleasure to chair this organisation. Sally Isles CHAIR OF THE BOARD
  • 10. this page  Kerrin Benson CEO of MDA with cast and crew of I Am Here and Director of Queensland Theatre Company Wesley Enoch 4 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Inayearthathasbeenconfronting,whathasdefinedMDAandourworkhasbeenour ferocious commitment to our core principles and vision. In this testing environment, our work in promoting multiculturalism and a welcoming society has become more important than ever. Our philosophy has always centred on respecting human rights and social justice principles of fairness, equity, opportunity and dignity for all people. Sometimes it seems our principles are disappearing from Australia’s collective response to the world’s growing refugee and asylum seeker problems. On this issue, there is a sense that our nation is at a crossroads. Yet, I don’t think we as a people are; certainly not from the continuing acts of goodwill, support and encouragement that we see from ordinary members of the community, and not just from the usual suspects. We see acts of support from elderly ladies raising funds for asylum seeker clients, big brand corporations gifting clothes and equipment, private school kids donating food and families volunteering to support newly arrived refugee families.
  • 11. 5M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 These have been some of the many highlights this year. It seems the growing perception by the media and our leaders of community aversion to refugees and asylum seekers only brings out more people determined to prove otherwise. These acts of support, big and small, continue to strengthen my belief that Australians will not lose the national moral compass on these critical issues. As MDA continues to expand, with significant growth this year, we have not lost sight of our guiding principles.While our scale is different, our operations and organisational culture are clear and focused on our vision and purpose. Indeed our significant growth has increased our capacity to support more people in their settlement journeys. This has been the result of the expanded humanitarian program. We were delighted to see the federal government expand the program to 20,000, meaning more refugees getting the opportunity of sanctuary, safety and a new home; often after years of waiting. Our work in supporting the over 2,000 asylum seekers who have sought Australia’s protection continues to be a privilege. It really is. Many people have lost their lives, and more have experienced the trauma of seeing friends and family drown on those dangerous boat journeys. We see the human face of this grief and I have been extremely proud of the cultural competence MDA staff demonstrate in supporting our clients around loss. We also see the human face of global conflict, displacement and the courage it takes to seek asylum. It’s bringing out the best in us and reminding us of why we do this work and why it’s important. Because we know that behind the statistics are the real people who are counting on us. The work we do with asylum seekers is especially challenging, particularly in this complex policy environment. It has been motivation for us to be more daring and innovative in how we support their needs and advocate for their rights. Opportunities like my membership on the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention provide avenues to advocate for our clients and contribute to advice government seeks on asylum issues. A personal highlight was seeing a shift from processing asylum seekers through mandatory detention to aligning with international practices by processing people in the community, and I am proud MDA stepped up to assist. MDA stepped up in many other areas this year. Our ventures in Toowoomba, Rockhampton and Nundah are yielding many successes. Our training program continues to build sector competence in working with refugees. Our social media community has more than doubled as we continue to increase our online community engagement. Our news media engagement has also expanded this year, creating opportunities to share our clients’stories and successes within the wider community. We continue to build new partnerships across diverse sectors, from the theatre world to agriculture and everything in between. Our partners are providing great employment opportunities for our clients and supporting our public celebrations including the LanternParadeWalkforRefugeesand the WorldRefugeeDayCommunityFestival to celebrate the contributions of refugee communities. This year, Toowoomba city chose to celebrate the contributions of its refugee communities by becoming a RefugeeWelcome Zone.This was simply fabulous to see, and in a climate that lacks so much leadership, it is important to acknowledge governments that lead by example. In the areas of multicultural policy, community development, building partnerships and funding support, we value the contributions all levels of government make to complement our work. I am so proud to be part of an organisation that in a year of policy challenges and a large scale up, adapted, innovated and just got on with it. Moreover, our staff did it all with smiles on their faces, our volunteers gave us a bit more of their time and effort, our board showed leadership to guide us forward, our members gave their unwavering support, our clients continued to receive great service, and showed that all that seems impossible, hopeless and lost may not be so after all. Kerrin Benson CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
  • 12. 6 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION ThisyearMDArosetoanumberofsignificantchallenges,includingarapidexpansion to its New Arrivals programs, with its signature enthusiasm and flexibility. 4025 clients from 66 different countries were supported overall. The social inclusion programwasrampeduptosupportthoseclientsaswellasworkingwithpeoplefrom 20 different local communities. MDA’s employment team helped around 600 clients toward economic participation and the Brisbane Multicultural Centre resounded to the sound of countless community celebrations and activities 7 days a week. Who we are We are a specialist Queensland-based multicultural agency established in 1998 which has grown into a vibrant community of members, paid staff, volunteers, clients, partners and stakeholders with the same goals of strengthened multiculturalism in Queensland and of full participation and equal opportunity for refugees and migrants in our community. MDA partners with government, not for profits, community stakeholders, the corporate sector and volunteers using casework, education and skilling, community activities and advocacy to welcome, support, orientate and integrate asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to create new citizens willing and able to contribute to the Australian community and economy. We have offices in Woolloongabba and Nundah in Brisbane city as well as offices in the regional cities of Toowoomba and Rockhampton. What we work towards We work towards an inclusive, united, multicultural society which values and celebrates cultural diversity and which provides welcome, safety and pathways to full participation and equal opportunity for refugees and migrants. What we do ■■ provide services to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to enable successful settlement ■■ facilitate new and emerging community groups ■■ promote cultural diversity across the whole community ■■ promote a better understanding of settlement, asylum seeker, refugee and migration issues ■■ work to strengthen the sense of welcome and safety extended to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants by the broader community. ■■ advocate to decision makers and service providers to improve policy, programs and services
  • 13. 7M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF TRADITIONAL OWNERS MDA acknowledges Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander people as the first people of this country. Australia’s Indigenous people are ancient with relationships to the land, each other and others since time immemorial. In having survived and endured the historical injustices of colonisation upon their lands and peoples, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders hold a unique role in Australia and the world. MDA deeply respects and values Australia’s Indigenous People’s enormous resilience, courage, determination and often unrecognised contribution to this country’s social and economic development. below  Welcome to country at Lantern Parade Walk for Refugees 2013
  • 14. 8 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 2 NewArrivalsSupport The services provided to new arrivals in the Brisbane and Central Coast regions are delivered by a New Arrivals Support (NAS) Team, which comprises the: ■■ Community Assistance Support (CAS) Team ■■ Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (ASAS) Team ■■ Community Determination (CD) Team ■■ Refugee Settlement Support (RSS) Team and ■■ Social Inclusion (SI) Team The combining of these teams under one umbrella allows for effective communication and planning across the organisation and ensures a client’s journey through programs is streamlined and co-ordinated. The New Arrivals Support Team provides on-arrival support to asylum seekers and refugees. This includes: ■■ asylum seekers living in the community who are still under the care of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship; ■■ asylum seekers living in the community on Bridging Visa E and ■■ refugees, with visas granted both off-shore and on-shore. The New Arrivals Support Team undertakes case management and settlement services, life skills education and orientation as well as group activities and linking to mainstream community services and activities. ERITREA SRI LANKA NEPAL MYANMAR/BURMA BHUTAN BANGLADESH THAILAND AFGHANISTAN PAKISTAN IRAN SOMALIA AUSTRALIA (BORN IN) CONGO, DEM REPUBLIC SUDAN CONGO BURUNDI ETHIOPIA KENYA IRAQ Top 20 countries of origin of MDA clients
  • 15. 9M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 CAS/ASAS clients’main countries of birth Community Determination clients’main countries of birth Refugee Settlement Services clients’main countries of birth Other 10% Bangladesh 6% Pakistan 7% Myanmar/Burma 7% Afghanistan 18% Iran 19% Sri Lanka 33% Sri Lanka 5% Congo, Dem Republic 6% Myanma/Burma 7% Iraq 7% Afghanistan 16% Iran 22% Other 37% Other 13% Pakistan 1% Stateless Person 4% Myanmar/Burma 4% Iraq 12% Iran 35% Sri Lanka 31%
  • 16. 10 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3
  • 17. 11M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Community Assistance Support (CAS) and Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (ASAS) programs In2012–2013,theCommunityAssistanceSupport(CAS)andAsylumSeekerAssistance Scheme (ASAS)Teams worked with 1394 clients. In July 2012, MDA commenced support work with asylum seekers for the first time. This work is funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. MDA established and implemented two new programs, Community Assistance Support and Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme. The CAS program consists of six-weeks case management for asylum seekers on bridging visas. The support provides transitional accommodation and assistance to link into relevant health and social support services. During this time a Client Needs Assessment takes place to ascertain the level of ongoing support required. The majority of clients then transfer to the ASAS program, where they receive health support and needs-based financial assistance. For the first nine months of the CAS/ASAS Programs, clients comprised single men and women. From May 2013, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship started referring families to the CAS Program. Most of MDA’s CAS and ASAS clients are from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh. KEEPING HOPE ALIVE Offering support to people to keep hope alive in times of great uncertainty is not an easy task. But this is the name of the game for MDA case manager, Sibo Ngwenya, in her work with asylum seekers. ‘One thing I try to remind clients is just how far they’ve come, and that to give up hope is abandoning everything they’ve fought for… because it’s a big deal getting on a boat,’said Sibo. In the past, employment opportunities were an important source of hope and well-being for asylum seekers, who could focus their minds on working and on sending money home to their families. Sibo says that in the current context, where many clients do not have work rights, providing support to asylum seekers to take part in meaningful activities and connect to the community not only promotes positive mental health, but also provides the best possible head-start for asylum seekers in the event they are granted a permanent protection visa. ‘What we do is to try and draw on the positive,’said Sibo. ‘Through working with MDA’s Social Inclusion program, our work is now about linking asylum seekers to meaningful activities and helping them to access volunteer positions in their own communities. In the case they do get protection visas, they know where to start looking for jobs and they’ve made those kind of networks already,’she said. In addition to the focus on community connections and meaningful activities, asylum-seeking clients also receive support to connect with important services, to learn about life in Australia, and to access English classes through the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) after they have secured stable, long-term rental housing. ‘I always try to encourage clients to take advantage of the services being offered here, for example, torture and trauma counselling,’said Sibo. With processing now having been resumed for asylum seekers, Sibo says that she is now seeing the rewards both of her own perseverance and the resilience and courage of her clients. ‘One of my clients got his protection visa a little while back. He now works for a social housing provider, he’s bought his own car and is settling really well. That’s a really good success story and for me has been a really amazing thing to see,’she said.
  • 18. 12 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Community Determination Program In 2012 – 2013 the Community Determination Team worked with 283 clients. MDA started working with people living in the community under the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Community Detention Program in August 2012. Clients in this program are asylum seekers waiting for a decision on their visa applications. Clients in this program are either in family groups or vulnerable adult men. Since commencement, the Community DeterminationTeam has supported over 280 individual clients, with approximately 80% forming part of a family group. In the Community Determination Program, the team provides support with housing, healthcare, education and Department of Immigration and Citizenship-supported financial assistance. The team also provides access to meaningful activities, such as approved volunteering work or social activities like barbeques and attendance at a range of MDA activities including RefugeeWeek events. Humanitarian Settlement Scheme In 2012 – 2013, the Refugee Settlement Services Team worked with 1495 clients. The Refugee Settlement Services Team provides settlement services under the Department of Immigration’s Humanitarian Settlement Scheme to Refugees and Special Humanitarian clients.These services include: meeting clients at the airport, undertaking needs assessments and developing a comprehensive case management plan, which will include linking clients to housing, health, and educational services. The services extend for up to 12 months. This year there was a trend of people being granted Permanent Protection (866) Visas on shore in the early part of the year but this changed to an off-shore client group in the later few months of the period. Humanitarian clients came from over 55 different countries, with the majority arriving from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka. There was an increased caseload from Somalia and Ethiopia towards the end of the financial year. BRISBANE IS HOME - AFTER 20 YEARS IN REFUGEE CAMPS Man Bahadur Rai arrived in Australia on the 18th January 2012 with his great-grandson, Bala Ram, after spending over 20 years in Beldangi 2 refugee camp and Timai refugee camp in the far east of Nepal. Man Bahadur was born in the isolated Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan and earlier this year celebrated his 85th birthday. Man Bahadur Rai spent the majority of his life as a Yak farmer (a Bhutanese type of shepherd) prior to fleeing Bhutan in the early 1990’s. Since 1991 a large number of Bhutan’s people have sought asylum in Nepal, India and other countries around the world. Australia has settled many of these people through its Humanitarian Program. Although he identifies as Bhutanese, Man Bahadur speaks Nepalese and it was his Nepalese ancestry that played a part in forcing him to flee Bhutan. Man Bahadur arrived in Australia on a Health alert noting that he could only walk small distances. However, on arrival at Brisbane International Airport Man Bahadur stated that he was in good health and felt very young – able to walk distances of up to 5 kilometres (a short distance in his opinion!). He attributes his youthful looks and great health to what he calls ‘the secret to long life’– Yak butter (a Himalayan staple). MDA invited Man Bahdur to the Lifeskills Settlement Orientation Program when he arrived in Brisbane. He and his great-grandson attended each session for two weeks, quietly taking in the new information and greeting fellow attendees with the traditional Bhutanese word of ‘Namaskar’. Man Bahadur also began to embrace the traditional Australian handshake as well as clasping his hands together in a prayer position to encourage a traditional salute.
  • 19. 13M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Man Bahadur enjoys reading and studying at his home as well as spending time with close family. He is currently reading and studying the ancient Hindu text‘Bhagavad Gita’; a 700–verse Hindu scripture that is said to be over 5000 years old. Man Bahadur’s family states that he provides sound advice to the family members on a number of issues. After six months of settlement in Australia, Man Bahadur and Bala Ram were recently reunited with other family members from the Bhutanese Refugee Camps. The Bhutanese community including Bala Ram welcomed the family at Brisbane International Airport alongside MDA Refugee Settlement Services team members. Man Bahadur, MDA’s oldest client, is quietly content living with, and being cared for by, his loved ones in Zillmere, Brisbane. this page  Man Bahadur Rai, MDA’s oldest client, with Kerrin Benson, CEO of MDA
  • 20. 14 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 3 Ongoingsupport
  • 21. 15M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Continuing Settlement Services In2012–2013the ContinuingSettlementServicesteamworkedwith759clientsand made 1000 referrals to other agencies. The work of the Continuing Settlement Services team is financed through the Settlement Grants Program from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The team works with clients who have been permanent residents for 12 months and continues for up to 5 years. Their work aims to increase clients’ independence, knowledge and ability to access mainstream services. This is achieved through casework, referrals, group information sessions, family relationship workshops and women’s support groups and youth being linked to sporting activities. The Continuing Settlement Services team has offered a combination of the following programs to different communities including Karen, Iraqi, Iranian, Tamil, Afghan and Rohingya: ■■ Breast screening Qld information ■■ social housing and homelessness – improving knowledge in accessing long term accommodation ■■ Centrelink services and understanding payments and recent changes and reporting ■■ Domestic Violence (DV)and the Law to DV victims ■■ Safe Driving and Learner Licence Support series ■■ personal wellbeing ■■ independence ■■ economic wellbeing ■■ social participation The programs have proven successful with increased awareness, knowledge and problem solving observed. The Settlement Grants Program is now being offered through MDA’s new Nundah office and northside referrals are increasing. A weekly pilot outreach service at Acacia Ridge began in March 2013. Intensive Support Services MDA’s Intensive Support Services team is a panel member on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship funded Complex Case Support program to deliver intensive case management to support individuals and families experiencing extreme hardship and complex issues that are impacting on their settlement.While most clients have resided in Australia for more than 6 months, some clients are identified as having complex needs requiring support before the initial 6 month period has lapsed. Complex case support is provided by MDA across Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton andToowoomba. MDA continues to subcontract toTownsville Multicultural Support Group which has also provided proactive, intensive and responsive Complex case support to clients in this region. Over the year, the Intensive Support Services team has worked with 23 cases, including 12 families. Within these cases, MDA has provided support for 45 children. MDA continues to advocate strongly for the most vulnerable new families and individuals and continues to strive to enable people needing additional support and encouragement to be accepted into specialist and mainstream services. While the complex case referrals received by MDA have decreased over this financial year, the team have been able to maintain an agile and robust response to identified client needs, and maintain a professional, culturally appropriate and responsive approach to supporting clients. MDA has achieved success in meeting all key performance measures.
  • 23. 17M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 ThefollowingYouthSettlementServicesworkismostlyfundedthroughtheDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship’s Settlement Grants Program. Over the past year this workhasincorporatedcasework,aSocialNetworkLeadersProgram,individualgroup activities and information sessions, continued support of the Youth Representative Committee, and a community project – Youth Exposed. The Refugee Youth Support Pilot was a program funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. High Schools outreach MDA provides case work assistance at Milpera, Yeronga, Kedron and other state high schools including Macgregor and Sunnybank. This financial year MDA supported 100 clients through case work. Referrals are made on a needs basis through case work and a total of 881 formal and informal referrals were made. Outcomes of these referrals included: ■■ linking students to recreational programs such as mainstream soccer and gyms; ■■ linking with mainstream organisations such as 4EB, Headspace, Inala Youth Service, Child and Youth Mental Health Service, Zig Zag and Brisbane Youth Service; ■■ linking students with their public libraries; ■■ facilitating links between students and the auxiliary school staff to secure on-site assistance at school; ■■ providing a link between services as well as services and schools to best meet the needs of young people; ■■ providing enrolment support at feeder schools after Milpera; ■■ enabling young people to make links with wider community via social activities. Social Network Leaders Program Yeronga State High School and MDA partnered to deliver the Social Network Leaders Program at Yeronga. This program builds a sustainable transition support to students moving from Milpera State High School to Yeronga State High School. The program is two-fold in that the Social Network Leaders provide support at Yeronga State High School for newly transitioned Milpera students by buddying up with them and organising welcoming activities at the school, as well as delivering information sessions to students at Milpera State High School around transitioning to high school, alleviating fears and meeting peers. The positive results from this program are significant. Not only do new students have individual and group support at their new school, leaders also learn valuable leadership skills. For example, five of the nine Year 12 Student Captains were Social Network Leaders in Year 11. Dance Group at Milpera State High School Through case work at Milpera, female students identified they were interested in learning social skills and that they would like to be involved in a dance group. MDA established a weekly dance group at Milpera for them.This was highly successful with the girls being referred on to mainstream dance opportunities and gaining the confidence to perform at the Milpera Exit Parade. Performing at the Exit Parade enabled social opportunities for the girls and increased their self esteem while they made friends and displayed their talents to the school. Furthermore, as the majority of girls were exiting that term, they were able to make strong connections with other exiting students in the group and provide incidental peer support during this exiting process and in their destination school.
  • 24. 18 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Youth Representative Committee MDA’s Youth Representative Committee (YRC) collaborated with the Queensland Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma’s (QPASTT) Youth Voice to deliver several youth initiatives in 2012 – 2013. They included the Youth Employment Forum, Mental Health Week activities and the Youth: Exposed art showcase. ClearThinking Cube Camp-out 2012 Collaborating with ClearThinking, (a not for profit organisation dedicated to helping people gain clarity and peace of mind), QPASTT’s Youth Voice committee and MDA’s Youth Representative Committee volunteered to run an art installation in the Queen St Mall where three volunteers stepped into a cube for 55 hours each, living their lives as the hustle and bustle of city life passed them by.The youth volunteers set up an art installation station and invited people to write messages of positive mental health strategies, loaded these to the ClearThinking and Youth Voice facebook pages, demonstrated how to make origami cubes and spoke about different stories of mental health for young people from diverse backgrounds to anyone and everyone walking past in the mall. The program provided an opportunity for ClearThinking to include a multicultural perspective in their campaign this year and the volunteers felt they were able to make a difference in the lives of others by raising awareness of the issues. All photos can be seen here: http://goo.gl/NYB2ji Youth: Exposed To mark the start of NationalYouthWeek in April 2013, theYRC and QPASTT’sYouthVoice committees producedYouth:Exposed, a showcase of art from young people across Brisbane, held atThe Edge at the State Library of Qld. The showcase displayed items from a number of workshops that were held in the lead up to the event, including claymation, song writing, photography, mask making and stencil workshops. Students from various schools across Brisbane, including Milpera, Woodridge, Macgregor,Yeronga and Sunnybank State High Schools, produced art work which was on display at the event, with highlights including a Welcome to Country, a performance by Rwandan dance group Imanzi and other entertainment.The event was well attended by government, council and youth representatives from across Brisbane. Planning for this project began in the previous financial year under the MDA Settlement Grants Program, and became a collaboration with QPASTT’sYouth Voice committee in 2012 to define and implement the event. Refugee Youth Support Pilot MDA’s Refugee Youth Support Pilot (RYSP) trialled a new approach to the settlement of 16 and 17 year old unaccompanied males on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). MDA launched the project in February 2012 for a funded period ending 30 June 2013. The young men involved in MDA’s pilot, a mix of Hazara Afghani, Iranian and Rohingya , were assessed by the department as suitable for living independently without 24-hour care. MDA took the role of their custodian while the Minster for Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) remained their guardian. MDA’s RYSP team members dedicated their time to ensuring the young men gained the necessary life skills to successfully live independently together, and then transition into their wider local community on reaching 18 years of age. As a matter of priority from the young men themselves, all were assisted in securing employment pathways and engaging in appropriate study or vocational training. Some examples of this were inspiring for the team to be involved in, including several young people who are on apprenticeship pathways and others who are now in their final years of mainstream secondary schooling.
  • 25. 19M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 The total intake of participants for the entire program was 32.The young men lived across a variety of share-house arrangements with each other over 7 sites in Brisbane’s south western suburbs. They were engaged in adapting their knowledge to new life skills necessary for living in Brisbane. This included learning about Go-Cards; usingTranslink; familiarizing themselves with local services; cooking for themselves on a budget; socializing responsibly; engaging with longer term established members of their community; and joining in local sporting or other recreational opportunities. Partnership was a crucial element in the approach of the RYSP team to engaging the young men in their local and wider community, including involvement with sporting clubs, government agencies, businesses, social services, churches, cultural and social communities and other local community members who have crossed the young men’s path and decided of their own volition to find ways to be supportive and provide encouragement for their new lives in Brisbane. This type of support is exactly what the young men needed to feel genuinely engaged and accepted in their new community while facing the stress of their family commitments back home and worry for their families safety and future life. We thank each and every person who has helped in some way to make a positive impact on the young men’s present and future. The young men faced difficult and confronting daily challenges in their settlement journey. At times, there was also the opportunity to be a normal young man experiencing growing up in a foreign country.They were learning new cultural norms that sometimes conflicted with their own traditions and practices. Regardless they managed to straddle the divide and move on. The program saw each and every young person settling into Australian culture with a supported experience, and strong foundation on which to build their own futures in their local communities. At the successful conclusion of the pilot, key findings were: 1. 83 per cent of participants suggested the program helped them to feel supported; 2. only 16.5 per cent of participants said that they do not feel ready for adult life in Australia (this figure includes participants who were not yet due for exit); and 3. the average overall rating of the program by participants was 8 out of 10.
  • 26. 5 Employmentandtraining ‘RefugeesandasylumseekersbringawiderangeofskillsandexperiencestoAustralia. They are highly motivated to find work and to contribute to the economy and the future of their new country.’
  • 27. 21M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Despite the Skilling Queenslanders forWork de-funding in 2012, MDA has been able to continue its commitment to economic participation.The EmploymentTeam provides practical and innovative support for jobseekers with work rights across a number of MDA programs. In 2012 – 2013 a total of 298 clients entered employment. The EmploymentTeam works with asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status are being assessed to provide a skills audit showing: ■■ professional background and work experience; ■■ employment-related skills, education and post-school qualifications; ■■ work areas of interest; and ■■ willingness to re-locate for work. Following this audit, the team delivers employment lifeskills training in: ■■ employment basics; ■■ Australian workplace culture; ■■ information gathering for resumes; ■■ job search process. Job club Following the employment life skills training, all clients can access Job Club to prepare resumes and look for and apply for work online, supported by MDA staff and volunteers. The Employment Team also runs a weekly Youth job club in partnership with the Queensland Program for the Assistance of Survivors ofTorture andTrauma (QPASTT) open to any young person of refugee background wanting assistance with looking for work. Employment case management support Employment Team members work one-on-one with clients who possess sufficient levels of job readiness including basic functional English and skills in demand in the current labour market. Case management support consists of a six-week‘active phase’and a six-week‘light-touch phase’. After the first phase, clients are equipped with: ■■ an up-to-date resume and cover letter; ■■ an understanding of basic job search processes and systems in Australia; ■■ ability to independently look for work using a variety of job search techniques. During the ‘light-touch phase’ clients are expected to look for work largely independently, with minimal support from the Employment Team. This framework has proven to be effective for actively engaging clients and enabling clients to play an active role in the job search process, as well as ensuring availability of support to the largest possible number of clients. Job preparation training Job preparation training is group-based and complementary to the one-on-one casework. It builds on the basic employment lifeskills training and provides group-based learning and sharing of experiences. It covers the following topics: ■■ what employers want; ■■ job search techniques; ■■ job interview preparation; ■■ basic workplace health and safety.
  • 28. 22 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3
  • 29. 23M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Employer engagement Pro-active engagement with employers and intermediaries such as recruitment agencies and labour hire companies, as well as chambers of commerce and other industry peak bodies is a core area of activity for MDA’s Employment Team. This approach has been most successful with industries that experience labour shortages or high staff turnover extending to regional and rural areas of Queensland. Long-term employment outcomes have been achieved with companies such as: ■■ McDonald’s, Emerald/Blackwater ■■ Kureen Farming, Lakeland (north of Cairns) ■■ Woolworths, Brisbane ■■ All Purpose Transport, Brisbane ■■ Teys Australia, Rockhampton ■■ JBS Swift, Rockhampton ■■ AWX Agribusiness, Rockhampton ■■ Labour Solutions Australia, Toowoomba ■■ Nolan Meats, Gympie ■■ Kilcoy Pastoral Company Employer engagement includes setting up defined pathways for jobseeker clients to access work. This may include: ■■ promoting specific employment opportunities (e.g. through information sessions); ■■ screening of suitable candidates to put forward to employers; ■■ assisting in the interview and selection process (e.g. by hosting interview days at MDA); ■■ assisting with logistics in the lead-up to the commencement of employment; ■■ post-placement support for clients and employers for up to three months. Community preparedness Many employment opportunities for MDA clients lie in regional and rural areas of Queensland.To ensure successful re-location for work to rural and regional areas, the EmploymentTeam works to prepare communities before the arrival of asylum seeker clients. This work involves: ■■ establishing relationships with local groups such as councils, police, service providers etc.; ■■ education on the background of the arriving asylum seekers, their reason for re-locating and the support available to them from MDA; ■■ identifying services and activities through neighbourhood centres, sports clubs, church groups and so on that the clients may want to link into. This work has helped create more welcoming environments in locations such as Dalby, Moranbah, Mackay, Emerald, Blackwater, Gatton, Gympie and Kilcoy. Fee-for-service The expertise developed by the EmploymentTeam is now available through its jobseeker workshops for clients of external agencies. Other services for migrant background jobseekers are being investigated. left  supporting a client in Job Club
  • 30. 24 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 PROGRAM OPENS UP NEW WORLD FOR NASRIN When Nasrin Ghasemi arrived in Australia as a refugee from Iran two years ago, finding work was difficult at first. That was until she successfully applied for a position at Mt St Michaels College, a girls’ secondary school in Brisbane’s inner west suburb of Ashgrove, under the Work & Welcome program. Since taking part in the program, a world of new opportunities has opened up for her. ‘Before I got a job through the Work & Welcome program, it was very hard to find employment. I had no work experience in Australia,’said Nasrin, who is a trained IT professional. ‘Having this work experience has helped me a lot. I worked for three months as a reception and administration worker and learned many new skills.’ The program also helped Nasrin demonstrate to her colleagues the full range of her talents. ‘I got to speak to other staff about my IT qualifications and employment experience in Iran, and was able to demonstrate to them some of my skills. They all know now what I can do. The school offered me a contract as an IT support worker once I finishedWork &Welcome. Now I’m doing work that I was trained to do … It’s great,’Nasrin said. Nasrin also got to share her story with the wider school community including the students. ‘I got to speak to students in class about my story … how I came to Australia and why. It was very good because they didn’t understand the reasons for people becoming refugees. They asked lots of questions. I think they understand better now what it means to be a refugee.’ above  Nasrin Ghasemi Mt St Michaels College has been involved with Work & Welcome since 2004. School Assistant Principal Mission, Stephen Campion, said the college became involved because of the assistance the program provides new immigrants as they settle and find their place in Australian society. ‘This is what the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church is all about and therefore what all Catholic schools and colleges should be concerned with,’Mr Campion said. ‘It was an easy decision to make. The participants have brought inumerable benefits to our students and staff – to have so many rich and varied stories and shared experiences with the wonderful women from many different backgrounds whom we have welcomed at the school.’ The school has hosted nine Work & Welcome participants overall, from diverse parts of the world, including India, Brazil, Rwanda, Burundi, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Central African Republic. In the meantime, Nasrin is delighted to be contributing to the community through her work. ‘I’m very happy that I live in Australia and in Brisbane and work in this lovely place,’she said.
  • 31. 25M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Work and Welcome Program Since 1993, the Work & Welcome program has been creating real employment opportunities for newly arrived refugees and migrants. Although it originated as a school-based initiative where staff voluntarily donate part of their pay to employ a newly arrived refugee or migrant, the program can bring the same fantastic benefits to any workplace andWork &Welcome is excited to now be partnering with the State Library of Queensland. The program was founded by Padua College teacher Mark Taylor, who remains coordinator in partnership with the MDA. It has developed over the years into a unique workplace giving program that enriches workplaces as much as it does the lives of program participants. Work & Welcome currently operates in Brisbane and Toowoomba, and has employed over 60 refugees and migrants from around the world over the last decade. Through taking part in the program, participants gain local work experience and are able to build the personal and professional networks so critical to finding meaningful employment in Australia. In return, they enrich the workplace through sharing their story and experiences with their new colleagues. The program is also immensely rewarding to those employees who contribute to it financially. Research shows that employees who donate through workplace giving programs want to know where their money goes and see the difference it makes. Through the Work & Welcome program, employees get to see firsthand the profound impact of their donations on a person’s life. The success of the program speaks for itself. More than eighty per cent of people participating in the program since MDA’s involvement have gained employment or are on track to completing further study and training.These outcomes have gone a long way to restoring the hope and dignity of program participants and setting them off to a successful work life in Australia.
  • 33. 27M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 TheSocialIncusionTeamprovidedlifeskillseducation,orientationandaccesstosocial inclusion activities to the majority of New Arrivals Support clients in 2012 – 2013. The teamworksalongsidelocalandculturalcommunitiesandservicepartnerstocontribute toawellfunctioning,multiculturalsociety.Theteambuildsopportunitiesforsocialand economic participation that can assist people to realise their settlement aspirations. Orientation to a new life The Settlement LifeskillsTeam members are the ultimate hosts for newly arrived clients for all our refugee and asylum seeker programs. For 3 days per week, 50 weeks per year, they ensure that MDA’s newest clients have the information and tools they need to successfully navigate their first few weeks in their new home. From gender relations to water safety, the health system to setting up house, information is delivered in first language via seminar, multi-media and role play methods. Guest presenters from Queensland Police Service and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service add authenticity and spark to the lifeskills sessions. The team’s experience is that people in large groups require full tummies to concentrate on learning. Aided by the generous support of SecondBite and the Moorooka Brumby’s Bakery, the Community Kitchen team have provided over 2000 morning teas and lunches to MDA clients over the past year. Hospitality—MDA style MDA is the central contact with Australia for many new settlers during the uncertain first weeks after arrival. Beyond the obligatory requirements of support MDA seeks to create a feeling of warmth and welcome through offering simple hospitality and activities to engage clients as they await the outcomes of their visa applications. Sausage Sizzles and Chai Time are regular occurrences along with sporting and recreational activities. From January to June 2013, 1356 clients participated in Social Inclusion Activities including sport, fishing, gardening, art and craft. above  Social Inclusion team members, Ra Rangiawha, Lida Dalira and Silvana Fanchi at the regular MDA client sausage sizzle.. left  Queensland Police Commissioner, Ian Stewart with MDA clients after a Life Skills Workshop 
  • 34. 28 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 CHAI TIME! On any given Thursday afternoon at around 2pm, the inviting aroma of freshly brewed chai tea sails gently through the Brisbane Multicultural Centre,Woolloongabba.Those who follow their noses are soon captive to the warmth and hospitality of MDA staff member and Chai Time coordinator, Joyce Taylor. Joyce not only brews the best cup of chai this side of the Indian Ocean, but has created the kind of easy going, revitalizing environment that provides clients some welcome breathing space from their day-to-day worries. The program is a striking reminder of how simple gestures can make a big difference to a person’s day. With warm chai in hand, clients are invited into the MDA community space where several games are on offer including table tennis and chess. Joyce says these games have a universal appeal that resonates with clients from diverse backgrounds. She also believes that the challenge of putting their minds and skills to the test provides a sense of accomplishment and improves well-being. ‘The thing is some of them are really talented at these games. They come every week and are just happy to show others,‘Look at me, I’m pretty good at this!’It’s just a game, but it means a lot to them,’ said Joyce. Unlike most of MDA’s settlement and social inclusion programs, Chai Time does not work with interpreters or cultural support workers. Joyce believes this encourages clients to form cross-cultural friendships, build their networks, and to practise their English with volunteers, staff and other clients. ‘ChaiTime brings them together, no matter their culture, language, or what their situation is.They just bond.There’s always that space of mixed cultures, so that’s the whole idea of the hour and a half,’she said. As with so much of MDA’s work, volunteers make a profound contribution to the success of the program. Joyce says that so often, clients are just eager to be acknowledged and to have the opportunity to share a small part of their story with a friendly stranger who’ll listen and share in return. ‘Sometimes, just asking simple questions like‘What’s your name, or where do you come from’makes all the difference,’she said. According to Joyce, Chai Tea itself is a notorious conversation starter, with variations of the delicious brew at the heart of many of MDA’s diverse client groups. Joyce says that the similarities and differences between her own brew and the recipes followed by clients in their own countries really gets them talking. And in case you’re wondering, the cornerstone to Joyce’s brew is ginger and lots of it! ‘That keeps‘em coming,’Joyce said. Welcome Hubs In 2012, the Social Inclusion team hosted community centre directors from key settlement suburbs to discuss how they could jointly address identified needs.The‘Welcome Hub’model evolved from this to support refugees and asylum seekers in their local communities. Welcome Hubs build on existing support structures and aim to be an entry point for new residents into their local community through activities such as ‘English Chat’, shared meals and cooking classes. The Hub concept builds on the successful‘West End Welcomes’model.
  • 35. 29M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Celebration of cultures and traditions The Social Inclusion team encourages and facilitates many cultural and social events throughout the year. Women’s Dance party 180 women from across Brisbane participated in theWomens’Dance Party hosted by MDA RESPECCT and organised in conjunction with the Queensland Program for the Assistance of Survivors of Torture and Trauma, Communify and Acacia Ridge Neighbourhood Centre in October 2012. International Women’s Day Over 150 women joined the Social InclusionTeam in the Brisbane Multicultural Centre community space for a‘pamper and dance’afternoon. Everyone was able to get hair, nails, makeup, massage or henna done and join the dancing. Nowrooz – New Year 257 Afghan, Kurdish and Persian staff and clients danced to each other’s music, shared food and celebrated in February 2013. This was organised by the Social Inclusion Team with a‘taskforce’of client representatives. Tamil and Sinhalese New Year The Social Inclusion Team worked with Tamil and Sinhalese representatives at MDA, community leaders, and clients to hold a lovely event with sensational food and much positive feedback. RESP-ECCT Program The Respite for Emerging Communities in CulturalTransition (RESP-ECCT) program provides respite for carers who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who look after someone with a mental health concern. The work is funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs as a partnership between the Queensland Program for the Assistance of Survivors ofTorture and Trauma, Communify and MDA. The RESP-ECCT program continues to expand with support provided to 129 clients/carers participating in activities of the program. Working with MDA’s most vulnerable clients can be challenging but it is also a privilege. Tailored activities such as men and women’s groups, yoga and psycho-education sessions to build personal resilience to manage day to day life are just a few activities that provide a safe space for clients to vent their thoughts and feelings and receive support by staff and fellow participants. Clients who have engaged in the RESP-ECCT program have made huge progress, shifting from isolation to socialisation and independent to inter-dependency with some clients themselves becoming agents of change for fellow community members. This year the Social Inclusion team has developed an inter-faith memorial program in response to the needs of clients to publicly acknowledge bereavement and to share their grief in a supportive environment.This has been of special value to those separated from extended family and community support systems and who have lost loved ones through continued conflict in their country of origin or country of temporary refuge (e.g. in a refugee camp).The memorial combines prayers, song and lament to loved ones wherever they may be spiritually or physically. It has been a privilege to share in this journey of loss and grief with over 100 asylum seeker and refugee community members. This year has seen increased client numbers, additional tailored activities, strong links to community groups, joint work with other community organizations and increased external stakeholders willing to provide support.
  • 36. 30 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 BICULTURAL SUPPORT SERVICES Bicultural Support Services MDA employs a pool of Cultural Support Workers who have a critical role in enabling MDA to deliver settlement support in first culture and language. These workers support childcare services and other government and non-government organisations to provide culturally appropriate, quality services across Queensland to members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities. A key element of the MDA model is to use workers who come from our clients’backgrounds and speak their languages. A recent internal audit of MDA service delivery time statistics indicated that Cultural SupportWorkers are responsible for approximately 28% of face-to-face contact with MDA clients. MDA currently has over 250 registered Cultural SupportWorkers throughout Queensland, from 59 different countries with over 100 different languages.Through Humanitarian Settlement Services alone, over 11 000 hours of cultural support were provided to clients. Early childhood program This program aims to increase the capacity of early childhood services to meet the needs of children and families from diverse backgrounds.Through mentoring, training, resource development and support, the Early ChildhoodTeam assists centres to implement approaches that will successfully include children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. From July 2012 to June 2013 MDA received over 100 requests from child care services across Queensland for cultural and linguistic support with 1920 children supported acrossQueenslandthrough1024hoursofsupport.Thethreemostrequestedlanguages were Mandarin, Vietnamese and Hindi. Cultural consultancy program Cultural SupportWorkers provide services to organisations that work with diverse client groups in overcoming a variety of different language and cultural barriers, such as educating staff to understand specific cultural needs of clients and providing language support for effective communication. During 2012 – 2013, 682 Cultural Consultancy requests from multiple organisations were met including assisting with housing support, language support for universities, support for complex needs clients and delivering cultural competency workshops.
  • 37. 31M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MDA’s community development work with new and emerging communities in 2012 – 2013 was funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship through the Settlement Grants Program. This work involved a number of strategies. The first of these was identifying and strengthening formal and informal leadership within communities such as providing support to community leaders to convene their forums and to action outcomes. Forums were held on issues identified in community leader meetings including employment, housing and family reunion. The second strategy was support for communities to develop their own structures and responses to priority issues. An example of this work was supporting leadership within the Queensland Rohingya Community Inc to set up a youth development project in response to their growing concerns of disengagement and isolation among young people in the community. This project proposal has recently been awarded funding from the Brisbane City Council. The third strategy was to facilitate a connection between new arrivals and existing community members. Moorooka Small Business The Community DevelopmentTeam continues to work with the Moorooka community to address issues of social harmony and cohesion. This year the focus has been on local businesses as the ‘face’ of refugee communities residing in the Moorooka/Acacia Ridge corridor. This work has led to some great collaboration with Brisbane City Council, businesses and the local Moorooka community. MDA has also partnered with Enactus, a volunteer based group of entrepreneurs who have developed a peer mentoring program for new refugee-led businesses. below  Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs, Glen Elmes MP during a visit to Moorooka small businesses.
  • 38. 32 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Meet Your Neighbours This 12 month project culminated in March 2013 with activities to celebrate Harmony Day across the three project sites of Banyo, Carole Park/Ellen Grove and Acacia Ridge. Successful events were organised by community members in collaboration with local schools, Brisbane City Council, community centres and commercial businesses. The key impact of this project is the community relationships and structures that now exist from which other initiatives can grow. The Meet Your New Neighbours project provided an opportunity for MDA to develop a place- based community building focus to its work that has now extended beyond the suburbs of Acacia Ridge, Banyo and Carole Park.The project has also attracted the interest of other service providers and community groups and extensions of this work are planned for other areas such as Zillmere, Nundah and Inala. Grants Access Support The Grants Access Program, funded through the Queensland Government’s Community Action for a Multicultural Society (CAMS) program, provides culturally and linguistically diverse community groups with information and support to access grants for their community projects and to develop an understanding of available resources and build skills for good stewardship of these resources. The Grants Access program continues to fulfil its function of helping new and emerging community groups to access a range of funding available through philanthropic, community and government sources to further their integration and development. The Grants worker helps community members to understand the funding options that are available, develop ideas and proposals and to apply for a wide range of funding. Successful applications are followed up with assistance to ensure that applicants understand the value of resources that the funding gains and the responsible stewardship of those resources. Training is also provided for community groups to develop the skills to manage and acquit their projects. This year the program has distributed information to hundreds of enquirers; provided face to face training to 108 members of new and emerging communities and workshops and information sessions to 178 clients, including some in Wide Bay and Rockhampton. The known number of successful applications for 2012 – 2013 is 77, with over $500,000 gained for grass roots community projects. “for Imanzi (Rwandan dance and drumming troupe)… travelling to performances was very difficult before. Without a commuter bus, it was very hard for members to meet up for rehearsals, concerts or to go on tour. Imanzi lends the bus to any community that needs it… allowing the community to come together much more easily. ThesupportwereceivethroughMDAtoapplyforgrantshasmadeaverybigdifference to our community. We are very grateful to MDA for their support,” MsEsperanceNyirabarahinyuza,PresidentoftheRwandanAssociationofQueensland
  • 39. 33M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 VOLUNTEERS New ways to be involved Volunteering with MDA provides an opportunity for members of the community to give, learn and connect with its clients. The key focus this year has been to introduce ways volunteers can support clients and teams across MDA. This year the volunteer pool has really expanded.There are now approximately 300 people who are registered as MDA volunteers.The volunteer team is becoming an increasingly multicultural group as well, with every continent of the world represented. We also have several people volunteering who are repaying the support they received when they came as refugees many years ago. Over the past year the volunteer program has diversified while continuing to maintain and improve the very meaningful Family Match program. Volunteers have provided support in: Job Club, Chai Time, CitizenshipTest Support, Driving Learner’s Handbook tutoring, orientation activities, assisting with advocacy projects, driving, assisting with cooking BBQs for clients, playing sports with clients, helping to pack food packs and welcome packs. MDA’S 2013 Lantern Parade Walk for Refugees and World Refugee Day Community Festival were supported by our MDA volunteers as well as Suncorp employees who used their CorporateVolunteer Day to support the events.Volunteers have also assisted with a host of other events and activities including the Big Sing, Harmony Day, International Women’s Day and Carole Park Multicultural Festival. Volunteers have also supported the development of Welcome Hubs. Training for volunteers From July 2012 – June 2013, 188 people were trained to become MDA volunteers. Ongoing learning was also provided through professional development sessions and MDA’s‘Working with Refugees’ training. A number of volunteers have also attended free training offered byTAFE - English Language and Literacy Services (TELLS) and Volunteer Tutor Courses. Family Match makes connections 214volunteerswerematchedwithMDAfamilies/clientsintheFamilyMatchprogram. As always, the Family Match program is one of the most significant ways that volunteers can experience a meaningful connection with a person from another culture. This program also provides clients with the opportunity to make a friend, receive emotional and English language support, increase their confidence, independence and hope. ‘My work as a volunteer is very rewarding and I am very happy with the way MDA supports volunteers by giving us the chance to help people who needs support from the community in their successful settlement process. I am loving it!’ MDA volunteer
  • 40. 34 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 VOLUNTEER MATCH LEADS TO FRIENDSHIP Ending relationships of any kind is most often a difficult part of life, but not for MDA volunteer Alexander Smythe and now former client Hamed Parsiani.The two decided to call quits on their client-volunteer relationship as a means to opening up a new relationship – friendship. As Alexander says, they are now simply‘mates’. Alexander says he reached a point where he realized simply that‘Hamed doesn’t need me anymore.’ Yet the pair who are similar in age and share a mutual interest in outdoor activities have both come to enjoy each other’s company and have remained in touch since the ending of their volunteer-client agreement. ‘Now we’re free to just talk, have a beer and whinge about work. That’s what Aussies do!’said Smythe. Smythe recalls the first time he learnt about Hamed from an MDA profile describing him as a‘young male who likes physical exercise and wants to learn English’. Hamed interrupts,‘Young? Nah, I’m getting old!’ Listening to them trading quips and laughing, it is hard to believe how far Hamed has come since arriving in Australia with very limited English around a year ago. Hamed says that only a short six months ago, Alex and himself would sit around and talk about one simple subject non-stop for an hour or two, referring constantly to his trusty Farsi-English dictionary along the way. Hamed’s English has progressed quickly with support from Alex, but due largely to his own determination to improve. Alexander says that he was quickly impressed by Hamed’s attitude, including his determination to learn English and gain meaningful employment. ‘Hamed came here for a life in Australia and he’s living a life in Australia. He’s here to embrace it,’he said. As Hamed’s English continued to improve, the two set themselves the more challenging task of finding employment. Hamed had worked in his native Iran repairing damage to car bumper bars and panels and wished to resume similar work in Australia. The first challenge was communicating this work to Alexander so the two could put together an effective resume. Hamed asked family members at home to send photos from his previous workplace in Iran showing him in action. The two then worked together for three weeks, asking each other more and more questions until they were happy with the final product. As a chef, Alexander is himself actively involved in the recruitment of new colleagues and understands the importance of a good resume to making that vital first impression. ‘A lot of the time it’s obvious job applicants are just using a template, maybe from their job network. With Hamed, I wanted to make sure that we really put the time and effort in to make his resume a standout,’he said. With a shiny new resume in hand, Hamed started knocking on the doors of automotive smash repair companies in his local area and further afield. But the doors finally opened through a stroke of good fortune. Hamed had been repairing the bumper of one of his friends at home one day and his work did not go unnoticed by a friendly neighbour. The neighbour made a phone call and Hamed was soon invited for a trial shift. The boss had given him a day’s worth of tasks before leaving the office for a short while. When the boss returned a couple of hours later, Hamed had completed his entire day’s work to immaculate standards and was hired on the spot. Hamed says that although his English had improved a lot before getting the job, his early days in the workshop were an altogether new crash course in Aussie English. ‘The bosses were all speaking really, really fast…At first I couldn’t understand a word they were saying,’ said Hamed.
  • 41. 35M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 But through perseverance, his comprehension improved day by day and he says that he can now understand 99% of what his bosses say to him. Hamed has also learnt how speaking Aussie slang makes people quicker to warm up. ‘When I’m speaking Aussie it makes people happy. Howzitgoin mate?’ Hamed continues to study English two nights a week while working fulltime. ‘I’m very proud to be paying tax. I’m satisfied with my life now. Things are getting better,’he said. JUAN’S SMILE WILL STAY IN OUR HEARTS In December last year, we heard of the sad passing of an MDA volunteer who will be forever missed by all who knew him. Juan Galaz was an extraordinary man. Originally from Chile, Juan made the decision to come to Australia for safety decades ago, and brought up his family in the Brisbane suburb of Kenmore. He enjoyed a long working life before coming to join MDA as a volunteer in 2009 where he served clients and staff with the utmost passion and dedication. Juan was invaluable in improving the lives of many clients and staff, transporting people to important health appointments or between new stages of their settlement. Juan quickly left a strong impression on everyone who worked alongside him as a generous, genuine, compassionate and understanding man who had a twinkle in his eye and a zest for life. He was passionate about his children and all they achieved; he loved his beautiful wife and enjoyed life to the full. A great conversationalist, Juan could often be found in the MDA kitchen, early for his pick up of a client with his newspaper and in conversation about the political state of the country while sharing his empathy. As an avid soccer player, Juan jumped at the opportunity to be on the field during MDA Stormboys matches in a local friendly competition at the El Salvadorian club in Yeronga, where on Friday nights, to the sounds of South American pop opera drifting across the grassy fields, he showed the younger members a level of finesse, skill and agility that truly belied his age. MDA staff and supporters, shocked and saddened by the news of Juan’s death, wanted to share an occasion marking Juan’s passing with his family and held a memorial during January in the Brisbane Multicultural Centre’s Community Space. A plaque has been placed in the space inscribed: ‘In Memory of Juan Galaz, a gracious, passionate and kind man who served as a volunteer, selflessly supporting the staff and clients of the Multicultural Development Association from 2009 to 2012.’ ‘Tu sonrisa permanecerá en nuestros corazones.’ ‘Your smile will stay in our hearts.’(Spanish proverb) And it will.
  • 42. 7 BrisbaneMulticulturalCentre TheBrisbaneMulticulturalCentre(BMC)continuestohostamultitudeofactivitiesfor the multicultural community of Brisbane throughout the year. MDA and co-tenant, the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) use the facilities for their own community activities as well as offering them to many community groups free or at low cost.
  • 43. 37M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Expert panel member visits BMC Paris Aristotle AM, member of the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, visited the Brisbane Multicultural Centre during the year to brief community leaders, stakeholders and MDA staff about the 22 key recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. As well as being a member of the Expert Panel, Paris is the Director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc. (VFST) and Executive Member of the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT). Paris brought over 25 years experience in the field of supporting refugees and asylum seekers to his presentation and answered many questions after the briefing. above  Paris Aristotle with MDA staff member Allahyar Abbassi and family Communities come together at BMC Many community groups were again able to use the facilities of the Brisbane Multicultural Centre to celebrate national holidays and cultural events and also for formal community meetings and practical information sessions. A row of lockers on the first floor of the BMC provides office storage and an‘office address’for the leaders of the many cultural groups who use the Brisbane Multicultural Centre to come together. above  MDA staff celebrating with community members
  • 44. 38 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 DIVERSITY CHOIR One of the many community groups that make the Brisbane Multicultural Centre their home is MDA’s Diversity Choir. For the love of singing We’ve all heard those tired clichés of librarians peering sternly over the top of their bifocals, and shushing at the whispers of children who dare to break the silence. But things don’t quite play out this way in Brisbane town, and especially not during the early months of the year when the MDA Diversity Choir dazzled patrons across the Brisbane City Council library network with a nine-stop tour of their uplifting vocal harmonies. Choir Director, Mr Prince Williams, says the tour came about when the choir performed at an Ethnic Communities Council of Qld event late last year. A library staff member there loved what she experienced, and set the wheels in motion for the choir to perform as part of the library network’s activity program. ‘It was really successful and we were able to recruit more members as people approached us to learn about the choir. Some of the members we have now are from those‘sings’,’said Prince. MDA Choir Liaison, Joyce Taylor, says it was great to bring the group’s talent and passion to an entirely different audience. ‘What was really interesting is we had people from different cultural backgrounds who came and watched us.We were able to bring diversity to a lot of different people through music,’said Joyce. This opportunity was one of several crowning highlights for the choir throughout the year. In addition to a busy performance schedule, the group was also successful in its application for a grant through the Gambling Community Benefit Fund. The grant has enabled the choir to add further magic to its music through the purchase of keyboards and other percussive instruments.
  • 45. 39M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 For Prince, having the opportunity to recognize publicly the contributions of choir members through certificates of appreciation was also a defining part of the year. This happened during the choir’s Big Sing event in October. ‘The choir is just a voluntary thing. But the choir members being so committed makes it a very big thing,’said Prince. Prince’s role, too, is entirely voluntary and, according to the man himself, he wouldn’t have it any other way. ‘I just really love music,’said Prince. ‘I spend most of my down time on music. Apart from work, going to university, and a couple of hours to work on assignments, the rest of my time I spend on music…listen to songs, do a couple of recordings, work with the choir.That’s what I’ve done all my life. My whole family is very musical,’ he said. JoyceTaylor says the choir also offers a great way for new arrivals to connect with the community, build confidence, and practice their English while having a lot of fun along the way. ‘When our new clients come in, they get to network with people from different cultural backgrounds, so it helps them with language and network building,’said Joyce. The MDA Diversity Choir is famous for welcoming new members with open arms and, as always, is on the hunt for new recruits. There is some kind of collective folklore that says with regards to singing, ‘you either have it or you don’t’. Prince Williams couldn’t disagree more. ‘I like to meet people who think that they can’t sing, have no musical background, and don’t know a lot about singing,’said Prince. ‘But that’s where I say, ‘nothing is impossible, it is possible, you can sing!’ Because, we can work along with people who have no idea about music, but just working with people, they can learn to sing a particular tune. Whoever wants to sing can sing. We will support and encourage you in every way,’he said. To find out more about the choir or to get involved, email Joyce at joycet@mdabne.org.au
  • 46. 40 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 NORTHSIDE OFFICE REACHES OUT TO COMMUNITY MDA had cause for celebration with the official opening of its new northside office space in Nundah on the 15th March 2013. Located close to the Nundah Railway Station and to a full suite of other services and community infrastructure, the move places MDA in a stronger position to provide superior services to clients residing in the northern suburbs. A stroll through the heart of Nundah is all that’s needed to reveal a suburb in rapid transition including gentrification as new road links have brought the suburb closer to the‘inner city’. Nundah and surrounding suburbs have also become increasingly culturally diverse partly through the establishment of former refugee communities. According to latest census data, 21.63% of people living in the Lilley Electorate were born overseas and 7.73% speak a language other than English at home. This is close to the state and national averages, making the electorate a multicultural representative of the wider community. MDA Employment and Training team leader, Ben Christie, understands the full meaning of this move better than most, having been stationed at MDA’s earlier Windsor northside office for the past two years. ‘I think it’s great because we’re right in the thick of things now. Many of our clients live in Nundah or neighbouring suburbs like Zillmere, Chermside and Banyo. We’re seeing clients getting more appropriate service by having a presence here,’said Ben. For case workers like Julie-AnneWood, the close proximity to clients and other services is contributing greatly to the efficiency of client work. ‘I’m finding that it’s brilliant because we’re part of the community and are so close to other resources. Organizations like the Nundah Community Centre are just up the road. They have a community legal service which is great for our clients. Many of our clients can walk to our office and it’s easy for me to visit clients close by, often walking there,’said Julie-Anne. Julie-Anne has had the pleasure of working with some of our newest communities in recent months including the emerging Bhutanese community based largely in Brisbane’s northern suburbs. ‘Family members already here are really rallying behind the new arrivals and even helping out with their cultural orientation which is really nice,’she said. right  Members of the northside community and MDA staff gather together for the official opening of the new MDA office in Nundah
  • 47. 41M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3
  • 49. 43M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 ROCKHAMPTON OFFICE Settlement Central Queensland style After a frenetic first year setting up and focusing mainly on casework and individual clients, the MDA Rockhampton team has moved into a new phase of its evolution, forging strong connections with the broader Rocky community. Community linkages are a critical part of good settlement says Rockhampton team leader and case manager, Liam Mayo. ‘The transition for us this last year has been through a lot of our community engagement work. The community networks we’ve created here have feathered out well,’said Mayo. According to Liam, such partnerships are also helping to meet the needs of bridging visa clients in a big way. ‘We’ve got a partnership with the Catholic Church and church members now donate a lot of stuff forWelcome Packs like razors, shaving cream, dishwashing liquid, sponges and so on. It’s become a big thing now, they tell their friends in the community and they get in touch and want to help out in the best ways that they can. It’s fantastic,’he said. Walk Together celebrations in Rockhampton this year showcased just how far MDA’s place in the community has come, with church groups, community organizations and schools squarely behind the promotion of the event through their respective networks. ‘Seeing organizations like CQ Centacare and Anglicare get behind our Walk Together as sponsors is really indicative of the growing community awareness and support,’Mayo said. Things have also been moving forward on the employment scene. Employment opportunities on offer at the local meatworks were previously the main driver for clients choosing to re-locate to Rockhampton.There is no mistaking that this is a tough line of work and, without other settlement support firmly in place, turnover was high. Since MDA has set up a strong presence in town, staff retention has increased dramatically. ‘But because guys are coming here and the MDA office can support them with their housing and medical stuff, they’re staying on longer. They’re staying years now, it’s really good,’Liam said. This has created the need for MDA to widen its engagement with local employers in different industry areas, generating some exciting new employment opportunities. Fields of employment for current and former clients now include various industrial trades, hospitality, transport, horticulture and hospitality. LiambelievesthatRockhamptonwillcontinuetoattractnewarrivalsforitsemploymentopportunities and that the success of employment pipelines owes a lot to the work ethic and skills of MDA clients. ‘If there is a vacancy that comes up, employers will often ring us straight away, and let us know there’s a vacancy and they want to recruit again. They’ll liaise with us to make that happen. We have some really solid partnerships now,’he said. One of these community organisations is Sanctuary Central Queensland which was set up specifically to welcome refugees to Central Queensland. This year, they joined with many other community groups and individuals to support the Walk Together:
  • 50. 44 M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Rocky youth welcome refugees People who took part in Rockhampton’s WalkTogether parade in June did so with full bellies thanks to a crew of enthusiastic young students from the Rockhampton Grammar School. The ten young volunteers hosted a free sausage sizzle, feeding around 200 people before the parade set off from the Rockhampton PCYC across the Fitzroy River for a multicultural community concert at the River Stage. The students are all participants in the school’s ‘Sanctuary’ group which undertakes a variety of activities to support refugees and asylum seekers settle in the community. Led by school chaplain, Mr Cameron Venables, the group is an outgrowth of Sanctuary Central Queensland whichVenables first set up in 2005 as a way to welcome refugees into the Rockhampton community. Mr Venables believes that negative stereotyping such as the‘Me Generation’tends to downplay the capability of young people to make a real difference in the community. ‘Sometimes I think we underestimate young people and the capacity of young people to care about stuff,’said Mr Venables. ‘I think that some young people feel that the situation is so bad in lots of different areas, whether it’s the environment or refugees or whatever, that there’s nothing they can do about it… ‘But this sort of program helps young people to recognize, ‘hey, I can make a difference.’ And so there’s a lovely sense of accomplishment for young people when they realize they’re making a difference in the community, and that positively affects their ambitions,’Mr Venables said. Launch of Settlement Works In October 2012,the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP launched Settlement Works, an MDA publication that celebrates the successful settlement of refugees in the Rockhampton region. The report highlights that refugees, through their strong desire for employment, are willing to re-locate to regional centres where critical labour shortages exist and that this, and their motivation to sustain their employment, makes an important economic contribution to our State.
  • 51. 45M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 TOOWOOMBA OFFICE ToowoombaRegionalCouncilbecamethethirdlocalgovernmentareainQueensland to become a ‘Refugee Welcome Zone’ on June 22, 2013. Community Engagement In 2013,Toowoomba was nominated by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship as a trial site to settle refugee women at risk. This group is the largest unlinked client cohort by visa class, and they represent 12% of the department’s total Humanitarian Settlement Services off-shore intake. Many of these women have no known family or close associates in their new region. MDA Toowoomba has been collaborating with local communities to set the foundation for the settlement of women at risk. The Local Area Coordination (LAC) network contributions and the participation of key stakeholder service providers has responded to the unique needs and aspirations of refugee families by identifying and implementing strategies and partnerships that will assist the long-term settlement outcome for new groups. To ensure MDA listens to local communities’needs and respond to expectations, it has established advisory groups consisting of key stakeholders in both Toowoomba and Rockhampton. These groups provide invaluable insight and guidance, as well as feedback. Toowoomba offers a unique welcome The ‘Terrible Twos’ is a time in childhood development famous for testing the mettle of all but the most patient of parents. But the abundant parklands and wide open spaces in Toowoomba offers the perfect antidote, according to MDA operations worker and father of two, Fikre Desta. ‘The good thing about living in Toowoomba is you can just take your kids and release them in the biggest park around.They run off all their energy really quickly,’Fikre smiled. After re-locating from Brisbane earlier this year, Fikre says that Toowoomba is the perfect place for young families. ‘Living in a regional town is a really unique experience. Everything is just around the corner, and people are really easy to approach,’he said. Fikre believes these same qualities provide fantastic benefits to new arrivals during the early stages of their settlement. ‘I’ve spoken recently to many newly arrived clients about life in Toowoomba. Sometimes they think it will be boring here, and say that they want to move to Sydney or Melbourne. I encourage them to at least give the place a chance before making up their minds. Usually they end up really liking it,’he said. Just as Toowoomba has made him feel welcome, Fikre likes to extend the same hospitality to clients in his day-to-day work.‘Everyone who comes through the door I greet with a big smile so they know they are in a welcoming atmosphere. Personally, I like to be delighted and happy in my work. Whatever language they speak, a smile always goes a long way,’said Fikre. Fikre migrated from Ethiopia to Australia in 2009 to complete his studies in accounting at Bond University. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to bring greater transparency and accountability to projects in developing countries. In the meantime, he is proud to call Toowoomba home and hopes that his own ‘new arrival’, two month-old son Immanuel, will have every opportunity to appreciate what the town has to offer.
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  • 53. 47M U LT I C U LT U R A L D E V E L O P M E N T A S S O C I AT I O N | A N N U A L R E P O R T | 2 0 1 2 – 2 0 1 3 Hard work leads to independence In July 2012, a single Rwandan mother arrived with her four children at Brisbane International Airport where they were received by a cultural support worker from MDA who spoke the same language. ‘I can still remember that day. We arrived in Brisbane at midnight and there were people at the airport waiting for us. It was not hard for us because the people who received us could speak with us and understand us. Other people were also welcoming us. I still appreciate that,’said Janviere Dusabinema Nzabamwit. Only nine months later, Janviere was the successful applicant for a customer service role at Masters Home Improvers in Toowoomba where she continues to work 24 hours a week. ‘I am working in customer service, so have learnt a lot about how to work with customers. How best to serve them, and also using the checkout machines,’said Janviere. ‘We have almost 37 000 products in stock. It’s not easy! But slowly, slowly. Everyday I’m learning something new,’she said. Janviere’s determination to gain employment came from a place of never again wanting to depend on others for the survival of herself and her children. ‘When I came to Toowoomba, I just wanted to get work. I always worked with my job network, and I was looking at everything. I got a lot of support from MDA, writing a resume and learning other things. I didn’t want to depend on Centrelink. My family and I have to depend on ourselves,’ Janviere said. ‘Masters called me in for an interview. I did the interview and got the job. I was so happy,’she said. Janviere’s children, three girls aged 4,5 and 16, and son, aged 17, are also adapting to life in Australia remarkably quickly. Her son, Patrick, has gained an apprenticeship as a café barista while her eldest daughter has joined the army cadets. All of her children are attending school or preschool. These successes come as the realization of important dreams for Janviere and her children. ‘I just wanted them to have a good future, going to school, finishing university and having good jobs here in Australia. I am always praying that things will go this way.They can have that here,’she said. As a refugee in Kenya, Janviere’s focus on supporting her children was matched closely by her drive to support the people around her, especially women and children, who had survived the traumas of the Rwandan genocide and the ongoing difficulties of life in a refugee camp. ‘When I was in the camp, I did health work, teaching people about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and family planning. I also worked with women at risk, those doing prostitution because they don’t have a choice, and vulnerable children,’said Janviere. In Australia, Janviere has taken the same attitude of reaching out towards others, connecting strongly to the new community she now calls home. Her family has close friends through the family’s involvement in a local church, African dance group and other groups in the community. Janviere also takes every opportunity to connect with other single parents in the Toowoomba community, believing there is strength to be gained in sharing this experience with others. ‘Before I didn’t understand much about single parents, but now I understand what they all go through. It’s good to know people in the community who are in the same situation…we share our experiences,’she said. Reflecting on her first year in Australia, Janviere is happy how far she and her children have come. ‘I appreciate everything. In one year, I can see I’ve made some big steps. In four years things will be even better. Now we have a normal life.’ left  Community members, MDA staff and clients at Walk Together 2013 where Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio declared Toowoomba a Refugee Welcome Zone