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Shaping a better future for all
2014-2015
#createwelcome
This Annual Report documents MDA’s activities,
initiatives and achievements during 2014-15,
and shows how we met our objectives for the year.
Copies of the report can be found at www.mdaltd.org.au
or by contacting MDA Communications at
communications@mdaltd.org.au or phone 07 3337 5400.
You are free to copy and communicate this work, so long as you
attribute MDA as the author and owner of the content.
MDA would like to give special thanks to Dean Holland (Take
Better Photos), Muhammad Raza (Images by Raza), Dominic
James Gutierrez (D’magry), Mick Porter, and various MDA staff
whose images illustrate and illuminate our year in review.
Welcome!
Acknowledgements				06
Welcome by our Chair and CEO		 08
Strengthening our diversity			 12
Changing the conversation			 22
Celebrating community				32
Enriching our future				44
Building connections				58
Our people						72
Financials and operations 			 80
MDA acknowledge Aboriginals and Torres Strait
Islanders as the first peoples of Australia, and
recognises the immense cultural and linguistic
diversity that has existed in these lands for
tens-of-thousands of years.
Upwards of 250 clans or ‘nations’ were spread across
the land at the time of the First Fleet’s arrival, each
with its own language and traditions finely attuned
to the challenges of survival – the culmination
of knowledge gained, refined and shared across
generations.
MDA deeply respects and values Australia’s First Nations
peoples’ enormous resilience, courage, determination and
often unrecognised contribution to this country’s social
and economic development.
Acknowledgement of
Traditional Owners
06 07
Throughout yet another challenging year of twists and
turns, it remains for me an immense pleasure to chair
a vibrant and dynamic for-purpose organisation where
the purpose is abundantly clear.
MDA exists simply to shape a better future for all
Queenslanders. We remain as committed as ever to
shaping a welcoming, inclusive, globally connected and
economically strong Queensland community that reaps
the benefits of its existing cultural diversity, along with
the 36,000 people who arrive from overseas to make
Queensland home each year, including skilled migrants,
international students and refugees.
In a networked, global economy where connectedness and
prosperity go hand in hand, the very definition of successful
multiculturalism as a goal is in need of some urgent rethinking.
We can no longer afford to think of this simply in terms of
the barriers to full participation and the supports needed
to overcome these. With the dawn of the ‘Asian Century’
now well and truly upon us, our existing cultural diversity,
along with the addition of new arrivals each year, is indeed
the most precious of gifts.
A Queensland that celebrates and embraces cultural
diversity is a Queensland ready to seize the opportunities
of new global connections and benefit from new prosperity.
MDA is proudly leading the way in promoting this new
vision, which in many respects can be distilled to the way
we think and communicate. Our very future as a cohesive
and prosperous Queensland depends largely on the kinds
of questions we ask ourselves and each other.
One of the most significant lessons we took away from our
time with Neighborhood Centers Inc. in Texas last year
is the power of Appreciative Inquiry as a means to sharpen
and share our own vision. Unhindered by the common
obsessions with ‘problems’, ‘barriers’ and ‘deficits’,
we are now focussed on ‘opportunities’, ‘strengths’ and
‘contributions’, enabling us to effectively share the real
impact on our community of the people we work with.
It has been very rewarding this year to see this change
in mindset and focus in effect.
In many respects, this is a timely development. 2015 has
been a year of heightened tension, with global events sadly
fanning the flames of division, mistrust and hostility here
in Queensland and around Australia. At the same time,
our public interface with the Queensland community
attracted in excess of 30,000 people to our Welcome
events, drawn by their shared belief that Queensland’s
cultural diversity and new arrivals are indeed a cause
for celebration.
A stronger capacity to communicate the impact of our
work is also vital in a context of increasingly constrained
public resources and mounting public expectations that
not-for-profit organisations deliver more for less.
The MDA Board has been pleased this year to support
new strategic initiatives that, in time, will generate
diverse opportunities for self-funding, thus alleviating
pressure on the public purse. Through leveraging our
existing cross-cultural expertise, MDA is in a unique
position to strengthen Queensland’s multiculturalism
through a range of consulting services that in turn
will ensure MDA’s sustainability across time.
from our chair
The success of our three accredited training units that
focus on working effectively with refugees is just the
beginning of a host of new developments to come.
On a personal note, I would like to extend my sincere
thanks to the entire MDA Board for their enthusiasm
and their tireless work throughout this year.
It was with sadness that we bid farewell to Board
member Fraser Power as he embarks on a new chapter
of life adventures. As one of MDA’s founding members
and former Chair of the Board, Fraser’s contributions
to the very fabric of our great organisation cannot be
understated. Our thanks also to Cathy Pappalardo, who
also left the Board this year after several years’ service.
On the other hand, I was delighted to welcome two
new additions to the Board, namely Anh Bui and Fahim
Khondaker. Anh and Fahim both bring with them excellent
and relevant skill-sets, strong strategic thinking capabilities
and connections that will no doubt enrich MDA’s future
for years to come.
As always, I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation
to our CEO, Kerrin Benson, to the entire Executive Team,
and to all MDA staff and volunteers on yet another year
of dedication and achievement in the often challenging
context we find ourselves working in.
Finally, it remains a source of great pride and joy for me
to be part of an organisation committed to protecting
some of the most vulnerable people in our global
community. As I sit down to reflect on the year,
I am delighted that 2015-16 will see us welcome many
more vulnerable people from Syria and Iraq with the
announcement of an increase to the humanitarian
program. I congratulate the Government and the
Opposition on their bipartisan leadership on this issue.
In conclusion, I’d like to extend my sincerest respect
and appreciation to all MDA’s clients. Your resilience,
strength and determination to persevere is a constant
source of inspiration.
Sally Isles
08 10
Ours is indeed a world where ‘no place is an island’.
The space we are privileged to work in issues constant
reminders of the connection between the global and the
local, mediated through the complex and shifting interface
of government policy, community sentiment and regional
circumstances.
It’s through this frame that we celebrate the culmination
of some big achievements in the past financial year,
as we continue to scan new horizons for the
opportunities of tomorrow.
Around three years ago now, MDA embarked on its
largest scale-up to date, when the Australian Government
moved from processing asylum seekers’ claims for
protection in detention centres to a new arrangement
allowing people to live in the community on bridging visas
while their claims are processed.
Our earlier experiences had clearly highlighted the
devastating mental health impacts for people who had
endured lengthy periods in immigration detention.
We’ve been immensely proud, therefore, to support
a model based on community determination that has
afforded new hope and dignity to some of the world’s
most vulnerable people. Although faced with continuing
uncertainty, the new arrangement has allowed asylum
seekers to live within the Queensland community and
fulfil the fundamental human desire to be a productive
part of the society they live in.
As we expected, many of our clients seized this
opportunity with both hands, volunteering with
a host of Queensland charities and not-for-profits
where they have left an indelible mark.
The tides have turned once more, with the Australian
Government recommencing the assessment of asylum
seekers’ protection claims, in turn opening opportunities
for longer-term settlement stability and, importantly,
real employment through the reintroduction of work
rights. The real work experience and job readiness that
asylum seekers have gained through their volunteering
contributions have left them amply prepared to engage
employment opportunities in the Queensland labour
market, and in this respect we celebrate a job well done.
We also celebrate these very people, who are now making
wonderful contributions to the Queensland community
under trying circumstances.
In another way, these latest developments signal the
gradual winding down of work that has come to define us
the past few years. I would like to extend my profound
gratitude to all our wonderful staff who have walked
alongside our clients during some of their most
challenging and uncertain days.
On a different note, we’ve witnessed this year an unrivalled
polarisation of broad public sentiment towards migrants,
refugees and asylum seekers, with Queensland’s Muslim
communities a particular target of vilification, abuse and
scapegoating in the wake of international events.
from our ceo
Kerrin Benson
However, just as we’ve witnessed the ascent
of disturbing new hyper-nationalist movements and
sentiments in the past twelve months, we’ve seen
increasing numbers of everyday Queenslanders
setting out to create a different vision.
I’m immensely proud of the sector leadership
we have been able to cement amidst this
turbulence, particularly through our mainstream
media engagement, communications campaigns,
systemic advocacy and the delivery of unifying public
events that attracted record numbers this year.
Our work in this space is providing the very
platform for a new narrative about multiculturalism
in Queensland to take shape. Slowly but surely,
we are helping to change the conversation and
sharing opportunities with increasing numbers
of Queenslanders to keep creating welcome
to contribute to a better future for all.
I would like to extend my
profound gratitude to all our
wonderful staff who have
walked alongside our clients
Finally, the MDA community mourned the
sudden passing of our beloved friend and
colleague, Ra Rangiawha, in November. Along
with his infectious laugh and enormous heart,
we were truly blessed that he shared with us
so freely his calm wisdom and genuine friendship.
One of Ra’s lasting gifts to us was his profound
belief in people’s capacity for greatness and the
importance of supportive community. He will
live in our hearts always.
10 11
strengthening our diversity
In promoting the positive benefits of migration and
multiculturalism, MDA seeks to cast the net wider,
expanding the collective sense of ‘We’, through
a re-defining of ‘Us’.
We achieve this through: uniting out state’s leadership;
linking new arrivals and longer term community members
through our volunteer program, particularly Family
Match; sharing stories in mainstream media; creating
opportunities for communities to come together; systemic
advocacy addressing barriers to equal opportunity and
social inclusion; empowering individuals to lead productive
lives in Australia; and promoting greater public recognition
of the gifts our cultural diversity brings to Queensland.
After all, we as Queenslanders may not share a history,
but we do share a prosperous and vibrant future.
Multiculturalism is no longer an aspiration or goal.
With now more than 25 per cent of Aussies born
overseas, multiculturalism is the reality of our rich
community tapestry.
Promoting social cohesion is work that we are immensely
proud to do at MDA. Just as division thrives where
we allow ourselves to live separately from one another,
it retreats wherever and whenever we come together.
Celebrating Queensland’s cultural diversity is among
MDA’s most core values, and the importance of positive
community relations extends far beyond our belief in the
good of social cohesion for its own sake.
At MDA we know that Australia’s multiculturalism
is a source of strength and opportunity and that
our new arrivals are a resource that will add
enormous value to our future.
QUEENSLAND
aglobal,networked
economy where
nearly
150,000people come to study,
work & play each year
READY
to benefit from the
skillsmigrants
bringtoQld
EDUCATION
our State’s most valuable
export commodity, with
86,000
choosing to study here
international
students
12 13
There is significant power in
the pledges made by individuals
as part of the campaign
The power of the pledge
Everyday people can help eliminate racism in our
community by calling it out when they see it.
It goes without saying that racism has no place at MDA.
We have been proud partners of the Australian Human
Rights Commision’s RACISM. IT STOPS WITH ME
campaign because we embody the very diversity that
defines Queensland and Australia, and the campaign message
resonates with all of us in our professional and personal lives.
MDA strives to create a welcoming, inclusive and socially
cohesive community for all and the campaign allows us
to continue to have conversations about racism and give
individuals the power to stand against it.
Thousands of people have been exposed to and engaged
with the campaign through MDA’s work:
•	 Since inception, we have recorded well over
800 pledges against racism
•	 We publicise all our campaign activity on social media,
to increase its reach. During the second half of 2014,
twelve facebook posts about the campaign were
viewed by nearly 40,000 people
•	 We created promotional videos around the campaign
that were showcased during the
2014 AFL Multicultural Round.
There is significant power in the pledges made by
individuals as part of the campaign.
It empowers people to critically think about how they will
take a personal stance against racist behaviour. Since the
beginning of time, the power of a simple pledge has been
one of the most enduring forces for action to publically
state our stance on social issues.
Of those who engaged in the campaign by making a pledge
in the last year:
•	 90 per cent were more confident to take action
against racism
•	 Nearly 80 per cent began conversations with friends
or family about racism
•	 42 per cent had challenged a racist comment.
Among our staff who have participated in the campaign:
•	 45 per cent had talked to a client about racism
•	 48 per cent had helped a client understand their rights
•	 Around 20 per cent had helped a client take
action on racism.
MDA has engaged high profile recruits through the
campaign, including AFL stars, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor,
local councillors and politicians, Queensland’s former
and current Police Commissioners, members of the Iraqi
soccer team (in Australia for the Asian Cup), author Tom
Keneally, and Bernard Fanning of Powderfinger fame.
Others have seen our work and approached us to find out
more about getting involved in the campaign, including the
Logan Metro Football Club. We have helped schools and
youth networks with information and activities to help
students and young people to engage with the campaign.
14 15
Asian Cup event unites Queensland’s Iraqi communities
Celebrations erupted from coast-to-coast in January when
the sound of the final whistle delivered the Socceroos’
most emphatic victory to date. However, behind the
scenes, a celebration of a different kind helped unite
Queensland’s Iraqi community in recognition of their
similarities and differences.
Organised as part of the Asian Cup 2015 Communities
Program, MDA was proud to support the Iraqi Unity
Association of Queensland (IUAQ) in delivering the Iraqi
Community Fun Day in January. The day sought to bring
together community groups to share and experience
diverse cultural values, customs and traditions, as well as
engage in activities and programs that aimed to develop
mutual understanding, respect and integration.
Ongoing sectarian conflict in Iraq along with local media
events had caused its tensions in the Queensland Iraqi
community which is comprised of people from diverse
ethnic, religious and cultural groups. The day brought
together this diversity in celebration of their differences
and in recognition of the many qualities they share.
On top of this, the event doubled-up as a welcome party
for the Iraq national football team! They touched down in
Brisbane ahead of their rampaging tournament run, cut-
short in the penultimate round by competition runner-up,
South Korea.
The Race Discrimination Commissioner
visits the BMC (twice!)
Hearing Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner,
Dr Tim Soutphommasane speak in person is about as close
to the definition of pure inspiration as you can imagine.
In late 2014, MDA was privileged to have the Commissioner
drop in to a staff day. For the occasion, we launched a film
we had produced of conversations with individuals about
the impacts of racism and what we can all do to change it.
In celebration of the success of the RACISM. IT STOPS
WITH ME campaign over the last three years, the
Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) staged
a series of events around Australia to thank existing
supporters and their efforts, and also to inspire new
supporters.
We were delighted when they approached MDA to
showcase our work as a supporter with the goal of inspiring
others to join the campaign, and also asked if MDA could
host the event at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre (BMC).
Dr Soutphommasane visited Brisbane to host the
supporters event, with about 20 guests from different
organisations attending.
Guests heard from the Commissioner, followed by MDA
about our experience with the campaign; Multicultural
Affairs Queensland representatives also spoke about
the campaign within their department in Queensland
Government and the impact of racism in Queensland.
Since the event, several of the organisations who
attended have approached MDA for more information
about campaign activities with a view to signing up as
supporters or holding their own anti-racism activities
and events.
The Queensland African Communities Council took
the opportunity to sign up to the campaign on the night
in the presence of the Commissioner. Additionally, MDA
took the opportunity to invite the Commissioner to
meet with Community Leaders who were holding their
regular gathering that evening.
Racism and race discrimination is, unfortunately, part
of the experience of many newcomers to Brisbane.
Leaders were keen to share their experiences with the
Commissioner and learn from him what could be done
to stop racism and make our community more harmonious.
The AHRC was in the process of holding a series of
consultations for the 40th anniversary of the Race
Discrimination Act, and the information that leaders
provided was valuable for the Commissioner
to contribute to this important work.
Elijah Buol from the Queensland African Communities Council
signing-up to the campaign with Dr Tim Soutphommasane
Iraqi Community Fun Day celebrations
16 17
Providing platform for united
community leadership
Building a strong and socially cohesive Queensland is about
creating spaces and opportunities for our state’s diverse
communities to build connections.
MDA is proud to facilitate connections and collaboration
of leaders and members of new and emerging communities
through our support of the Community Leaders’
Gathering (CLG).
Meeting monthly at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre,
leaders and representatives provide each other peer
support and learning that benefits the settlement of their
community members as well as creating a forum to collate
shared experiences in a way that enables them to provide
key advice to government agencies.
A key part of MDA’s Community Engagement work is
maintaining ongoing relationships with community leaders,
elders, youth representatives and members who are
the ultimate experts on their respective communities’
experiences, challenges and aspirations.
Support for the CLG stems from MDA’s deep respect
for the role community leaders and elders play in the
settlement of members of their communities. From
our vantage point, they are perhaps Queensland’s most
influential and tireless community builders, and without
a doubt the most unsung.
In addition to offering a meeting space, MDA also
provides the secretariat and other material support
to these monthly meetings which attract on average
10 -15 community leaders per month.
Highlights for 2014-15 include:
The breadth of skills and experience among
new arrivals will benefit us all
A Community Skills Audit undertaken by new
and emerging migrant and refugee communities
in Brisbane provided a much needed evidence
base about work skills, qualifications, experience
and aspirations.
The survey results provide a useful snapshot of:
•	 the wide breadth of education levels and skills
in newly arrived communities;
•	 a broad range of work and career aspirations,
spanning many industries, training and skill
levels; and
•	 a willingness of new arrivals to engage in
further learning, to work outside their
preferred occupation and even to volunteer,
in order to achieve their career goals.
The opportunity to gather, connect and
celebrate in Brisbane’s beautiful parklands
MDA consulted leaders about a Brisbane City
Council (BCC) proposal to introduce fees and
booking processes for large gatherings in Brisbane’s
public parks. Many community groups regularly
use parks for community gatherings and felt the fees
and complex application processes would create
a barrier for them.
The communities’ concerns were included in a
submission to the BCC and we are pleased to see
that final amendments made to park use regulations
did not require complex application processes or
fees for large gatherings (except for special uses
such as adventure sports, using marquees etc.).
Community leaders,
elders, and members are
the ultimate experts on
their communities
18 19
Queensland Community Alliance
It’s a tradition that has given rise to some of the globe’s
greatest political minds, including US President, Barack
Obama. Community organising aims to rebuild and
strengthen civil society, in turn providing communities with
a strong collective voice around matters of importance.
Now in its second year, the Queensland Community
Alliance is a non-partisan alliance of churches, mosques
and other faith groups coming together with charities,
unions, community organisations and ethnic associations
to work together for the common good. Through
a process of listening to stories of pressures that
members face and witness, it decides on issues for
community action, to seek change for the better.
As one of the Alliance’s founding members, MDA was
proud to provide significant support to the Alliance’s 2014
Assembly, held at Inala’s St Mark’s Catholic Primary School
and attracting more than 460 people from 17 union, faith
and community organisations. The three co-chairs for the
event, representing faith, union and community, included
MDA’s Mitra Khakbaz as community chair.
The assembly heard personal stories of discrimination,
and experiences of hope through action. Mitra’s heartfelt
tale of her personal motivation for her work and for
supporting the alliance included sharing the inspiring
example of her mother’s strength through incredible
adversity, and her own migrant journey–it was responsible
for more than a few misty eyes throughout the room.
We were excited to see so many of our new communities
taking an active interest in the Alliance by attending
the assembly, including the more established Ethiopian
community and new arrivals from Brisbane’s Somali
community. With limited English language, these
new arrivals made connections and found commonalities
with others who came from different unions or faith
organisations.
For more information about the Alliance, go to
www.qldcommunityalliance.org
MDA was proud to provide
significant support to the
Alliance’s 2014 Assembly
A full house at the Queensland CommunityAlliance assembly in Inala
The double life of the Brisbane
multicultural centre
Bustling Brisbane headquarters for MDA and QPASTT
by day, and thriving community centre by night.
The Brisbane Multicultural Centre (BMC) is
a low-cost, safe and supportive environment for
multicultural communities to meet, create and interact.
The BMC’s doors are wide open for AGMs, training
sessions, workshops, expos, cultural celebrations, music
and dance rehearsals, book clubs, and karate classes.
The BMC’s five-to-nine life accounted for more than
17 extra productive working weeks in the 2014-15 period,
to the direct benefit of almost 5000 Queenslanders.
The centre has evolved into a fantastic diversity incubator,
providing a place where people from various communities
can connect, grow, and learn together.
Just four kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD, the BMC
at Woolloongabba is an ideal location for meetings, events,
workshops, training programs, community celebrations, and
many more. There are six community spaces that can house
between 10 to 150 people. The spaces are available for use
seven days a week between 9am-10pm. Phone 07 3337 5400
to find out more.
Nowruz celebrations at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre in March 2015
2014-15 BMC Overview
Who accessed the
BMC in 2014-15
Afghan Tertiary Students of
Queensland African Australian
Women’s Association Ahwazi
Community ASCOF Auscongo
Network Australian Oromo
Community Australian Society
of Graduate Tamils Burundian
Community Community Service
(Liberia) Congolese Community
association of Queensland
Eritrean Community Association
in Queensland Ethiopian
Association of Queensland
Iranian Society of Queensland
Iraqi Unity Association of
Queensland Liberian United
women of Queensland Newroz
- Kurdish Committee Nigerian
Community Ndaegbomei Social
Club Queensland Rohingya
Community ORIOZ Community
Rwandan Association of
Queensland Sierra Leone
Community South Sudanese
Community MDA Diversity Choir
Bicultural support service
Women Leadership Support Group
MDA English Classes Healthy
Start Session Lawn Mowing
Training MDA Volunteers
Nowruz Celebration Youth
Settment Support MDA
Citizenship Test Support
MDA/Australian Human Rights
Commission Mindfullness
Training Diaspora Rehearsal
Community Leaders Consultation
Kurdish/Persian Music
Rehearsal Welcomefest
Food Handling Training MDA/
QPASTT Community Leaders
Function QPASST AGM M-YES
ECCQ - Leadership Training &
Graduation Ceremony Mater
Hospital People Power Service
Colombian Consulate Judiane
Body Corporate Digi Youth Arts
Griffith University Nuer
Community
accessed by Almost
5000people in 2014-15
mainly from a
diverseor refugee background
from more than
21communities
20 21
In order to reframe the narrative around migrants,
refugees and asylum seekers we strive to develop
meaning and purpose through sharing the stories
of the communities we work with, developing
shared understanding and opening up new
dialogue based on fact and lived experience.
The power of the media is so dominant, it can sometimes
eliminate space to introduce new perspectives. Changing
the conversation is about broadening the public space
for positive messaging so that it includes face to face
engagement and digital platforms and exchange.
Central to MDA’s vision and purpose is to
#ChangeTheConversation by increasing awareness
and understanding of the benefits of a diverse community
and to build a culture of welcome in Queensland.
We work towards this goal by identifying stories from our
diverse cultural communities and working collaboratively
with mainstream media agencies and through our own
media channels to bring them to life. At other times, the
goal is to bring counterpoints and balance to the debate
about multiculturalism in Australia when the news cycle
takes a negative turn.
However, #ChangeTheConversation does not only represent
our own media and communications objectives. It is a call to
action to all Queenslanders and others from further afield to
play their part in shifting the narrative around multiculturalism
in Australia to one that not only embraces our diversity, but
recognises diversity as our greatest strength.
MDA’s mainstream media engagement, along with social
media and self-publishing platforms are contributing to the
diversity of media content in a way that helps promote
understanding and celebration of the cultural, linguistic and
ethnic diversity of the Australian population.
changing the conversation
A central part of MDA’s
vision and purpose remains to
#ChangeTheConversation
SOCIAL MEDIA
reached more than
1.4munique users on facebook
CONNECTING
with more than
800kpeople through MDA’s website
TELLING STORIES
more than
30unique videos made in-house
22 23
MDA ran regular concerted campaigns through Facebook
that addressed particular themes and days of observance.
Our Father’s and Mother’s Day campaigns were particularly
poignant, highlighting the immense universality of the human
condition that is lived through these life giving roles.
#WhiteRibbonDay is another event that MDA continues
to rally behind each year as a call to action of universal
importance that cuts across every culture in our community.
We engaged several White Ribbon Ambassadors around
recording video messages in the lead up to White Ribbon
Day in November, in turn publicised through our social media
channels. Queensland Police Commissioner, Ian Stewart
(pictured above) was one who participated in our campaign,
with his video generating more than 115,000 views.
social media, what is it good for?
With the world’s networked population now in the billions,
social media has become one of the prime shaping forces
for collective action. It builds a community of engaged and
informed supporters as we can attest with a milestone of
6000 followers in June. As well as putting the spotlight on
the success stories that characterise our diversity, social
media continued to play a critical role in mobilising the
Queensland community around our signature events.
The exposure generated through our social media
channels meant that more than 30,000 people attended
LUMINOUS and WELCOMEfest this year, creating
welcome in a big way and ensuring that our sponsors,
who make these events possible, reaped positive
returns for their investment dollars.
The latter months of 2014 were sadly tainted with
a surge in incidences of abuse targeted at members
of Queensland’s Muslim communities in the wake of widely
televised news events at home and abroad. Following the
tremendous impact of the now renowned #IllRideWithYou
hashtag, we were proud to support Queensland’s Muslim
communities through sharing the message that the views
and actions of extremists do not represent them, nor do
they represent true Islam.
Many members from MDA’s staff produced their own
messages around the #NotInMyName hashtag, generating
thousands of likes, shares and comments of solidarity.
LUMINOUS
Facebook posts from
MDA’s offical page
LEFT: Live posts from the event,
showcasing the public’s interaction
by posting images of them involved
with the celebration
BELOW:A sponsor post from MDA
acknowledging our special partners
for the event
LUMINOUS saw the unvieling of ‘Get social with MDA’ - a place where
the public are invited to take photos with messages of welcome and share
on social media to help change the conversation Iman and Damian from the MDA Media and
Communications team picured with the award at the
2014 Premier’s Queensland Cultural Diversity Awards.
Premier’s Award
MDA’s Media and Communications team was proud
to receive public recognition for its work in August 2014,
winning the Premier’s Queensland Cultural Diversity Award
in the Media and Communications category during
Queensland Cultural Diversity Week!
8,742 people joined the LUMINOUS Facebook
event page
845,165 - total campaign reach
(how many times LUMINOUS appeared
in peoples newsfeeds)
13,971 - total engagements
(likes, shares, comments)
41,971 - total post clicks
LUMINOUS social media highlights
24 25
•	 Two video stories celebrating Tết Nguyên Đán
(Vietnamese Lunar New Year)
•	 An Australian story on the Vietnamese name,
Nguyen, which is on track to become Australia’s
most common name
•	 Queensland Police Service reaffirming its stance
against racial and religious vilification
•	 Video story marking Nowruz (Persian New Year)
celebrations in Brisbane
•	 Harmony Day celebrations at Richlands East State
School, one of the most culturally diverse primary
schools in Brisbane
•	 The story of former ‘Lost Boys’, war orphans
from South Sudan, who have since established
themselves in Queensland
•	 A story on local initiatives working to create
cohesive, diverse neighbourhoods (marking
Neighbour Day celebrations).
Change The Conversation – The MDA Blog
In late 2014 we were proud to establish Change the
Conversation - the MDA blog. Stories published in the
2014-15 financial year included:
•	 The positive impacts of MDA clients volunteering
with the Asthma Foundation
•	 Queensland’s Maori communities and their
relationship to Waitangi Day
•	 The importance of multicultural radio broadcasting
in strengthening Queensland’s diversity (marking
UNESCO’s World Radio Day)
•	 The capacity for stand-up comedians to act as agents
for social change by helping shift the narrative about
multiculturalism in Australia (marking the Brisbane
Comedy Festival)
•	 Queenslanders involved in programs aimed
at preserving language and cultural identity
(marking International Mother Language Day)
Volunteering with the
Asthma Foundation Harmon y Da y celebrations at
Richlands East State School
Multicultural radio
broadcasting
Celebrating VietnameseLunar New Year
The Good Lie Charity Screening
for Harmony Da y
MDA and BEMAC celebrated Harmony Day in March
with a charity movie screening of the acclaimed movie,
The Good Lie, staring Reese Witherspoon and recounting
the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The event raised funds
for MDA’s Donate a Ride campaign, assisting new arrivals
build essential connections through helping meet the
costs of public transport.
‘Lost Boys’ refers to the 26,000 war orphans – mostly
boys – who fled Sudan on foot; first to neighboring
Ethiopia in 1987 and then to Kenya when Ethiopia’s
Marxist government was overthrown in 1991.
The film follows the emotionally charged journey of three
Sudanese refugees as they build a new life in America
following 13 years spent in a Kenyan refugee camp.
Queenslander and former Lost Boy, Peter Madit,
shares a similar story of survival, before he gained the
opportunity to resettle in Brisbane in 2002.
Not long after arriving in Brisbane, Peter secured
a paid work experience opportunity with Anglicare’s
Brisbane headquarters where he sparked up a new
friendship with now retired Anglican Priest, John Arnold.
In 2004, John helped Peter establish SALBAGO
(the Sudanese Australian Lost Boys and Girls Organisation);
set up to share mutual support within the newly arrived
diaspora. Around 100 Lost Boys were active members
at its peak.
Story telling and documentation was another objective
of SALBAGO, run off an oil rag in a Newmarket office
space lent by a generous university professor.
A successful scholar with many letters to his name,
Peter has already been accepted into Swinburne
University’s MBA program which he looks forward
to commencing next year.
Earlier on, Peter established one of the first African
retail outlets in Moorooka, initiating the African
reinvention of the suburb’s commercial strip
– now one of Brisbane’s most vibrant and unique
cultural hubs.
Now married with two young
children, the 32 year-old
is writing a book about his
incredible story – The Journey
Not Yet Finished. Peter is
undeniably proud of the
resilience he shares with
fellow former Lost Boys, and
hopes his story will inspire
his own children towards big
ambitions.
Lost Boy, Peter Madit
26 27
New focus on former refugees
Their faces reveal stories of tradition, determination,
hope and the adventure of starting life anew.
A unique, touring photographic exhibition put a new frame
around migrant journeys earlier this year, offering the
community a glimpse into the world of everyday people
with extraordinary stories, told through the lens.
Celebrating Queensland’s new arrivals, Focus on Welcome
2015 featured a collection of 30 stunning images, each with
its own story that connects the past and present, as new
arrivals set about establishing a life in Australia.
The event was launched in Queen Street Mall (Brisbane
CBD) before making appearances at both LUMINOUS and
WELCOMEfest, and then hitting the road to Rockhampton,
Toowoomba, Dalby and the Zillmere Festival.
Curated and presented by MDA, Focus on Welcome offered
a vivid portal into new and emerging cultural communities
in Queensland, and their contributions to every facet of
community life.
Key moments in the lives of Queensland’s new arrivals
were also captured in the exhibition, including walking
up the front stairs to their new home; being welcomed
on the first day of their new job; and watching their
children make new friends at the local park.
For each and every one of us, our culture is fundamental
to who we are and for our state’s newest arrivals, being
able to share their culture through dress, food, music
and dance is a large part of feeling valued and welcomed
by their new communities.
The power of photography in enabling the sharing of culture
is the impact of the frame itself. Photographs provide the
kind of distance between ourselves and the subject matter
that often allows us to see things in a new light.
Several talented photographers were behind the stunning
images on display in the exhibition, including long-term
MDA photographer Dean Holland, MDA staff photographer
Muhammad Raza, MDA staff member Behice Bagdas, along
with Essi Dashtar and Mana Salsali, winners of last year’s
Lens on LUMINOUS photographic competition.
Focus on Welcome
offered a vivid
portal into new and
emerging cultural
communities in
Queensland
28 29
Ten simple actions to change the conversation!
#bepartofthechange
Know your own
history!
We are all part of
the diversity that
surrounds us. Know
and be proud of
your story, and
share your own
experiences with
others across
generations.
Experience
something new
Invite friends from
cultural backgrounds
different from your
own to experience
the joy of your
traditions and
customs, and find
joy in theirs!
Mind your Ps
and Qs
The language
we use really
matters. Avoid
the use of broad
or stereotypical
remarks, and
challenge those
made by others.
Speak out against
racism when you
see it.
Know the facts...
...on multiculturalism
and diversity
in Queensland,
including our First
Nations history.
Provide accurate
information when
you encounter
harmful myths or
stereotypes. Discuss
with others around
you the impacts of
prejudicial attitudes
and behaviour.
Get out and
about!
Plan outings to
different cultural
attractions in your
local area, and
invite friends and
family to come with
you! This could
include diverse
retail precincts,
cultural events,
restaurants or
exhibits at galleries
or museums.
Start young
At your children’s
school, start
a multicultural
group to promote
harmony and
respect for
differences.
Encourage
teaching staff to
make cultural
differences and
prejudice a part
of classroom
discussions and
assessment.
In the workplace
Encourage your
workplace to
adopt respect for
diversity as one
of its core values,
including awareness
and respect
for different
workstyles.
Share your lunch!
Learn about your
co-workers’ cultural
backgrounds and
share your own.
Make this a topic
for the lunch room
or swap lunchtime
recipes!
In your place of
worship
Encourage your
leaders to celebrate
diversity and
condemn all
forms of bigotry.
Encourage friends
of other faiths to
visit your religious
services and share
your religion with
them. Ask them
to return the
invitation in kind!
Speak up!
Support those
affected by racial
or religious
discrimination
to speak up!
For many, this
is a formidable task,
but agencies like
the Anti
Discrimination
Commission
Queensland are
always there
to help.
30 31
MDA’s signature events are designed to encourage
the participation of the whole community in
celebrating and valuing our cultural diversity.
They offer a unique snapshot of a our collective identity,
providing an opportunity to showcase cultural practice
and tradition, strengthen intercultural dialogue and
promote a deeper understanding through a shared
positive experience.
With the help of committed partners we make a significant
investment to Brisbane’s creative economy by delivering
unique and signature celebrations that provide a one of
a kind experience for participants and that contribute
to increased social capital.
LUMINOUS and WELCOMEfest (formerly the World
Refugee Day Community Festival) attracted over 30,000
people this year, uniting the Queensland community in
public and spectacular expressions of welcome to all
newcomers to our state.
Both events have become key focus points for mainstream
media engagement, raising further awareness of the
contribution of diverse cultures to the Queensland
community, while highlighting the groundswell of public
support for multiculturalism in Queensland.
MDA was also proud to support many more localised
community events this past year that place the spotlight
firmly on our diversity and the blessings it brings.
celebrating community
APPRECIATION
95%say that attending events
enhanced their appreciation for
Queensland’s cultural diversity
MEDIA
unique enquiries to our
communications team in
2014-15, nearly
200
ENGAGING
100+community groups, schools,
businesses and organisations taking
part at luminous lantern parade
of MDA event
attendees
32 33
Sharing white elephants!
MDA delivered two White Elephant Day events
in 2014-15, harnessing community goodwill through
the donation of pre-loved second hand items.
We are inspired each time by new examples of everyday
Queenslanders rallying their friends and communities to
help bring much needed material support to newly arrived
refugees and asylum seekers in our community.
Through his involvement in the New Farm and Districts
Historical Society and a local church, Phil Evans has helped
muster the goodwill of others around a variety of causes
including one of the events from 2014-15.
“Every year the New Farm and Districts Historical
Society has an empty Christmas tree at their last meeting
of the year and they ask people to bring along donations.
We then choose together what we consider to be
a worthy recipient each year for the gifts…this year
I suggested that we do it for MDA for White Elephant Day.
Everyone agreed, so that’s how it all came about,” Phil said.
Even the surge
of yet another
torrential
downpour on the
day did not deter
Phil from delivering
the items to MDA,
which included
an assortment
of toiletries
along with an
additional cash
donation which
MDA applied
to purchasing
similar items to fill
hampers for newly
arrived people.
MDA’s Sinhalese and Tamil New Year
Celebrations 2015
MDA held its third annual Sinhalese and Tamil New
Year celebration in April 2014, bringing together both
communities for a night of food, music, dance and
laughter to ring in the New Year.
It was a truly collaborative event, coordinated by
MDA and amply supported by the Tamil and Sinhalese
community associations who work diligently to
promote the well-being of their respective communities.
This cooperative approach ensured that elements from
both cultural communities were equally represented.
Both Sinhalese and Tamil community leaders and members
came together to celebrate the New Year, with more than
150 people in attendance. The performances showcased
the incredible creative talent that exists amongst their
communities. MDA’s wonderful volunteers and many
members of the broader Australian community shared
in a fantastic night of celebrations alongside our
Sri Lankan friends.
A young girl performing at the Sinhalese
and Tamil New Year celebrations
Lansana Camara from Guinea pla ysthe kora at Zillmere Festival
Colourful dancers light up the
stage at Zillmere Festival
Around 1500 people hit the streets of Zillmere
in September 2014 for the Zest! Festival Market
Day, capping off a fantastic week of celebrations.
The Zillmere Festival featured a weeklong program
of events and activities showcasing Zillmere’s rich
cultural diversity, but the final instalment was always
destined to steal the show, with a daylong street party
of energetic live entertainment, cultural foods, crafts,
and children’s activities drawing large numbers of festival
goers from the local area and further afield.
The crowd was a direct reflection of the diversity
for which Zillmere has become well known, with a broad
cross-section of people of different ages and backgrounds
soaking up the sights and sounds in an endless procession
of leisurely enjoyment. The Market Day not only
highlighted the cultures and talents of more recent
migrant groups, but also the area’s first people, with
Kurbingui Youth Development Association working with
Jabiru Community Youth and Children’s Services to deliver
a fantastic Indigenous program as part of the celebrations.
The event organisers were supported throughout the day
by an enthusiastic and dedicated team of volunteers from
the Queensland University of Technology, who applied
their energies to a wide range of logistical tasks, and made
a significant contribution to the success of the day.
Entertainment highlights included a wonderful kora
(African harp) performance by Lansana Camara from
Guinea, and beautiful music and dance courtesy of the
Murray Island Dancers.
The Zest! Festival Market Day was proudly hosted by Jabiru
Community Youth and Children’s Services, with support
from MDA, Brisbane City Council and the Queensland
Government as part of Queensland Cultural Diversity
Week celebrations.
34 35
LUMINOUS lights up Brisbane!
One of our most humbling hours
dawned on 5 June this year when an
estimated 15,000 people gathered at
South Bank Parklands for the eighth
annual LUMINOUS Lantern Parade
Welcoming new Queenslanders.
We have consciously repositioned the event in recent years
from a vigil acknowledging the plight of refugees worldwide
towards the theme of welcoming all newcomers to the
state; a move that has been celebrated by former refugees
and their communities as it recognises their established
identity as Queenslanders rather than the label of an earlier
life experience that many have moved far beyond.
The fact that attendance from former refugees and
their communities remained strong supported this case.
As per recent years, we were also inspired by the increasing
diversity of the crowd, uniting our state’s leadership along
with people representing virtually every culture, nationality
and life journey that comprises Brisbane.
There were some new additions to the more established
line-up of lanterns this year, supplied as usual by the
brilliant team at Light’n Up Inc., Lismore. Arguably the
most famous and loved Australian comedic export was
amongst them. Dame Edna Everage, the Queen of Moonee
Ponds and stages worldwide, took her place in lantern
form amongst the dozens of other exotic and native
animals, celestial shapes and other characters.
A special cultural program aimed at school children was
another new addition to the proram this year. Happening
at South Bank Parklands in the hours leading up to the
big event, Little LUMINOUS engaged pupils from schools
spanning greater Brisbane in a fun series of interactive
workshops centred on different cultural traditions and
skills, including mandala making, Bollywood dance, African
drumming, Indigenous dance, lantern making and more.
Part of Queensland Week celebrations, MDA’s LUMINOUS Lantern Parade
was proudly presented in partnership with our welcome partners, TAFE
Queensland English Language and Literacy Services, Dealer Solutions,
Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council, Westpac, Anti Discrimination
Commission Queensland, Australia for UNHCR and LightnUp Inc.
Staff from TAFE Queensland
creating welcome at LUMINOUS
Young and old sharing in the spirit
of humanity at LUMINOUS
Little LUMINOUS was a hit with
the kids that took part
Dame Edna Everage
making an apearance
at LUMINOUS!
Image courtesy of Mick Porter
36 37
Toowoomba and Rockhampton
Walk Together
Toowoomba and Rockhampton put their best feet
forward in October, taking part in the annual Walk
Together event, coordinated by Welcome to Australia.
In recent years, Walk Together has united more than
10,000 people in cities across the nation, in a visible
display of the recognition that although we’ve all arrived
here via different pathways, we share a common
Australian journey.
For a third year running, MDA took part in the
campaign, inviting the Australian community to again
Walk Together in recognition that we’ve all walked
different paths to form part of the Australian story.
Rockhampton residents spread
Christmas cheer
The generosity of staff, pupils and their families
at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in
Rockhampton shared the joy of Christmas with
refugee children, with around 40 individual gifts
donated through a special drive.
Children received gifts based on their likes and
interests with the aim of developing self-esteem.
The donated presents were greatly appreciated
by the children, and those donating said they
enjoyed selecting gifts with their own children
and highlighting the importance of the spirit
of giving at Christmas time.
A little bit of TLC in Toowoomba
Toowoomba celebrated during 2014 Cultural Diversity
Week with the ninth annual Toowoomba Languages and
Cultures (TLC) Festival in August, coordinated by the
Toowoomba International Multicultural Society (TIMS)
with support from MDA, the Toowoomba Regional
Council and Multicultural Affairs Queensland.
TLC showcased hundreds of craft and food stalls,
performers and cultural workshops, celebrating
the vibrant cultural diversity of the Darling Downs.
MDA was especially excited to support the ‘Gathering
of Women’, a social enterprise formed by many of the
Afghan women who have recently settled in the region,
as they marketed their stunning array of home-made
crafts and foods. On the day, they became the focus
of a sensational SBS news piece that was widely
shared through social media.
Afghan women at TLC showcasing
their home-made crafts
Getting read y to Walk Together
in Rockhampton!
Toowoomba gearing up to
Walk Together in 2014
38 39
Searching for a life that matters
A special project was undertaken this year to raise
awareness of mental health stigma within the Tamil,
Hazara and Rohingyan communities in Rockhampton
through a series of participatory workshops.
Funded through Partners in Recovery (Rockhampton),
the Culture Compass program was supported
by MDA and Culture in Mind.
Culture in Mind delivered mental health training targeting
local cultural support workers, highlighting the ways that
cultural beliefs and values may shape how people perceive
and experience stigma associated with mental health, and
how these perceptions and experiences can vary from
culture to culture.
The Culture Compass workshop program invited MDA
clients to explore their past, present and future, reworking
personal narratives held in relation to their life journeys,
in turn highlighting the various strengths that have carried
them through their earlier difficult experiences.
This process was supported through expressive outlets,
including written work, visual art and music. All artworks
produced were accompanied by stories from clients
describing how they were overcoming life’s challenges
in symbolic terms – especially those surrounding their
extremely traumatic history and circumstances as refugees.
Artworks produced in the workshops were
also exhibited, along with performances,
music, food and entertainment at
Culture Compass, a concert and awards
presentation at the end of May.
The discovery and encouragement of a couple of talented
singers amongst the workshop attendees by workshop
musician Cieavash Arean was a joyful bonus!
From a mental health point-of-view, the program
was designed to help our clients recognise stigma
around mental health – both in their native cultural
context as well as in their current environment in
Australia. From a cultural point of view it was designed
as an appreciative inquiry exercise to rejuvenate a sense
of creativity and explore ways of overcoming difficulty
through creative expression.
This constitutes a new and innovative approach to work
around mental illness and the settlement of refugees –
especially in its use of appreciative inquiry and use of the
Culture Compass as a means to identify cultural influences
on the individual and how the process can be used to
inspire creativity and consolidate a sense of self despite
challenging life circumstances.
Thousands celebrate
WELCOMEfest
More than 17,000 people attended WELCOMEfest
– formerly World Refugee Day Community Festival
– in June 2015, renamed to highlight Brisbane’s
history of welcoming newly arrived refugees and
embracing them into the community.
The eighth annual festival marked Refugee Week 2015
by bringing together Brisbane’s diverse communities to
promote understanding, harmony and respect for refugees.
Held at the Annerley Soccer Club Fields in Greenslopes,
WELCOMEfest opened with around 50 former refugees
becoming new Australians in a citizenship ceremony that
has become a hallmark of the annual event.
The event had a great music and dance program
showcasing community groups and individual artists from
all over the world that now call Brisbane home.
WELCOMEfest 2015 was about promoting the message that
refugees and migrants are welcome in Australia, offering
the opportunity for people to experience the contributions
that former refugees are making to our cultural, creative,
sporting, economic and civic fabric in Queensland.
The football finals were a big drawcard for many.
The qualifying rounds offered the opportunity
to spread the raw talent and excitement to new
grounds, with St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace generously
playing host at their state-of-the-art complex in Tennyson.
Our gratitude and thanks goes to the staff, students and
parents of St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace.
Believed to be the largest refugee celebration in Australia,
the festival was part of World Refugee Week 2015
celebrations and presented by MDA and Brisbane City
Council, with support from Football Queensland and the
Queensland Government.
40 41
Only days out from its 75th birthday celebrations,
Brisbane’s most iconic landmark was lit up in the
WELCOMEfest colours red, yellow and blue in
an incandescent celebration of Queensland’s rich
cultural diversity.
The spectacle came as the curtain raiser to MDA’s
WELCOMEfest, in celebration of Queensland’s
refugee communities.
The festival offered revellers the chance to tour the world
in a single day, with delectable delights from the proverbial
four corners along with a jam packed, day long program
of energetic live entertainment.
The heritage listed Story Bridge houses a fascinating
chapter of Queensland’s migration history. Yungaba House,
situated directly beneath the bridge in Kangaroo Point,
served as the reception and orientation point for countless
new arrivals to Queensland for more than a century.
Nowadays the same precinct is home to the Queensland
Multicultural Centre and Radio 4EB, Brisbane’s multilingual
community radio service.
Story Bridge welcomes
new Queenslanders
The eighth annual festival
marked Refugee Week 2015
by bringing together Brisbane’s
diverse communities
enriching our future
Ongoing migration to Queensland will continue
to strengthen Queensland’s position as part of the
global networked economy.
MDA’s existing professional and community networks
along with its cultural expertise is leading the way in
boosting Queensland’s capacity to support increasing
numbers of migrants, in turn strengthening Queensland’s
place in Australia and the world for the benefit of all.
New arrivals to Queensland possess an array of qualities
that place them in a unique position to add value to our
economy and communities. It’s not only the diverse skill
sets they possess, but a certain determination to establish
themselves in the Queensland community through
economic participation.
Actions that compliment and support their preparedness
to seize available opportunities represent a very minor
investment with potentially enormous returns.
MDA continued its work this year strengthening our
shared future through assisting new arrivals to prepare
for employment and access employment opportunities.
Clearly, children from culturally and linguistically diverse
backgrounds are also worthy of significant investment,
and this year we continued our work enhancing the
cultural competence and responsiveness of the early
childhood sector through the work of our Bicultural
Support Services team.
STRONG FOUNDATIONS
More than
650individuals housed
EMPLOYMENT
240 jobsoutcomes for MDA clients
VOLUNTEERS
more than
21benefited from MDA client
volunteers
charity
organisations
44 45
“...it’s an outlet that also gives
something tangible and meaningful
back to the community.”
A New Lease on Life for Donated Bikes
A shipping container based at MDA’s Northside office in
May was packed to the roof with 200 refurbished bicycles
given a new lease on life by MDA’s client volunteers.
The shipment soon set sail to Pormpuraaw, an Aboriginal
community in Cape York, far north Queensland, where
the bicycles are now part of a community program
to promote healthy lifestyles and improved school
attendance.
Thirteen asylum seekers volunteered in the restoration
of donated bicycles since October last year in
a partnership between MDA, the Nundah Activity
Centre, and Bikes 4 Life; a volunteer-based charity that
has supported the repair and distribution of donated
bicycles throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, and
as far afield as Uganda.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Nundah Activity
Centre’s General Manager, Mr Don Rudd.
“We’re all about trying to put together things for
newcomers to the community, and these are people
that really need a hand, including things that we can
hopefully fulfill with this kind of program, including social
engagement, some English language skills and local work
experience.”
But the benefits have flowed in both directions,
says Mr Rudd.
“Our guys learn
a lot from working with
refugees, including a greater
understanding of the situation
they face, some skills that they have, some
cultural information, and cultural exchange
– it’s a great program both ways,” he said.
MDA Vice Chair, Mr Peter Forday says the program
is not only of value to the volunteers themselves, but
has a host of wider community impacts.
“This project adds to the job readiness skills of the
volunteers, it helps people associate and mix, and
engage in dialogue with broader members
of the community,” he said.
“But it’s an outlet that also gives something tangible
and meaningful back to the community. The outcomes
have been absolutely fantastic, and not just for locals.
Even the recipients in Cape York are benefiting, and
they haven’t even met our clients. It meets so many
goals that compliment what MDA and the Nundah
Activity Centre are trying to achieve,” said Mr Forday.
As a final activity, the volunteers turned their hand to
an altogether different trade, decorating the container
with a vibrant mural as a welcoming gift to the
Pormpuraaw community.
Volunteers getting
artistic on the
shipping container
to be sent to
Pormpuraaw
46 47
But it’s their attitude, courtesy and willingness to adapt
to new role tasks that has perhaps left the greatest
impression on Rob and his Annerley colleagues.
“We’ve been working with MDA
clients...we’re finding the relationship
fruitful both ways,” Rob says.
“Their willingness to please and to be polite and
respectful is a trait were finding in all of MDA’s clients.
We’re also seeing that their skills are quickly adapted.
They might already have those skills, but they need to
adapt them to the retail component of the business.
Our retail component isn’t just ‘meet and greet’.
There’s the infrastructure component and the back
of house at the store, and they are picking up these
skills very quickly,” said Rob.
“We want to thank MDA for this opportunity.
The relationship has been terrific to date. MDA clients
are now part of our team, and our customers, I’ve got
to say, are enjoying it. First hand we’re seeing a good
result here and it should be encouraged,” he said.
Volunteer spirit enriches Asthma
Foundation
The year delivered more great stories about the real
difference MDA clients are making through volunteering
with a host of great community organisations and
programs, including the Asthma Foundation Queensland’s
Annerley shop.
Purchases made at the nationwide network of Asthma
Foundation Op Shops helps fund world-leading asthma
research right here in Australia – a mission now supported
in the Annerley shop by MDA client volunteers. But the
benefits are flowing in many different directions as shop
manager, Rob Maizels explains.
“We’ve been working with MDA clients at our Annerley
shop for about twelve months now and we’re finding the
relationship fruitful both ways,” Rob says.
“We’re really enjoying having the opportunity to work with
some very intelligent people, and from a skill point of view,
they are outstanding. What we’re seeing is a growth in
confidence in terms of communication and the way they
use their time with us as they keep coming regularly. The
exchange of ideas and communication, whether there’s
a language barrier or not, is breaking down the barriers
every week they are here. We see it in their confidence,
and we see the way they come out of themselves.
It’s not just a one off, we’re building a relationship that’s
working both ways,” he said.
Volunteering boosts work-readiness
of asylum seekers
A welcome policy development in the last financial year was
the reintroduction of work rights for many asylum seekers
in Queensland. Thanks to their efforts volunteering through
MDA’s Client Volunteering Program (CVP), many are now
well positioned to access employment opportunities on the
back of their local experience.
Bridging visa holder Mohammad Nurul (name altered) is
now the proud employee of a Brisbane Catholic Secondary
College after actively volunteering through the CVP, most
recently with the Asthma Foundation.
“Working at the Asthma Foundation was great for me.
I gained a lot of confidence practicing my English with
different people,” said Mohammad, who arrived in Australia
after fleeing Sudan where his family remain
in a refugee camp.
“At the Asthma Foundation, I got to work behind the
service counter, talk with customers, help with stock and
sometimes even go into the street to collect donations.
“It was a great chance for me to develop my language.
Before volunteering when I had no work rights, I often
felt a lot of boredom and experienced depression.”
“The chance to volunteer with organisations through MDA
is a brilliant initiative. Now with work rights, everything will
be better. I’m now looking forward again,” he said.
Match made in heaven
Mohammad also participated in an intake
of MDA’s Community Learning Initiative this year
which brought together work-readiness training
delivered by MDA and accredited training in
Business Administration through HELP Enterprises.
Each program intake culminates in a special
event called Right Match, where the new program
graduates pit their job interview skills against
a panel of employers representing a variety of
industries. At the sound of the bell, the program
graduates – including people form a wide variety
of cultural and occupational backgrounds
– rotate, and move on to the next employer,
akin to speed dating.
“I was really nervous, but it was a great
experience, and I gained a lot from practicing
with workers at MDA. This experience helped
me with my real job interview that got me a job
with the school,” he said.
A graduate at a Right Match event in May 2015
48 49
Continuing the Work & WelcomeTM
Journey
From Work & Welcome to New Australian of the Year,
Gabriel Ukuno’s 2001 placement at Padua College,
Kedron, set the foundations for more than a decade
of outstanding professional and community contributions.
Originally from Sudan (prior to the creation of a separate
South Sudanese State), Gabriel’s life was turned upside
down when his brother, a prominent politician, was
murdered at the hands of rebel forces only a stone’s
throw from where he was standing. Gabriel used his
profession as a journalist to criticise the State and its
complicit role in enabling the corruption, violence and
extrajudicial killings that were tearing his nation and life
apart. This undertaking made him the target of numerous
death threats and eventually forced him to leave his own
country in search of safety.
Down to his last dollar and on the brink of being forced
back into Sudan where he would face certain death,
a last minute encounter with a priest with Australian
connections opened the permanent resettlement
pathway that Gabriel and family so desperately craved.
Gabriel was one of the early Work & Welcome
program participants when it was called ‘Job Pledge’.
The completion of his placement quickly opened doors
that have seen Gabriel make enormous contributions
in the fields of settlement, education and community
development.
The New Australian of the Year Award acknowledges the
contributions of people who have migrated to Australia
within the last 18 years. Although quietly proud, he
says he wishes the trophy could be carved up and its
pieces distributed equally amongst the many African
Queenslanders who have contributed to the settlement
wellbeing of their respective communities, often involving
countless hours of voluntary service performed outside
the remit of their regular jobs. “The award belongs to the
entire community,” he said.
An award winning
program!
MDA along with Work & Welcome
program founder, Mark Taylor, were
delighted to receive public recognition
for this fantastic work in August 2014,
winning a Queensland Premier’s Cultural
Diversity Award in the field of Education
and Training for Queensland Cultural
Diversity Week 2014. The award
recognises the outstanding contribution
of the program in creating pathways
to employment for new Queenslanders.
Work&Welcome™continuestogrowin2014-15
Work & Welcome™ remains a unique program
offering invaluable job opportunities for refugees
and migrants in a very supportive environment.
There are now 22 workplaces who partner with
MDA in the program, and more than 100 refugees and
migrants have participated in it since the year 2000.
We have been delighted to partner with four
new workplaces this year:
•	 Lourdes Hill College (Hawthorne, Brisbane)
•	 St Rita’s College (Clayfield, Brisbane)
•	 Loreto College (Coorparoo, Brisbane)
•	 Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (Sydney)
With Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, the third non-school
partner has now joined the program, helping us to provide
an ever increasing breadth of placement opportunities.
Work & Welcome success
Yasir’s journey is a reminder of the diverse skill sets that many
migrants and former refugees bring with them on their arrival to
Australia. Fluent in four languages, Yasir is also a qualified scientist,
having obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Pakistan.
Since arriving in Australia, Yasir has gained qualifications in security
work and was the successful applicant for a term two Work &
Welcome placement with Loreto Normanhurst College in Sydney.
Having left a great impression on his colleagues, Yasir is now
employed by the school on an ongoing basis.
Yasir Rehman a Work & Welcome
success story
Zabihullah Abidi did his
Work &Welcome placement at
the State Library of Queensland
50 51
Like everywhere in Queensland, the composition of
children attending child care services is increasing in its
diversity, yet there is not always a strong understanding
of the role played by culture in shaping the behaviour of
children, the expectations of families, and the related
development of the child’s identity.
Additionally, the cultural expertise of educators from
culturally and lingustically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
working in early childhood education centres often
remains untapped beyond the provision of language
support. On top of this, educators working with families
from a CALD background are often uncomfortable asking
too many questions about culture and home life for fear
of being ‘inappropriate’ or causing offence.
The expo aimed to address these challenges by creating
a warm, welcoming, and safe environment for educators
to engage with MDA’s cultural support workers and learn
about child rearing practices in their culture of origin.
MDA remains incredibly grateful to the Health and
Community Services Workforce Council for their ongoing
commitment to this important future building work.
Cultural Expo
– Family Life in the Global Village
A special exhibition coordinated by MDA’s Bicultural
Support Services team this year provided early
childhood workers with refreshing new insights into
diverse cultures and child rearing practices along with
tips and activities to enhance their engagement with
culturally diverse children in the classroom setting.
Ten Cultural Support Workers (CSWs) and
community members set up a display, expo style,
to present information to early childhood workers
about their culture and child rearing practices, with
additional activities including; cooking (bread making),
craft (weaving and worry dolls), dance styles from
around the world, singing, storytelling and
a ‘Samoan Rev Up’.
The main focus was to provide educators with
examples of activities that they can reproduce in their
service to engage children with cultural diversity.
Information, including factsheets and other resources
were also distributed on the day.
Case in point
We recently received an inquiry from an
educator who attended the expo wanting
to arrange professional development in
cultural inclusion for her team.
During the discussion she mentioned
that she was struggling to help a child
from an African background to settle into
the service. The MDA program worker
mentioned that we have a number of CSWs
from different African backgrounds that
may be able to help, and that one particular
man is a great story teller who would
probably be particularly engaging for this
group of older children.
The educator immediately said “Not
Costa! He’s amazing!” It turned out that
she had enjoyed and remembered his
stories from the expo. As she knew Costa
and could envisage the work they could
do together, she was very enthusiastic.
Costa is currently working with her and
the children in her OSHC service.
Costa, one of MDA’s Cultural Support Workers
52 53
HSS client carves out a new beginning
Sculpting is a rare pursuit here in Australia, but one that has
rich history in Afghanistan, with many having earned their
living by chipping away at cold, hard stone with little more
than a chisel, hammer, and an inspired mind’s eye.
When the Hosseini family were welcomed to Queensland
through MDA’s Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS)
program last year, Mubarak Shah Hosseini had left behind
his cherished trade – a trade that brought about the
very reason for his decision to round up a few modest
possessions, and leave the country with his family
in search of safety.
“In Afghanistan, the Taliban are
against people making sculptures
and these kinds of things,” says Said
Mujtaba Hosseini, one of Mubarak
Shah’s sons.
“The Taliban warned my father that
he better leave or they
would (kill him). People
used to invest a lot of
money in beautiful
sculptures and
people were
able to run
businesses, but
now people
know it’s not
worth spending
money.”
The Taliban
had earlier
destroyed the
breathtaking
Buddhas of
Bamiyan,
one of the world’s archaeological wonders, but Said
Mujtaba says their cultural influence lingers on.
“Many people began sculpting because of the Buddhas and
their beauty. Most people didn’t even study sculpting.
They learn from looking at things like that and
watching others.”
Mubarak Shah was an exception, his talent gaining him
a Masters degree at university, and for a while, earning
him a good living.
On arriving in Australia, however, Mubarak Shah became
depressed without a sense of purpose. But his case
manager, Tadewos Beyene, provided the encouragement
and support to help him launch a new aspiration; he would
become a sculptor again in Australia.
“Since he’s started working on new sculptures, he’s the
happiest person in the world when he talks to me now,”
says Tadewos.
Said Mujtaba says his father’s beautiful creations take weeks
of effort. His work was exhibited in a competition
at Brisbane City Hall recently where he won a prize.
“There were a lot of different art types there. My father’s
was distinct. It was a man with his wife, two kids, and their
donkey trying to leave the country to find a safe place.”
At 60 years of age, Mubarak Shah is now hopeful he will
once again earn a living doing what he does best.
“My father’s English is not so strong, but sculpting is good
for him because his job is not related to English. He’s guided
by his hands and body,” said Said Mujtaba.
“He’s so happy since he started doing this again. He says
it makes him a young man again.”
Big steps in short time for HSS client
MDA HSS Case Manager, Anouska Nelson, often sees big
transformations in her clients as they build new aspirations
for their life in Australia, but the story of a single woman from
Liberia left a really special mark.
“When I started working with her last year, she was generally
feeling quite depressed. Her circumstances were quite difficult.
She used to say things to me like, ‘My life is hopeless.’ She felt
she didn’t have any purpose.”
As their relationship grew, so too did the woman’s hopes
for the future.
“I linked her with a volunteer in MDA’s Family Match program.
She also started to make plans around how she would make
a living in Australia. She was very eager to get a job.
After doing some research together, she decided she
wanted to work in aged care, so we found a course and
she enrolled. It was inspiring how far she was travelling
every day, but that was part of her new optimism. She
wanted to succeed. Her relationship with her volunteer
was also quite special. She’d say things like how her
volunteer ‘gets me out of the house, is making me active,
and is making me feel young all over again.’”
“Since she moved on from HSS, she’s now completed her
studies in Aged Care. She looked happy and healthy and
said her life is now full of purpose. Actually, she’d just
completed a job interview with the same provider she did
her aged care placement at. She had a really good feeling
about how the interview went. Also, she was shopping
at Aldi, so she knows how to budget too!”
MDA’s HSS team at our end of year party in 2014
54 55
A place to call home
Supporting new arrivals to access their first Queensland
home is the ultimate way of creating welcome, providing
a secure foundation and building their capacity to become
independent and successful tenants in the Queensland
private rental market. In 2014-15, MDA’s Housing Services
team supported our clients across all of our programs,
including Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS), Status
Resolution Support Services (SRSS) and Youth Support
Services (YSS).
The team also plays its part in changing the conversation
about diversity in Queensland through its positive
engagement in the private rental and other housing
markets in the provision of housing options.
We worked in partnership with more that
100 real estate agents in the private market during
the 2014-15 financial year, creating 213 private tenancies
that housed a total of 656 new arrivals and new
independent tenancies in Queensland.
Assisting new arrivals to build up their rental track record,
along with the transfer of knowledge and skills relevant to
maintaining a tenancy in Queensland, enhances their future
rental applications, and strengthens their settlement
outcomes.
Supporting young people towards
independence
Along with our ongoing work supporting Unaccompanied
Humanitarian Minors (UHMs), MDA commenced
new work in 2014-15, providing wrap-around support
to 16 additional Unaccompanied Minors (UAM) through
Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS).
With no identified parent of relative over the age
of 21 to care for them in Australia, MDA is the
appointed custodian for these young people and
is required to provide for their welfare.
Equally importantly, though, is the work we do
nurturing the development of key life skills and
self-agency to support young people successfully
transition into adulthood. This enables successfull
settlement independence and a positive foundation
for life in Australia through orientation and the
development of important skills.
Program case managers and MDA’s Social Inclusion
team developed an intensive outreach lifeskills program
which has been delivered to UAM clients during the year.
Topics covered include goal setting, managing emotions,
setting healthy boundaries, securing/maintaining housing,
and budgeting. The program has been well received
by young people and it will be delivered to UHM clients
in the 2015-16 financial year.
MDA also hosted a range of activities for both the UAM
and UHM programs. These included a hike at the Gold
Coast hinterland; a futsal/basketball event; zine workshops;
and client participation at LUMINOUS.
A total of 34 people were supported across these
programs in the 2014-15 financial year, with some
transitioning out of the program during this time as they
turned 18 years old. In these cases, we supported their
transition into independent living.
Highlights from 2014-15 include:
Of the 24 UHM clients supported throughout
the year, 23 were engaged in ongoing education
with the remaining young person gaining full time
employment
Four young people attained academic
achievement awards
Eight young people gained or maintained casual
or full time employment
All young people in the UAM program eligible for
ongoing education have been supported to continue
their studies
One young person with significant and complex
mental health issues was supported to attend
MDA’s weekly art class. This led to them showing
their art at a Headspace exhibition and selling
several pieces.
Individuals housed
acrossprograms 656
213private rental
tenancies
Housing in HSS and SRSS
56 57
Everyone benefits when new arrivals are able
to forge genuine local connections.
As we work towards an inclusive and united multicultural
society, we know the welcome, safety and pathways
to full participation that we provide for new arrivals
can strengthen the social and economic fabric of the
entire community.
Making this happen is a two-way street for both the
new arrivals, in the effort they make to settle into the
community, and for the rest of us in the positive and
supportive welcome we give them in their new home.
We believe that a strong multicultural future depends
not only on equipping newcomers with the skills and
knowledge needed to live independently, but also
through building new bridges of understanding that
assist: communities; individuals; employers; government
agencies; schools; sector partners; and other organisations
to embrace our increasing diversity.
By having the resources, processes, skills and knowledge
required to bring the relationship to life, MDA is helping
to shape a better future for new arrivals to Queensland
and Australia.
We are proud to share our multicultural expertise through
MDA Training and our Community Education program,
where we build cultural competence, grow awareness
and knowledge, and enhance cross cultural interaction.
Building Connections We are proud to share our
multicultural expertise
OPPORTUNITIES
mda helped communities secure
$700k+in government funding
HELPING HANDS
mda has more than
200dedicated volunteers
ASSISTING
funding for more than
50community groups and
organisations in queensland
58 59
MDA’s Grants Access
Program...assisting
individuals, communities
and organisations
representing almost
50 different cultural
backgrounds
Grants Access
MDA’s Grants Access Program put multicultural
Queenslanders on the path to accessing nearly $700,000
in government and corporate funding opportunities this
year, assisting individuals, communities and organisations
representing almost 50 different cultural backgrounds.
As a state-wide program, Queensland’s regional areas
didn’t miss out on key information and expert advice;
MDA delivered workshops in Warwick, Logan, Cairns
and Rockhampton, working in collaboration with local
councils and community organisations.
To ensure communities submitted strong applications
to Multicultural Affairs Queensland’s 2014-15 Valuing
Diversity Grants Program (VDGP), MDA designed and
delivered information sessions on this funding opportunity
and undertook promotions attracting interested applicants
from Woodridge to Weipa.
MDA-assisted clients succeeded in obtaining almost
$300,000 from a possible $495,000 distributed in the
VDGP 2014-15 funding round.
Grants Access Online Portal
MDA’s Grants Access Program is now open for business
24-hours-a-day, with its new online presence helping keep
Queensland multicultural communities up-to-date with
information on relevant funding opportunities across the
entire state, with daily updates on the MDA Grants Access
portal featuring links, videos and online resources.
Leveraging MDA’s Facebook page has enabled the program
to share both opportunities and success stories with more
than 6000 users.
Grant Success for
Polynesian Dance School
Heilani Productions, a Logan Polynesian dance
school, had been previously unsuccessful in their
grant applications, despite the dance school
having a track history in staging highly acclaimed
events funded from their own back-pocket.
Founder and choreographer, Leilani,
actively participated in both the ‘Introduction
to Grant Preparation’ workshop last year, along
with a VDGP session. Following this, she
received face-to-face and virtual support to
draft an application for VDGP 2014-2015 funding.
Heilani Productions was successful in December
2014, awarded with a $3000 grant for their
dance production, ‘NATURA – A celebration
of Mother Earth’, that debuted in January 2015
at the Logan Entertainment Centre.
Heilani Productions perform ‘NATURA– A celebration of Mother Earth’
60 61
MDA’s Volunteers win Australia Day award
It’s too hard to single out one shining star from the
pool of 200 plus dedicated MDA volunteers. That’s why
we nominated them all for the fifteenth annual Griffith
Australia Day Awards!
In our work providing settlement support, the enthusiasm
and skills of MDA volunteers adds a richness and depth to
our client’s orientation to life in Queensland, by providing
local community connection and enhancing wellbeing
through social support, conversation and friendship.
MDA’s volunteers eagerly embrace newcomers,
encouraging the development and sharing of skills,
forging new friendships and linking to local communities.
This develops strong and connected communities that
enrich the lives of all Queenslanders.
Welcome Sounds
Our amazing Guitar Group volunteers are connecting
with MDA clients through the creation and enjoyment
of music. One of the primary focuses is to use music
as a forum for storytelling and participation.
“I always try to do my best for the clients, not only sharing
music knowledge and skills but also trying to connect to
emotions and recognising our commonness. I have never
asked them what they have been through in the past but
I know they tell their stories in the music each and every
session. I love that they use intuitive language through
music like I do.”
“My happiest moment in the guitar class was seeing one
the female students remove her manicured nails so she
could play guitar. I am sure she loves music very, very
much.” (MDA Volunteer)MDA Vollies at the fifteenth annual
Griffith Australia Da y Awards
Guitar Group has been a real success with
volunteers and partipants alike!
62 63
Our wonderful volunteers have
also provided support across:
SOCIAL INCLUSION
Women’s Corner
Chai Time
MDA English
No Interest Loan Scheme
(NILS) Support Pathway
Client and family picnics
WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS
English for Work
Job Club
Youth Job Club
Prepare to Participate
EVENTS
Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebrations
Tamil & Sinhalese New Year celebration
LUMINOUS Lantern Parade
WELCOMEfest
Zillmere Festival
Volunteers pave way to brighter actions
MDA’s No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) Support Pathway
provides individuals and families on a low income
access to safe, fair and affordable credit to finance
essential household items. NILS plays a vital role in the
microfinance sector for those on a low income as part
of the national Good Shepherd Microfinance network.
MDA volunteers play a key role in the weekly NILS
support pathway clinics, working directly along-side clients
to complete a NILS application to finance the purchase of
essential items needed in their homes.
Through partnership with the Bright Actions project,
who offer individualised advice through personal in home
energy assessments, NILS encourages the purchase of
energy efficient appliances to empower individuals and
families to drive down household energy consumption.
Many ways to make a difference!
Our ever powerful Family Match program supported
163 volunteer-client pairings in the last financial year.
This program continues to offer members of the
community and our clients opportunities to make
meaningful and rewarding connections with each other.
One of our volunteers shared:
“My highlight has been learning a new religion and
getting to know a different community. I find it
fascinating learning and love that I can get involved.
The family make me feel like they are proud to introduce
me to their community which makes me so happy!”
Our 200-plus active volunteers make a real difference to
our clients and the community through their involvement
in supporting clients and MDA in many diverse ways.
They are our multicultural champions!
“Without our volunteers,
creating welcome for new
Queenslanders would not be
possible” KERRIN BENSON, CEO
64 65
Shree and Bhakta of Mountain Mowing Men
An initiative of the Acacia Ridge Community
Centre (and MDA Welcome Hubs), Stitched Up
is a vibrant social enterprise grown from the very
skills of the community members that make it.
It’s a place for community members from refugee
backgrounds to build on their strengths, and engage
socially. As the business continues to grow, it also works
to provide a financial income to those with barriers to
employment. The main objective of the enterprise is
to provide a space that welcomes diversity and offers
participants an opportunity to showcase their skills and
strengths.
Born, based and bolstered at the Acacia Ridge Community
Centre, Stitched Up has also found a home-away-from-
home in the past year, setting up shop at the Brisbane
Multicultural Centre each Wednesday, where they offer
their skills and expertise through a friendly mobile service.
It’s open most days at the Acacia Ridge Community
Centre, providing a repair and remodelling service
as well as design and tailoring.
With two industrial sewing machines and an ever-changing
collection of beautiful fabrics, customers can bring their
own fabric or choose from what’s on offer. As for design,
you can bring your own or allow the team to dream
something up for you.
If you would like to get invloved with the program, contact
Acacia Ridge Community Support Inc. on 07 3277 4893.
(Welcome Hubs are local community and faith-based organisations
that join with MDA in creating welcome. Welcome Hubs offer people
opportunities to connect, contribute and belong in their local community).
Shree Monger and Bhakta Poudel both lived in
a Nepali refugee camp for more than two decades
before gaining the opportunity to resettle in Queensland
several years ago. In Bhutan, they tilled their own fields
for subsistence and profit; a calling which they say has
much in common with their new business venture,
Mountain Mowing Men, which keeps them hard
at work and outdoors in the fresh air.
Their insistence on weeding by hand and not using
pesticides or poisons is one thing they say sets their
yard maintenance business apart from others in the
Brisbane market, along with service reliability, eye
for detail, a strong work ethic, and big smiles.
The NCEC and MDA have been supporting Shree and
Bhakta to establish their business through mentoring
and skill development in areas such as profit and loss
statements, using spreadsheets and marketing.
Mountain Mowing Men is now open for business!
Contact them on mountainmowingmen@gmail.com
or 0470 376 998.
Kings of the mountain
Brisbane’s fertile soil and ever- growing lawns are
providing business and employment opportunities for
former refugees through a partnership between Nundah
Community Enterprises Co-op (NCEC) and MDA’s Social
Inclusion and Housing teams.
MDA recently began working with the NCEC to leverage
their respective skills and resources together to create
Mowing Me, Mowing You, a project that turned property
maintenance into an opportunity for refugee communities.
The project saw NCEC provide hands on training for
participants, while providing garden maintenance to
properties managed by MDA’s Housing team. Participants
were recruited through the Social Inclusion team’s
engagement with communities on the Northside, in
particular the Bhutanese community and their expressed
frustrations with finding meaningful employment.
The first graduates of the Mowing Me, Mowing You
project have now established their own garden
maintenance business.
Stitched Up!
66 67
MDA clients help Rockhampton
On the 20th February 2015, the Capricorn Coast
was hit by a category five tropical cyclone that
thankfully was downgraded to a severe category
three by the time it travelled inland to Rockhampton.
Nevertheless, several homes – including those of
MDA clients – were severely damaged.
Accustomed to floods and bush fires, the last cyclone
to directly pass over and impact Rockhampton was
nearly 40 years ago!
Despite the speed with which Tropical Cyclone
Marcia developed and the region’s inexperience with
this kind of severe weather event, MDA’s response
was solid with staff and CSWs notifying in excess
of 200 clients of warnings and emergency contact
numbers.
MDA clients rallied behind recovery efforts,
participating in a clean-up at the PCYC in
Rockhampton before backing up to help
the Yeppoon PCYC get back on its feet.
Education forum promotes bright futures
The Brisbane LAC network delivered a special education
forum this year with the goal of ensuring bright futures
for refugee and migrant youth. Working with other LAC
member organisations, MDA’s Advocacy team led on
developing the forum targeted at education professionals
from the school and vocational education sectors, along
with settlement support workers.
We wanted the forum to encourage participants to
think creatively about some of the issues encountered in
accessing education for new arrivals, such as: enrolment
challenges; language needs; transport difficulties to
intensive schools; and strategies to overcome these
difficulties. We also wanted to promote conversations
between the sectors about how to collaborate more
effectively to address challenges together.
The majority of the 100 participants in attendance
reported that the forum improved their understanding
in relation to these issues, suggesting there was
a strong need to continue the dialogue and
collaborate on a sector response.
Delivering a strong settlement sector
MDA, along with other organisations that support
refugees through the Humanitarian Settlement Services
(HSS) program enjoy strong working relationships
nurtured in Local Area Coordination (LAC) meetings.
MDA proudly coordinates quarterly LAC network
meetings in both Brisbane and the South West Queensland
regions. LAC meetings provide the opportunity for
organisations and services to come together to coordinate
settlement service provision and to share information
to assist strategic settlement decision making.
Key areas of LAC action have included:
Health: Establishing a health sub-group, bringing
together organisations relevant to health in early
settlement in the Brisbane and Central Coast
Queensland HSS contract regions
Mental Health: Providing input to the development
of an issues paper submitted to the Queensland
Mental Health Commission
Domestic violence crosses all cultures and communities
and is not a bigger issue in new and emerging communities
than the community generally. It is important to ensure all
communities benefit from efforts to prevent and respond
to DV. The SQW LAC is now working on DV related
issues to ensure prevention and response strategies
include culturally appropriate and targeted measures
for new and emerging communities
SWQ LAC is currently working on accessibility to
transport in Toowoomba, following feedback that some
new arrivals were unable to enrol their children in schools
offering intensive English education because they did not
leave nearby and with limited public transport options.
Information provides the power to move
A targeted education session delivered to members
of South East Queensland’s Bhutanese community
imparted vital knowledge about public transportation
and road licensing in Queensland, empowering them
to share their learnings with other new arrivals.
The session followed a series of community consultations
in which ‘getting around’ emerged as a top priority.
Although a high priority for many new arrivals, the need
is perhaps even greater for the Bhutanese community.
Many from the new and emerging community are now
providing settlement support themselves as family
proposers through the Department of Immigration and
Border Protection’s Special Humanitarian Program (SHP).
Fifteen clients took part in the session, which covered
topics including: purchasing a go card; how to register
a go card with TransLink; how and where to use
a go card; driver licensing; and driving law in Queensland.
The SHP received a significant quota increase in the last
year, and significant interest from Queensland families
wanting to sponsor family members to join them in
Australia. As part of the program, sponsors become the
primary settlement support provider for family members
when they receive their visas.
This year marks an important global achievement as the
100,000th refugee from Bhutan is expected to depart
refugee camps in Nepal for resettlement.
Australia has welcomed close to 5500 refugees
from Bhutan, who have settled in both regional
and metropolitan areas around Australia, and are
now making valuable contributions to this nation
and their local communities.
68 69
Rohingya settlement highlights:
Housing
Five families have bought
houses and more than
50 per cent of families
are renting on the
private market.
Money management
Not many Queenslanders
could say they have
purchased a house
with no finance.
After five short years,
several Rohingya
families already have!
Budgeting and money
management is not an
issue in this community,
demonstrated by the
community’s ability
to support private
education, purchase
cars, rent on the private
housing market and
support university
attendance for their
children.
Employment
The Rohyinga community
has proven highly
motivated around
gaining employment and
supporting their family
members financially.
They have been very
willing to fill vacancies
in industries which
have hard-to-fill roles,
including in regional
areas.
Education
MDA via the SGP
program has assisted the
Rohingya community
by linking them with
volunteer tutors
(VORTCS & MDA) to
support their aspirations
around education. Some
of the children are now
topping their grades
at school, while at least
12 young adults are
studying at university,
including Pharmacy and
Biomedical Science.
Citizenship
More than 50 people
have gained Australian
citizenship in the last
couple of years and are
now voting in local, state
and federal elections.
This has come as
a significant event to
a community who were
formerly stateless in their
own lands.
Women
Women have developed
strong community
networks through
engaging with their
local neighbourhood
centres. Supporting the
aspirations of women
in this community has
been ongoing work for
MDA’s Social Inclusion
team. Current priorities
include the development
of advanced English
language skills and
exploring employment
opportunities for stay-at-
home mums.
Youth projects
Delivered by MDA
and the Brisbane
City Council, the
Queensland Rohingya
Youth Development
Project was developed
to reduce isolation and
potential disengagement
of Rohingya youth and
has focussed on building
the leadership capacity
of young men from
within the community
to organise activities for
the wider community.
Achievements have
included an increased
sense of belonging,
engagement with
other cultural groups,
sporting tournaments
and the establishment
of a University Student
Support Group
Drivers licenses
Following an SGP
program that offered
information sessions and
practical driving support,
more than 90 people
within the community
have now obtained
a drivers license (both
men and women).
Rohingya community
living Australian dream
Home ownership is the famous Australian dream, yet one
that for many Australians is becoming increasingly difficult
to realise. This amongst many other things makes the
settlement journey of Queensland’s Rohingya community
all the more remarkable.
Late last year marked the fifth anniversary of the first
Rohingya people arriving in Queensland with many more
arriving in the weeks and months that followed.
Five years also marked the end of a very special journey
for MDA staff, particularly those who provide continuing
settlement support through our Settlement Grants
Program (SGP).
The Rohingya arrived having survived extremely difficult
circumstances, most with very limited education, and all
with the challenge of settling into a new place with no
existing family or community ties. Yet for the 161 Rohingya
families that MDA has supported until recently through
our Continuing Settlement Services program, the sky
is now the limit.
...the settlement journey
of Queensland’s Rohingya
community has been remarkable
70 71
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2014-2015_MDA_Annual_Report

  • 1. Shaping a better future for all 2014-2015 #createwelcome
  • 2. This Annual Report documents MDA’s activities, initiatives and achievements during 2014-15, and shows how we met our objectives for the year. Copies of the report can be found at www.mdaltd.org.au or by contacting MDA Communications at communications@mdaltd.org.au or phone 07 3337 5400. You are free to copy and communicate this work, so long as you attribute MDA as the author and owner of the content. MDA would like to give special thanks to Dean Holland (Take Better Photos), Muhammad Raza (Images by Raza), Dominic James Gutierrez (D’magry), Mick Porter, and various MDA staff whose images illustrate and illuminate our year in review.
  • 3. Welcome! Acknowledgements 06 Welcome by our Chair and CEO 08 Strengthening our diversity 12 Changing the conversation 22 Celebrating community 32 Enriching our future 44 Building connections 58 Our people 72 Financials and operations 80
  • 4. MDA acknowledge Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders as the first peoples of Australia, and recognises the immense cultural and linguistic diversity that has existed in these lands for tens-of-thousands of years. Upwards of 250 clans or ‘nations’ were spread across the land at the time of the First Fleet’s arrival, each with its own language and traditions finely attuned to the challenges of survival – the culmination of knowledge gained, refined and shared across generations. MDA deeply respects and values Australia’s First Nations peoples’ enormous resilience, courage, determination and often unrecognised contribution to this country’s social and economic development. Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners 06 07
  • 5. Throughout yet another challenging year of twists and turns, it remains for me an immense pleasure to chair a vibrant and dynamic for-purpose organisation where the purpose is abundantly clear. MDA exists simply to shape a better future for all Queenslanders. We remain as committed as ever to shaping a welcoming, inclusive, globally connected and economically strong Queensland community that reaps the benefits of its existing cultural diversity, along with the 36,000 people who arrive from overseas to make Queensland home each year, including skilled migrants, international students and refugees. In a networked, global economy where connectedness and prosperity go hand in hand, the very definition of successful multiculturalism as a goal is in need of some urgent rethinking. We can no longer afford to think of this simply in terms of the barriers to full participation and the supports needed to overcome these. With the dawn of the ‘Asian Century’ now well and truly upon us, our existing cultural diversity, along with the addition of new arrivals each year, is indeed the most precious of gifts. A Queensland that celebrates and embraces cultural diversity is a Queensland ready to seize the opportunities of new global connections and benefit from new prosperity. MDA is proudly leading the way in promoting this new vision, which in many respects can be distilled to the way we think and communicate. Our very future as a cohesive and prosperous Queensland depends largely on the kinds of questions we ask ourselves and each other. One of the most significant lessons we took away from our time with Neighborhood Centers Inc. in Texas last year is the power of Appreciative Inquiry as a means to sharpen and share our own vision. Unhindered by the common obsessions with ‘problems’, ‘barriers’ and ‘deficits’, we are now focussed on ‘opportunities’, ‘strengths’ and ‘contributions’, enabling us to effectively share the real impact on our community of the people we work with. It has been very rewarding this year to see this change in mindset and focus in effect. In many respects, this is a timely development. 2015 has been a year of heightened tension, with global events sadly fanning the flames of division, mistrust and hostility here in Queensland and around Australia. At the same time, our public interface with the Queensland community attracted in excess of 30,000 people to our Welcome events, drawn by their shared belief that Queensland’s cultural diversity and new arrivals are indeed a cause for celebration. A stronger capacity to communicate the impact of our work is also vital in a context of increasingly constrained public resources and mounting public expectations that not-for-profit organisations deliver more for less. The MDA Board has been pleased this year to support new strategic initiatives that, in time, will generate diverse opportunities for self-funding, thus alleviating pressure on the public purse. Through leveraging our existing cross-cultural expertise, MDA is in a unique position to strengthen Queensland’s multiculturalism through a range of consulting services that in turn will ensure MDA’s sustainability across time. from our chair The success of our three accredited training units that focus on working effectively with refugees is just the beginning of a host of new developments to come. On a personal note, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the entire MDA Board for their enthusiasm and their tireless work throughout this year. It was with sadness that we bid farewell to Board member Fraser Power as he embarks on a new chapter of life adventures. As one of MDA’s founding members and former Chair of the Board, Fraser’s contributions to the very fabric of our great organisation cannot be understated. Our thanks also to Cathy Pappalardo, who also left the Board this year after several years’ service. On the other hand, I was delighted to welcome two new additions to the Board, namely Anh Bui and Fahim Khondaker. Anh and Fahim both bring with them excellent and relevant skill-sets, strong strategic thinking capabilities and connections that will no doubt enrich MDA’s future for years to come. As always, I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation to our CEO, Kerrin Benson, to the entire Executive Team, and to all MDA staff and volunteers on yet another year of dedication and achievement in the often challenging context we find ourselves working in. Finally, it remains a source of great pride and joy for me to be part of an organisation committed to protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our global community. As I sit down to reflect on the year, I am delighted that 2015-16 will see us welcome many more vulnerable people from Syria and Iraq with the announcement of an increase to the humanitarian program. I congratulate the Government and the Opposition on their bipartisan leadership on this issue. In conclusion, I’d like to extend my sincerest respect and appreciation to all MDA’s clients. Your resilience, strength and determination to persevere is a constant source of inspiration. Sally Isles 08 10
  • 6. Ours is indeed a world where ‘no place is an island’. The space we are privileged to work in issues constant reminders of the connection between the global and the local, mediated through the complex and shifting interface of government policy, community sentiment and regional circumstances. It’s through this frame that we celebrate the culmination of some big achievements in the past financial year, as we continue to scan new horizons for the opportunities of tomorrow. Around three years ago now, MDA embarked on its largest scale-up to date, when the Australian Government moved from processing asylum seekers’ claims for protection in detention centres to a new arrangement allowing people to live in the community on bridging visas while their claims are processed. Our earlier experiences had clearly highlighted the devastating mental health impacts for people who had endured lengthy periods in immigration detention. We’ve been immensely proud, therefore, to support a model based on community determination that has afforded new hope and dignity to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Although faced with continuing uncertainty, the new arrangement has allowed asylum seekers to live within the Queensland community and fulfil the fundamental human desire to be a productive part of the society they live in. As we expected, many of our clients seized this opportunity with both hands, volunteering with a host of Queensland charities and not-for-profits where they have left an indelible mark. The tides have turned once more, with the Australian Government recommencing the assessment of asylum seekers’ protection claims, in turn opening opportunities for longer-term settlement stability and, importantly, real employment through the reintroduction of work rights. The real work experience and job readiness that asylum seekers have gained through their volunteering contributions have left them amply prepared to engage employment opportunities in the Queensland labour market, and in this respect we celebrate a job well done. We also celebrate these very people, who are now making wonderful contributions to the Queensland community under trying circumstances. In another way, these latest developments signal the gradual winding down of work that has come to define us the past few years. I would like to extend my profound gratitude to all our wonderful staff who have walked alongside our clients during some of their most challenging and uncertain days. On a different note, we’ve witnessed this year an unrivalled polarisation of broad public sentiment towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, with Queensland’s Muslim communities a particular target of vilification, abuse and scapegoating in the wake of international events. from our ceo Kerrin Benson However, just as we’ve witnessed the ascent of disturbing new hyper-nationalist movements and sentiments in the past twelve months, we’ve seen increasing numbers of everyday Queenslanders setting out to create a different vision. I’m immensely proud of the sector leadership we have been able to cement amidst this turbulence, particularly through our mainstream media engagement, communications campaigns, systemic advocacy and the delivery of unifying public events that attracted record numbers this year. Our work in this space is providing the very platform for a new narrative about multiculturalism in Queensland to take shape. Slowly but surely, we are helping to change the conversation and sharing opportunities with increasing numbers of Queenslanders to keep creating welcome to contribute to a better future for all. I would like to extend my profound gratitude to all our wonderful staff who have walked alongside our clients Finally, the MDA community mourned the sudden passing of our beloved friend and colleague, Ra Rangiawha, in November. Along with his infectious laugh and enormous heart, we were truly blessed that he shared with us so freely his calm wisdom and genuine friendship. One of Ra’s lasting gifts to us was his profound belief in people’s capacity for greatness and the importance of supportive community. He will live in our hearts always. 10 11
  • 7. strengthening our diversity In promoting the positive benefits of migration and multiculturalism, MDA seeks to cast the net wider, expanding the collective sense of ‘We’, through a re-defining of ‘Us’. We achieve this through: uniting out state’s leadership; linking new arrivals and longer term community members through our volunteer program, particularly Family Match; sharing stories in mainstream media; creating opportunities for communities to come together; systemic advocacy addressing barriers to equal opportunity and social inclusion; empowering individuals to lead productive lives in Australia; and promoting greater public recognition of the gifts our cultural diversity brings to Queensland. After all, we as Queenslanders may not share a history, but we do share a prosperous and vibrant future. Multiculturalism is no longer an aspiration or goal. With now more than 25 per cent of Aussies born overseas, multiculturalism is the reality of our rich community tapestry. Promoting social cohesion is work that we are immensely proud to do at MDA. Just as division thrives where we allow ourselves to live separately from one another, it retreats wherever and whenever we come together. Celebrating Queensland’s cultural diversity is among MDA’s most core values, and the importance of positive community relations extends far beyond our belief in the good of social cohesion for its own sake. At MDA we know that Australia’s multiculturalism is a source of strength and opportunity and that our new arrivals are a resource that will add enormous value to our future. QUEENSLAND aglobal,networked economy where nearly 150,000people come to study, work & play each year READY to benefit from the skillsmigrants bringtoQld EDUCATION our State’s most valuable export commodity, with 86,000 choosing to study here international students 12 13
  • 8. There is significant power in the pledges made by individuals as part of the campaign The power of the pledge Everyday people can help eliminate racism in our community by calling it out when they see it. It goes without saying that racism has no place at MDA. We have been proud partners of the Australian Human Rights Commision’s RACISM. IT STOPS WITH ME campaign because we embody the very diversity that defines Queensland and Australia, and the campaign message resonates with all of us in our professional and personal lives. MDA strives to create a welcoming, inclusive and socially cohesive community for all and the campaign allows us to continue to have conversations about racism and give individuals the power to stand against it. Thousands of people have been exposed to and engaged with the campaign through MDA’s work: • Since inception, we have recorded well over 800 pledges against racism • We publicise all our campaign activity on social media, to increase its reach. During the second half of 2014, twelve facebook posts about the campaign were viewed by nearly 40,000 people • We created promotional videos around the campaign that were showcased during the 2014 AFL Multicultural Round. There is significant power in the pledges made by individuals as part of the campaign. It empowers people to critically think about how they will take a personal stance against racist behaviour. Since the beginning of time, the power of a simple pledge has been one of the most enduring forces for action to publically state our stance on social issues. Of those who engaged in the campaign by making a pledge in the last year: • 90 per cent were more confident to take action against racism • Nearly 80 per cent began conversations with friends or family about racism • 42 per cent had challenged a racist comment. Among our staff who have participated in the campaign: • 45 per cent had talked to a client about racism • 48 per cent had helped a client understand their rights • Around 20 per cent had helped a client take action on racism. MDA has engaged high profile recruits through the campaign, including AFL stars, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, local councillors and politicians, Queensland’s former and current Police Commissioners, members of the Iraqi soccer team (in Australia for the Asian Cup), author Tom Keneally, and Bernard Fanning of Powderfinger fame. Others have seen our work and approached us to find out more about getting involved in the campaign, including the Logan Metro Football Club. We have helped schools and youth networks with information and activities to help students and young people to engage with the campaign. 14 15
  • 9. Asian Cup event unites Queensland’s Iraqi communities Celebrations erupted from coast-to-coast in January when the sound of the final whistle delivered the Socceroos’ most emphatic victory to date. However, behind the scenes, a celebration of a different kind helped unite Queensland’s Iraqi community in recognition of their similarities and differences. Organised as part of the Asian Cup 2015 Communities Program, MDA was proud to support the Iraqi Unity Association of Queensland (IUAQ) in delivering the Iraqi Community Fun Day in January. The day sought to bring together community groups to share and experience diverse cultural values, customs and traditions, as well as engage in activities and programs that aimed to develop mutual understanding, respect and integration. Ongoing sectarian conflict in Iraq along with local media events had caused its tensions in the Queensland Iraqi community which is comprised of people from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural groups. The day brought together this diversity in celebration of their differences and in recognition of the many qualities they share. On top of this, the event doubled-up as a welcome party for the Iraq national football team! They touched down in Brisbane ahead of their rampaging tournament run, cut- short in the penultimate round by competition runner-up, South Korea. The Race Discrimination Commissioner visits the BMC (twice!) Hearing Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane speak in person is about as close to the definition of pure inspiration as you can imagine. In late 2014, MDA was privileged to have the Commissioner drop in to a staff day. For the occasion, we launched a film we had produced of conversations with individuals about the impacts of racism and what we can all do to change it. In celebration of the success of the RACISM. IT STOPS WITH ME campaign over the last three years, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) staged a series of events around Australia to thank existing supporters and their efforts, and also to inspire new supporters. We were delighted when they approached MDA to showcase our work as a supporter with the goal of inspiring others to join the campaign, and also asked if MDA could host the event at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre (BMC). Dr Soutphommasane visited Brisbane to host the supporters event, with about 20 guests from different organisations attending. Guests heard from the Commissioner, followed by MDA about our experience with the campaign; Multicultural Affairs Queensland representatives also spoke about the campaign within their department in Queensland Government and the impact of racism in Queensland. Since the event, several of the organisations who attended have approached MDA for more information about campaign activities with a view to signing up as supporters or holding their own anti-racism activities and events. The Queensland African Communities Council took the opportunity to sign up to the campaign on the night in the presence of the Commissioner. Additionally, MDA took the opportunity to invite the Commissioner to meet with Community Leaders who were holding their regular gathering that evening. Racism and race discrimination is, unfortunately, part of the experience of many newcomers to Brisbane. Leaders were keen to share their experiences with the Commissioner and learn from him what could be done to stop racism and make our community more harmonious. The AHRC was in the process of holding a series of consultations for the 40th anniversary of the Race Discrimination Act, and the information that leaders provided was valuable for the Commissioner to contribute to this important work. Elijah Buol from the Queensland African Communities Council signing-up to the campaign with Dr Tim Soutphommasane Iraqi Community Fun Day celebrations 16 17
  • 10. Providing platform for united community leadership Building a strong and socially cohesive Queensland is about creating spaces and opportunities for our state’s diverse communities to build connections. MDA is proud to facilitate connections and collaboration of leaders and members of new and emerging communities through our support of the Community Leaders’ Gathering (CLG). Meeting monthly at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre, leaders and representatives provide each other peer support and learning that benefits the settlement of their community members as well as creating a forum to collate shared experiences in a way that enables them to provide key advice to government agencies. A key part of MDA’s Community Engagement work is maintaining ongoing relationships with community leaders, elders, youth representatives and members who are the ultimate experts on their respective communities’ experiences, challenges and aspirations. Support for the CLG stems from MDA’s deep respect for the role community leaders and elders play in the settlement of members of their communities. From our vantage point, they are perhaps Queensland’s most influential and tireless community builders, and without a doubt the most unsung. In addition to offering a meeting space, MDA also provides the secretariat and other material support to these monthly meetings which attract on average 10 -15 community leaders per month. Highlights for 2014-15 include: The breadth of skills and experience among new arrivals will benefit us all A Community Skills Audit undertaken by new and emerging migrant and refugee communities in Brisbane provided a much needed evidence base about work skills, qualifications, experience and aspirations. The survey results provide a useful snapshot of: • the wide breadth of education levels and skills in newly arrived communities; • a broad range of work and career aspirations, spanning many industries, training and skill levels; and • a willingness of new arrivals to engage in further learning, to work outside their preferred occupation and even to volunteer, in order to achieve their career goals. The opportunity to gather, connect and celebrate in Brisbane’s beautiful parklands MDA consulted leaders about a Brisbane City Council (BCC) proposal to introduce fees and booking processes for large gatherings in Brisbane’s public parks. Many community groups regularly use parks for community gatherings and felt the fees and complex application processes would create a barrier for them. The communities’ concerns were included in a submission to the BCC and we are pleased to see that final amendments made to park use regulations did not require complex application processes or fees for large gatherings (except for special uses such as adventure sports, using marquees etc.). Community leaders, elders, and members are the ultimate experts on their communities 18 19
  • 11. Queensland Community Alliance It’s a tradition that has given rise to some of the globe’s greatest political minds, including US President, Barack Obama. Community organising aims to rebuild and strengthen civil society, in turn providing communities with a strong collective voice around matters of importance. Now in its second year, the Queensland Community Alliance is a non-partisan alliance of churches, mosques and other faith groups coming together with charities, unions, community organisations and ethnic associations to work together for the common good. Through a process of listening to stories of pressures that members face and witness, it decides on issues for community action, to seek change for the better. As one of the Alliance’s founding members, MDA was proud to provide significant support to the Alliance’s 2014 Assembly, held at Inala’s St Mark’s Catholic Primary School and attracting more than 460 people from 17 union, faith and community organisations. The three co-chairs for the event, representing faith, union and community, included MDA’s Mitra Khakbaz as community chair. The assembly heard personal stories of discrimination, and experiences of hope through action. Mitra’s heartfelt tale of her personal motivation for her work and for supporting the alliance included sharing the inspiring example of her mother’s strength through incredible adversity, and her own migrant journey–it was responsible for more than a few misty eyes throughout the room. We were excited to see so many of our new communities taking an active interest in the Alliance by attending the assembly, including the more established Ethiopian community and new arrivals from Brisbane’s Somali community. With limited English language, these new arrivals made connections and found commonalities with others who came from different unions or faith organisations. For more information about the Alliance, go to www.qldcommunityalliance.org MDA was proud to provide significant support to the Alliance’s 2014 Assembly A full house at the Queensland CommunityAlliance assembly in Inala The double life of the Brisbane multicultural centre Bustling Brisbane headquarters for MDA and QPASTT by day, and thriving community centre by night. The Brisbane Multicultural Centre (BMC) is a low-cost, safe and supportive environment for multicultural communities to meet, create and interact. The BMC’s doors are wide open for AGMs, training sessions, workshops, expos, cultural celebrations, music and dance rehearsals, book clubs, and karate classes. The BMC’s five-to-nine life accounted for more than 17 extra productive working weeks in the 2014-15 period, to the direct benefit of almost 5000 Queenslanders. The centre has evolved into a fantastic diversity incubator, providing a place where people from various communities can connect, grow, and learn together. Just four kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD, the BMC at Woolloongabba is an ideal location for meetings, events, workshops, training programs, community celebrations, and many more. There are six community spaces that can house between 10 to 150 people. The spaces are available for use seven days a week between 9am-10pm. Phone 07 3337 5400 to find out more. Nowruz celebrations at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre in March 2015 2014-15 BMC Overview Who accessed the BMC in 2014-15 Afghan Tertiary Students of Queensland African Australian Women’s Association Ahwazi Community ASCOF Auscongo Network Australian Oromo Community Australian Society of Graduate Tamils Burundian Community Community Service (Liberia) Congolese Community association of Queensland Eritrean Community Association in Queensland Ethiopian Association of Queensland Iranian Society of Queensland Iraqi Unity Association of Queensland Liberian United women of Queensland Newroz - Kurdish Committee Nigerian Community Ndaegbomei Social Club Queensland Rohingya Community ORIOZ Community Rwandan Association of Queensland Sierra Leone Community South Sudanese Community MDA Diversity Choir Bicultural support service Women Leadership Support Group MDA English Classes Healthy Start Session Lawn Mowing Training MDA Volunteers Nowruz Celebration Youth Settment Support MDA Citizenship Test Support MDA/Australian Human Rights Commission Mindfullness Training Diaspora Rehearsal Community Leaders Consultation Kurdish/Persian Music Rehearsal Welcomefest Food Handling Training MDA/ QPASTT Community Leaders Function QPASST AGM M-YES ECCQ - Leadership Training & Graduation Ceremony Mater Hospital People Power Service Colombian Consulate Judiane Body Corporate Digi Youth Arts Griffith University Nuer Community accessed by Almost 5000people in 2014-15 mainly from a diverseor refugee background from more than 21communities 20 21
  • 12. In order to reframe the narrative around migrants, refugees and asylum seekers we strive to develop meaning and purpose through sharing the stories of the communities we work with, developing shared understanding and opening up new dialogue based on fact and lived experience. The power of the media is so dominant, it can sometimes eliminate space to introduce new perspectives. Changing the conversation is about broadening the public space for positive messaging so that it includes face to face engagement and digital platforms and exchange. Central to MDA’s vision and purpose is to #ChangeTheConversation by increasing awareness and understanding of the benefits of a diverse community and to build a culture of welcome in Queensland. We work towards this goal by identifying stories from our diverse cultural communities and working collaboratively with mainstream media agencies and through our own media channels to bring them to life. At other times, the goal is to bring counterpoints and balance to the debate about multiculturalism in Australia when the news cycle takes a negative turn. However, #ChangeTheConversation does not only represent our own media and communications objectives. It is a call to action to all Queenslanders and others from further afield to play their part in shifting the narrative around multiculturalism in Australia to one that not only embraces our diversity, but recognises diversity as our greatest strength. MDA’s mainstream media engagement, along with social media and self-publishing platforms are contributing to the diversity of media content in a way that helps promote understanding and celebration of the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity of the Australian population. changing the conversation A central part of MDA’s vision and purpose remains to #ChangeTheConversation SOCIAL MEDIA reached more than 1.4munique users on facebook CONNECTING with more than 800kpeople through MDA’s website TELLING STORIES more than 30unique videos made in-house 22 23
  • 13. MDA ran regular concerted campaigns through Facebook that addressed particular themes and days of observance. Our Father’s and Mother’s Day campaigns were particularly poignant, highlighting the immense universality of the human condition that is lived through these life giving roles. #WhiteRibbonDay is another event that MDA continues to rally behind each year as a call to action of universal importance that cuts across every culture in our community. We engaged several White Ribbon Ambassadors around recording video messages in the lead up to White Ribbon Day in November, in turn publicised through our social media channels. Queensland Police Commissioner, Ian Stewart (pictured above) was one who participated in our campaign, with his video generating more than 115,000 views. social media, what is it good for? With the world’s networked population now in the billions, social media has become one of the prime shaping forces for collective action. It builds a community of engaged and informed supporters as we can attest with a milestone of 6000 followers in June. As well as putting the spotlight on the success stories that characterise our diversity, social media continued to play a critical role in mobilising the Queensland community around our signature events. The exposure generated through our social media channels meant that more than 30,000 people attended LUMINOUS and WELCOMEfest this year, creating welcome in a big way and ensuring that our sponsors, who make these events possible, reaped positive returns for their investment dollars. The latter months of 2014 were sadly tainted with a surge in incidences of abuse targeted at members of Queensland’s Muslim communities in the wake of widely televised news events at home and abroad. Following the tremendous impact of the now renowned #IllRideWithYou hashtag, we were proud to support Queensland’s Muslim communities through sharing the message that the views and actions of extremists do not represent them, nor do they represent true Islam. Many members from MDA’s staff produced their own messages around the #NotInMyName hashtag, generating thousands of likes, shares and comments of solidarity. LUMINOUS Facebook posts from MDA’s offical page LEFT: Live posts from the event, showcasing the public’s interaction by posting images of them involved with the celebration BELOW:A sponsor post from MDA acknowledging our special partners for the event LUMINOUS saw the unvieling of ‘Get social with MDA’ - a place where the public are invited to take photos with messages of welcome and share on social media to help change the conversation Iman and Damian from the MDA Media and Communications team picured with the award at the 2014 Premier’s Queensland Cultural Diversity Awards. Premier’s Award MDA’s Media and Communications team was proud to receive public recognition for its work in August 2014, winning the Premier’s Queensland Cultural Diversity Award in the Media and Communications category during Queensland Cultural Diversity Week! 8,742 people joined the LUMINOUS Facebook event page 845,165 - total campaign reach (how many times LUMINOUS appeared in peoples newsfeeds) 13,971 - total engagements (likes, shares, comments) 41,971 - total post clicks LUMINOUS social media highlights 24 25
  • 14. • Two video stories celebrating Tết Nguyên Đán (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) • An Australian story on the Vietnamese name, Nguyen, which is on track to become Australia’s most common name • Queensland Police Service reaffirming its stance against racial and religious vilification • Video story marking Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebrations in Brisbane • Harmony Day celebrations at Richlands East State School, one of the most culturally diverse primary schools in Brisbane • The story of former ‘Lost Boys’, war orphans from South Sudan, who have since established themselves in Queensland • A story on local initiatives working to create cohesive, diverse neighbourhoods (marking Neighbour Day celebrations). Change The Conversation – The MDA Blog In late 2014 we were proud to establish Change the Conversation - the MDA blog. Stories published in the 2014-15 financial year included: • The positive impacts of MDA clients volunteering with the Asthma Foundation • Queensland’s Maori communities and their relationship to Waitangi Day • The importance of multicultural radio broadcasting in strengthening Queensland’s diversity (marking UNESCO’s World Radio Day) • The capacity for stand-up comedians to act as agents for social change by helping shift the narrative about multiculturalism in Australia (marking the Brisbane Comedy Festival) • Queenslanders involved in programs aimed at preserving language and cultural identity (marking International Mother Language Day) Volunteering with the Asthma Foundation Harmon y Da y celebrations at Richlands East State School Multicultural radio broadcasting Celebrating VietnameseLunar New Year The Good Lie Charity Screening for Harmony Da y MDA and BEMAC celebrated Harmony Day in March with a charity movie screening of the acclaimed movie, The Good Lie, staring Reese Witherspoon and recounting the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The event raised funds for MDA’s Donate a Ride campaign, assisting new arrivals build essential connections through helping meet the costs of public transport. ‘Lost Boys’ refers to the 26,000 war orphans – mostly boys – who fled Sudan on foot; first to neighboring Ethiopia in 1987 and then to Kenya when Ethiopia’s Marxist government was overthrown in 1991. The film follows the emotionally charged journey of three Sudanese refugees as they build a new life in America following 13 years spent in a Kenyan refugee camp. Queenslander and former Lost Boy, Peter Madit, shares a similar story of survival, before he gained the opportunity to resettle in Brisbane in 2002. Not long after arriving in Brisbane, Peter secured a paid work experience opportunity with Anglicare’s Brisbane headquarters where he sparked up a new friendship with now retired Anglican Priest, John Arnold. In 2004, John helped Peter establish SALBAGO (the Sudanese Australian Lost Boys and Girls Organisation); set up to share mutual support within the newly arrived diaspora. Around 100 Lost Boys were active members at its peak. Story telling and documentation was another objective of SALBAGO, run off an oil rag in a Newmarket office space lent by a generous university professor. A successful scholar with many letters to his name, Peter has already been accepted into Swinburne University’s MBA program which he looks forward to commencing next year. Earlier on, Peter established one of the first African retail outlets in Moorooka, initiating the African reinvention of the suburb’s commercial strip – now one of Brisbane’s most vibrant and unique cultural hubs. Now married with two young children, the 32 year-old is writing a book about his incredible story – The Journey Not Yet Finished. Peter is undeniably proud of the resilience he shares with fellow former Lost Boys, and hopes his story will inspire his own children towards big ambitions. Lost Boy, Peter Madit 26 27
  • 15. New focus on former refugees Their faces reveal stories of tradition, determination, hope and the adventure of starting life anew. A unique, touring photographic exhibition put a new frame around migrant journeys earlier this year, offering the community a glimpse into the world of everyday people with extraordinary stories, told through the lens. Celebrating Queensland’s new arrivals, Focus on Welcome 2015 featured a collection of 30 stunning images, each with its own story that connects the past and present, as new arrivals set about establishing a life in Australia. The event was launched in Queen Street Mall (Brisbane CBD) before making appearances at both LUMINOUS and WELCOMEfest, and then hitting the road to Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Dalby and the Zillmere Festival. Curated and presented by MDA, Focus on Welcome offered a vivid portal into new and emerging cultural communities in Queensland, and their contributions to every facet of community life. Key moments in the lives of Queensland’s new arrivals were also captured in the exhibition, including walking up the front stairs to their new home; being welcomed on the first day of their new job; and watching their children make new friends at the local park. For each and every one of us, our culture is fundamental to who we are and for our state’s newest arrivals, being able to share their culture through dress, food, music and dance is a large part of feeling valued and welcomed by their new communities. The power of photography in enabling the sharing of culture is the impact of the frame itself. Photographs provide the kind of distance between ourselves and the subject matter that often allows us to see things in a new light. Several talented photographers were behind the stunning images on display in the exhibition, including long-term MDA photographer Dean Holland, MDA staff photographer Muhammad Raza, MDA staff member Behice Bagdas, along with Essi Dashtar and Mana Salsali, winners of last year’s Lens on LUMINOUS photographic competition. Focus on Welcome offered a vivid portal into new and emerging cultural communities in Queensland 28 29
  • 16. Ten simple actions to change the conversation! #bepartofthechange Know your own history! We are all part of the diversity that surrounds us. Know and be proud of your story, and share your own experiences with others across generations. Experience something new Invite friends from cultural backgrounds different from your own to experience the joy of your traditions and customs, and find joy in theirs! Mind your Ps and Qs The language we use really matters. Avoid the use of broad or stereotypical remarks, and challenge those made by others. Speak out against racism when you see it. Know the facts... ...on multiculturalism and diversity in Queensland, including our First Nations history. Provide accurate information when you encounter harmful myths or stereotypes. Discuss with others around you the impacts of prejudicial attitudes and behaviour. Get out and about! Plan outings to different cultural attractions in your local area, and invite friends and family to come with you! This could include diverse retail precincts, cultural events, restaurants or exhibits at galleries or museums. Start young At your children’s school, start a multicultural group to promote harmony and respect for differences. Encourage teaching staff to make cultural differences and prejudice a part of classroom discussions and assessment. In the workplace Encourage your workplace to adopt respect for diversity as one of its core values, including awareness and respect for different workstyles. Share your lunch! Learn about your co-workers’ cultural backgrounds and share your own. Make this a topic for the lunch room or swap lunchtime recipes! In your place of worship Encourage your leaders to celebrate diversity and condemn all forms of bigotry. Encourage friends of other faiths to visit your religious services and share your religion with them. Ask them to return the invitation in kind! Speak up! Support those affected by racial or religious discrimination to speak up! For many, this is a formidable task, but agencies like the Anti Discrimination Commission Queensland are always there to help. 30 31
  • 17. MDA’s signature events are designed to encourage the participation of the whole community in celebrating and valuing our cultural diversity. They offer a unique snapshot of a our collective identity, providing an opportunity to showcase cultural practice and tradition, strengthen intercultural dialogue and promote a deeper understanding through a shared positive experience. With the help of committed partners we make a significant investment to Brisbane’s creative economy by delivering unique and signature celebrations that provide a one of a kind experience for participants and that contribute to increased social capital. LUMINOUS and WELCOMEfest (formerly the World Refugee Day Community Festival) attracted over 30,000 people this year, uniting the Queensland community in public and spectacular expressions of welcome to all newcomers to our state. Both events have become key focus points for mainstream media engagement, raising further awareness of the contribution of diverse cultures to the Queensland community, while highlighting the groundswell of public support for multiculturalism in Queensland. MDA was also proud to support many more localised community events this past year that place the spotlight firmly on our diversity and the blessings it brings. celebrating community APPRECIATION 95%say that attending events enhanced their appreciation for Queensland’s cultural diversity MEDIA unique enquiries to our communications team in 2014-15, nearly 200 ENGAGING 100+community groups, schools, businesses and organisations taking part at luminous lantern parade of MDA event attendees 32 33
  • 18. Sharing white elephants! MDA delivered two White Elephant Day events in 2014-15, harnessing community goodwill through the donation of pre-loved second hand items. We are inspired each time by new examples of everyday Queenslanders rallying their friends and communities to help bring much needed material support to newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers in our community. Through his involvement in the New Farm and Districts Historical Society and a local church, Phil Evans has helped muster the goodwill of others around a variety of causes including one of the events from 2014-15. “Every year the New Farm and Districts Historical Society has an empty Christmas tree at their last meeting of the year and they ask people to bring along donations. We then choose together what we consider to be a worthy recipient each year for the gifts…this year I suggested that we do it for MDA for White Elephant Day. Everyone agreed, so that’s how it all came about,” Phil said. Even the surge of yet another torrential downpour on the day did not deter Phil from delivering the items to MDA, which included an assortment of toiletries along with an additional cash donation which MDA applied to purchasing similar items to fill hampers for newly arrived people. MDA’s Sinhalese and Tamil New Year Celebrations 2015 MDA held its third annual Sinhalese and Tamil New Year celebration in April 2014, bringing together both communities for a night of food, music, dance and laughter to ring in the New Year. It was a truly collaborative event, coordinated by MDA and amply supported by the Tamil and Sinhalese community associations who work diligently to promote the well-being of their respective communities. This cooperative approach ensured that elements from both cultural communities were equally represented. Both Sinhalese and Tamil community leaders and members came together to celebrate the New Year, with more than 150 people in attendance. The performances showcased the incredible creative talent that exists amongst their communities. MDA’s wonderful volunteers and many members of the broader Australian community shared in a fantastic night of celebrations alongside our Sri Lankan friends. A young girl performing at the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year celebrations Lansana Camara from Guinea pla ysthe kora at Zillmere Festival Colourful dancers light up the stage at Zillmere Festival Around 1500 people hit the streets of Zillmere in September 2014 for the Zest! Festival Market Day, capping off a fantastic week of celebrations. The Zillmere Festival featured a weeklong program of events and activities showcasing Zillmere’s rich cultural diversity, but the final instalment was always destined to steal the show, with a daylong street party of energetic live entertainment, cultural foods, crafts, and children’s activities drawing large numbers of festival goers from the local area and further afield. The crowd was a direct reflection of the diversity for which Zillmere has become well known, with a broad cross-section of people of different ages and backgrounds soaking up the sights and sounds in an endless procession of leisurely enjoyment. The Market Day not only highlighted the cultures and talents of more recent migrant groups, but also the area’s first people, with Kurbingui Youth Development Association working with Jabiru Community Youth and Children’s Services to deliver a fantastic Indigenous program as part of the celebrations. The event organisers were supported throughout the day by an enthusiastic and dedicated team of volunteers from the Queensland University of Technology, who applied their energies to a wide range of logistical tasks, and made a significant contribution to the success of the day. Entertainment highlights included a wonderful kora (African harp) performance by Lansana Camara from Guinea, and beautiful music and dance courtesy of the Murray Island Dancers. The Zest! Festival Market Day was proudly hosted by Jabiru Community Youth and Children’s Services, with support from MDA, Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government as part of Queensland Cultural Diversity Week celebrations. 34 35
  • 19. LUMINOUS lights up Brisbane! One of our most humbling hours dawned on 5 June this year when an estimated 15,000 people gathered at South Bank Parklands for the eighth annual LUMINOUS Lantern Parade Welcoming new Queenslanders. We have consciously repositioned the event in recent years from a vigil acknowledging the plight of refugees worldwide towards the theme of welcoming all newcomers to the state; a move that has been celebrated by former refugees and their communities as it recognises their established identity as Queenslanders rather than the label of an earlier life experience that many have moved far beyond. The fact that attendance from former refugees and their communities remained strong supported this case. As per recent years, we were also inspired by the increasing diversity of the crowd, uniting our state’s leadership along with people representing virtually every culture, nationality and life journey that comprises Brisbane. There were some new additions to the more established line-up of lanterns this year, supplied as usual by the brilliant team at Light’n Up Inc., Lismore. Arguably the most famous and loved Australian comedic export was amongst them. Dame Edna Everage, the Queen of Moonee Ponds and stages worldwide, took her place in lantern form amongst the dozens of other exotic and native animals, celestial shapes and other characters. A special cultural program aimed at school children was another new addition to the proram this year. Happening at South Bank Parklands in the hours leading up to the big event, Little LUMINOUS engaged pupils from schools spanning greater Brisbane in a fun series of interactive workshops centred on different cultural traditions and skills, including mandala making, Bollywood dance, African drumming, Indigenous dance, lantern making and more. Part of Queensland Week celebrations, MDA’s LUMINOUS Lantern Parade was proudly presented in partnership with our welcome partners, TAFE Queensland English Language and Literacy Services, Dealer Solutions, Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council, Westpac, Anti Discrimination Commission Queensland, Australia for UNHCR and LightnUp Inc. Staff from TAFE Queensland creating welcome at LUMINOUS Young and old sharing in the spirit of humanity at LUMINOUS Little LUMINOUS was a hit with the kids that took part Dame Edna Everage making an apearance at LUMINOUS! Image courtesy of Mick Porter 36 37
  • 20. Toowoomba and Rockhampton Walk Together Toowoomba and Rockhampton put their best feet forward in October, taking part in the annual Walk Together event, coordinated by Welcome to Australia. In recent years, Walk Together has united more than 10,000 people in cities across the nation, in a visible display of the recognition that although we’ve all arrived here via different pathways, we share a common Australian journey. For a third year running, MDA took part in the campaign, inviting the Australian community to again Walk Together in recognition that we’ve all walked different paths to form part of the Australian story. Rockhampton residents spread Christmas cheer The generosity of staff, pupils and their families at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Rockhampton shared the joy of Christmas with refugee children, with around 40 individual gifts donated through a special drive. Children received gifts based on their likes and interests with the aim of developing self-esteem. The donated presents were greatly appreciated by the children, and those donating said they enjoyed selecting gifts with their own children and highlighting the importance of the spirit of giving at Christmas time. A little bit of TLC in Toowoomba Toowoomba celebrated during 2014 Cultural Diversity Week with the ninth annual Toowoomba Languages and Cultures (TLC) Festival in August, coordinated by the Toowoomba International Multicultural Society (TIMS) with support from MDA, the Toowoomba Regional Council and Multicultural Affairs Queensland. TLC showcased hundreds of craft and food stalls, performers and cultural workshops, celebrating the vibrant cultural diversity of the Darling Downs. MDA was especially excited to support the ‘Gathering of Women’, a social enterprise formed by many of the Afghan women who have recently settled in the region, as they marketed their stunning array of home-made crafts and foods. On the day, they became the focus of a sensational SBS news piece that was widely shared through social media. Afghan women at TLC showcasing their home-made crafts Getting read y to Walk Together in Rockhampton! Toowoomba gearing up to Walk Together in 2014 38 39
  • 21. Searching for a life that matters A special project was undertaken this year to raise awareness of mental health stigma within the Tamil, Hazara and Rohingyan communities in Rockhampton through a series of participatory workshops. Funded through Partners in Recovery (Rockhampton), the Culture Compass program was supported by MDA and Culture in Mind. Culture in Mind delivered mental health training targeting local cultural support workers, highlighting the ways that cultural beliefs and values may shape how people perceive and experience stigma associated with mental health, and how these perceptions and experiences can vary from culture to culture. The Culture Compass workshop program invited MDA clients to explore their past, present and future, reworking personal narratives held in relation to their life journeys, in turn highlighting the various strengths that have carried them through their earlier difficult experiences. This process was supported through expressive outlets, including written work, visual art and music. All artworks produced were accompanied by stories from clients describing how they were overcoming life’s challenges in symbolic terms – especially those surrounding their extremely traumatic history and circumstances as refugees. Artworks produced in the workshops were also exhibited, along with performances, music, food and entertainment at Culture Compass, a concert and awards presentation at the end of May. The discovery and encouragement of a couple of talented singers amongst the workshop attendees by workshop musician Cieavash Arean was a joyful bonus! From a mental health point-of-view, the program was designed to help our clients recognise stigma around mental health – both in their native cultural context as well as in their current environment in Australia. From a cultural point of view it was designed as an appreciative inquiry exercise to rejuvenate a sense of creativity and explore ways of overcoming difficulty through creative expression. This constitutes a new and innovative approach to work around mental illness and the settlement of refugees – especially in its use of appreciative inquiry and use of the Culture Compass as a means to identify cultural influences on the individual and how the process can be used to inspire creativity and consolidate a sense of self despite challenging life circumstances. Thousands celebrate WELCOMEfest More than 17,000 people attended WELCOMEfest – formerly World Refugee Day Community Festival – in June 2015, renamed to highlight Brisbane’s history of welcoming newly arrived refugees and embracing them into the community. The eighth annual festival marked Refugee Week 2015 by bringing together Brisbane’s diverse communities to promote understanding, harmony and respect for refugees. Held at the Annerley Soccer Club Fields in Greenslopes, WELCOMEfest opened with around 50 former refugees becoming new Australians in a citizenship ceremony that has become a hallmark of the annual event. The event had a great music and dance program showcasing community groups and individual artists from all over the world that now call Brisbane home. WELCOMEfest 2015 was about promoting the message that refugees and migrants are welcome in Australia, offering the opportunity for people to experience the contributions that former refugees are making to our cultural, creative, sporting, economic and civic fabric in Queensland. The football finals were a big drawcard for many. The qualifying rounds offered the opportunity to spread the raw talent and excitement to new grounds, with St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace generously playing host at their state-of-the-art complex in Tennyson. Our gratitude and thanks goes to the staff, students and parents of St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace. Believed to be the largest refugee celebration in Australia, the festival was part of World Refugee Week 2015 celebrations and presented by MDA and Brisbane City Council, with support from Football Queensland and the Queensland Government. 40 41
  • 22. Only days out from its 75th birthday celebrations, Brisbane’s most iconic landmark was lit up in the WELCOMEfest colours red, yellow and blue in an incandescent celebration of Queensland’s rich cultural diversity. The spectacle came as the curtain raiser to MDA’s WELCOMEfest, in celebration of Queensland’s refugee communities. The festival offered revellers the chance to tour the world in a single day, with delectable delights from the proverbial four corners along with a jam packed, day long program of energetic live entertainment. The heritage listed Story Bridge houses a fascinating chapter of Queensland’s migration history. Yungaba House, situated directly beneath the bridge in Kangaroo Point, served as the reception and orientation point for countless new arrivals to Queensland for more than a century. Nowadays the same precinct is home to the Queensland Multicultural Centre and Radio 4EB, Brisbane’s multilingual community radio service. Story Bridge welcomes new Queenslanders The eighth annual festival marked Refugee Week 2015 by bringing together Brisbane’s diverse communities
  • 23. enriching our future Ongoing migration to Queensland will continue to strengthen Queensland’s position as part of the global networked economy. MDA’s existing professional and community networks along with its cultural expertise is leading the way in boosting Queensland’s capacity to support increasing numbers of migrants, in turn strengthening Queensland’s place in Australia and the world for the benefit of all. New arrivals to Queensland possess an array of qualities that place them in a unique position to add value to our economy and communities. It’s not only the diverse skill sets they possess, but a certain determination to establish themselves in the Queensland community through economic participation. Actions that compliment and support their preparedness to seize available opportunities represent a very minor investment with potentially enormous returns. MDA continued its work this year strengthening our shared future through assisting new arrivals to prepare for employment and access employment opportunities. Clearly, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are also worthy of significant investment, and this year we continued our work enhancing the cultural competence and responsiveness of the early childhood sector through the work of our Bicultural Support Services team. STRONG FOUNDATIONS More than 650individuals housed EMPLOYMENT 240 jobsoutcomes for MDA clients VOLUNTEERS more than 21benefited from MDA client volunteers charity organisations 44 45
  • 24. “...it’s an outlet that also gives something tangible and meaningful back to the community.” A New Lease on Life for Donated Bikes A shipping container based at MDA’s Northside office in May was packed to the roof with 200 refurbished bicycles given a new lease on life by MDA’s client volunteers. The shipment soon set sail to Pormpuraaw, an Aboriginal community in Cape York, far north Queensland, where the bicycles are now part of a community program to promote healthy lifestyles and improved school attendance. Thirteen asylum seekers volunteered in the restoration of donated bicycles since October last year in a partnership between MDA, the Nundah Activity Centre, and Bikes 4 Life; a volunteer-based charity that has supported the repair and distribution of donated bicycles throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, and as far afield as Uganda. “It’s been a great experience,” said Nundah Activity Centre’s General Manager, Mr Don Rudd. “We’re all about trying to put together things for newcomers to the community, and these are people that really need a hand, including things that we can hopefully fulfill with this kind of program, including social engagement, some English language skills and local work experience.” But the benefits have flowed in both directions, says Mr Rudd. “Our guys learn a lot from working with refugees, including a greater understanding of the situation they face, some skills that they have, some cultural information, and cultural exchange – it’s a great program both ways,” he said. MDA Vice Chair, Mr Peter Forday says the program is not only of value to the volunteers themselves, but has a host of wider community impacts. “This project adds to the job readiness skills of the volunteers, it helps people associate and mix, and engage in dialogue with broader members of the community,” he said. “But it’s an outlet that also gives something tangible and meaningful back to the community. The outcomes have been absolutely fantastic, and not just for locals. Even the recipients in Cape York are benefiting, and they haven’t even met our clients. It meets so many goals that compliment what MDA and the Nundah Activity Centre are trying to achieve,” said Mr Forday. As a final activity, the volunteers turned their hand to an altogether different trade, decorating the container with a vibrant mural as a welcoming gift to the Pormpuraaw community. Volunteers getting artistic on the shipping container to be sent to Pormpuraaw 46 47
  • 25. But it’s their attitude, courtesy and willingness to adapt to new role tasks that has perhaps left the greatest impression on Rob and his Annerley colleagues. “We’ve been working with MDA clients...we’re finding the relationship fruitful both ways,” Rob says. “Their willingness to please and to be polite and respectful is a trait were finding in all of MDA’s clients. We’re also seeing that their skills are quickly adapted. They might already have those skills, but they need to adapt them to the retail component of the business. Our retail component isn’t just ‘meet and greet’. There’s the infrastructure component and the back of house at the store, and they are picking up these skills very quickly,” said Rob. “We want to thank MDA for this opportunity. The relationship has been terrific to date. MDA clients are now part of our team, and our customers, I’ve got to say, are enjoying it. First hand we’re seeing a good result here and it should be encouraged,” he said. Volunteer spirit enriches Asthma Foundation The year delivered more great stories about the real difference MDA clients are making through volunteering with a host of great community organisations and programs, including the Asthma Foundation Queensland’s Annerley shop. Purchases made at the nationwide network of Asthma Foundation Op Shops helps fund world-leading asthma research right here in Australia – a mission now supported in the Annerley shop by MDA client volunteers. But the benefits are flowing in many different directions as shop manager, Rob Maizels explains. “We’ve been working with MDA clients at our Annerley shop for about twelve months now and we’re finding the relationship fruitful both ways,” Rob says. “We’re really enjoying having the opportunity to work with some very intelligent people, and from a skill point of view, they are outstanding. What we’re seeing is a growth in confidence in terms of communication and the way they use their time with us as they keep coming regularly. The exchange of ideas and communication, whether there’s a language barrier or not, is breaking down the barriers every week they are here. We see it in their confidence, and we see the way they come out of themselves. It’s not just a one off, we’re building a relationship that’s working both ways,” he said. Volunteering boosts work-readiness of asylum seekers A welcome policy development in the last financial year was the reintroduction of work rights for many asylum seekers in Queensland. Thanks to their efforts volunteering through MDA’s Client Volunteering Program (CVP), many are now well positioned to access employment opportunities on the back of their local experience. Bridging visa holder Mohammad Nurul (name altered) is now the proud employee of a Brisbane Catholic Secondary College after actively volunteering through the CVP, most recently with the Asthma Foundation. “Working at the Asthma Foundation was great for me. I gained a lot of confidence practicing my English with different people,” said Mohammad, who arrived in Australia after fleeing Sudan where his family remain in a refugee camp. “At the Asthma Foundation, I got to work behind the service counter, talk with customers, help with stock and sometimes even go into the street to collect donations. “It was a great chance for me to develop my language. Before volunteering when I had no work rights, I often felt a lot of boredom and experienced depression.” “The chance to volunteer with organisations through MDA is a brilliant initiative. Now with work rights, everything will be better. I’m now looking forward again,” he said. Match made in heaven Mohammad also participated in an intake of MDA’s Community Learning Initiative this year which brought together work-readiness training delivered by MDA and accredited training in Business Administration through HELP Enterprises. Each program intake culminates in a special event called Right Match, where the new program graduates pit their job interview skills against a panel of employers representing a variety of industries. At the sound of the bell, the program graduates – including people form a wide variety of cultural and occupational backgrounds – rotate, and move on to the next employer, akin to speed dating. “I was really nervous, but it was a great experience, and I gained a lot from practicing with workers at MDA. This experience helped me with my real job interview that got me a job with the school,” he said. A graduate at a Right Match event in May 2015 48 49
  • 26. Continuing the Work & WelcomeTM Journey From Work & Welcome to New Australian of the Year, Gabriel Ukuno’s 2001 placement at Padua College, Kedron, set the foundations for more than a decade of outstanding professional and community contributions. Originally from Sudan (prior to the creation of a separate South Sudanese State), Gabriel’s life was turned upside down when his brother, a prominent politician, was murdered at the hands of rebel forces only a stone’s throw from where he was standing. Gabriel used his profession as a journalist to criticise the State and its complicit role in enabling the corruption, violence and extrajudicial killings that were tearing his nation and life apart. This undertaking made him the target of numerous death threats and eventually forced him to leave his own country in search of safety. Down to his last dollar and on the brink of being forced back into Sudan where he would face certain death, a last minute encounter with a priest with Australian connections opened the permanent resettlement pathway that Gabriel and family so desperately craved. Gabriel was one of the early Work & Welcome program participants when it was called ‘Job Pledge’. The completion of his placement quickly opened doors that have seen Gabriel make enormous contributions in the fields of settlement, education and community development. The New Australian of the Year Award acknowledges the contributions of people who have migrated to Australia within the last 18 years. Although quietly proud, he says he wishes the trophy could be carved up and its pieces distributed equally amongst the many African Queenslanders who have contributed to the settlement wellbeing of their respective communities, often involving countless hours of voluntary service performed outside the remit of their regular jobs. “The award belongs to the entire community,” he said. An award winning program! MDA along with Work & Welcome program founder, Mark Taylor, were delighted to receive public recognition for this fantastic work in August 2014, winning a Queensland Premier’s Cultural Diversity Award in the field of Education and Training for Queensland Cultural Diversity Week 2014. The award recognises the outstanding contribution of the program in creating pathways to employment for new Queenslanders. Work&Welcome™continuestogrowin2014-15 Work & Welcome™ remains a unique program offering invaluable job opportunities for refugees and migrants in a very supportive environment. There are now 22 workplaces who partner with MDA in the program, and more than 100 refugees and migrants have participated in it since the year 2000. We have been delighted to partner with four new workplaces this year: • Lourdes Hill College (Hawthorne, Brisbane) • St Rita’s College (Clayfield, Brisbane) • Loreto College (Coorparoo, Brisbane) • Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (Sydney) With Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, the third non-school partner has now joined the program, helping us to provide an ever increasing breadth of placement opportunities. Work & Welcome success Yasir’s journey is a reminder of the diverse skill sets that many migrants and former refugees bring with them on their arrival to Australia. Fluent in four languages, Yasir is also a qualified scientist, having obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Pakistan. Since arriving in Australia, Yasir has gained qualifications in security work and was the successful applicant for a term two Work & Welcome placement with Loreto Normanhurst College in Sydney. Having left a great impression on his colleagues, Yasir is now employed by the school on an ongoing basis. Yasir Rehman a Work & Welcome success story Zabihullah Abidi did his Work &Welcome placement at the State Library of Queensland 50 51
  • 27. Like everywhere in Queensland, the composition of children attending child care services is increasing in its diversity, yet there is not always a strong understanding of the role played by culture in shaping the behaviour of children, the expectations of families, and the related development of the child’s identity. Additionally, the cultural expertise of educators from culturally and lingustically diverse (CALD) backgrounds working in early childhood education centres often remains untapped beyond the provision of language support. On top of this, educators working with families from a CALD background are often uncomfortable asking too many questions about culture and home life for fear of being ‘inappropriate’ or causing offence. The expo aimed to address these challenges by creating a warm, welcoming, and safe environment for educators to engage with MDA’s cultural support workers and learn about child rearing practices in their culture of origin. MDA remains incredibly grateful to the Health and Community Services Workforce Council for their ongoing commitment to this important future building work. Cultural Expo – Family Life in the Global Village A special exhibition coordinated by MDA’s Bicultural Support Services team this year provided early childhood workers with refreshing new insights into diverse cultures and child rearing practices along with tips and activities to enhance their engagement with culturally diverse children in the classroom setting. Ten Cultural Support Workers (CSWs) and community members set up a display, expo style, to present information to early childhood workers about their culture and child rearing practices, with additional activities including; cooking (bread making), craft (weaving and worry dolls), dance styles from around the world, singing, storytelling and a ‘Samoan Rev Up’. The main focus was to provide educators with examples of activities that they can reproduce in their service to engage children with cultural diversity. Information, including factsheets and other resources were also distributed on the day. Case in point We recently received an inquiry from an educator who attended the expo wanting to arrange professional development in cultural inclusion for her team. During the discussion she mentioned that she was struggling to help a child from an African background to settle into the service. The MDA program worker mentioned that we have a number of CSWs from different African backgrounds that may be able to help, and that one particular man is a great story teller who would probably be particularly engaging for this group of older children. The educator immediately said “Not Costa! He’s amazing!” It turned out that she had enjoyed and remembered his stories from the expo. As she knew Costa and could envisage the work they could do together, she was very enthusiastic. Costa is currently working with her and the children in her OSHC service. Costa, one of MDA’s Cultural Support Workers 52 53
  • 28. HSS client carves out a new beginning Sculpting is a rare pursuit here in Australia, but one that has rich history in Afghanistan, with many having earned their living by chipping away at cold, hard stone with little more than a chisel, hammer, and an inspired mind’s eye. When the Hosseini family were welcomed to Queensland through MDA’s Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program last year, Mubarak Shah Hosseini had left behind his cherished trade – a trade that brought about the very reason for his decision to round up a few modest possessions, and leave the country with his family in search of safety. “In Afghanistan, the Taliban are against people making sculptures and these kinds of things,” says Said Mujtaba Hosseini, one of Mubarak Shah’s sons. “The Taliban warned my father that he better leave or they would (kill him). People used to invest a lot of money in beautiful sculptures and people were able to run businesses, but now people know it’s not worth spending money.” The Taliban had earlier destroyed the breathtaking Buddhas of Bamiyan, one of the world’s archaeological wonders, but Said Mujtaba says their cultural influence lingers on. “Many people began sculpting because of the Buddhas and their beauty. Most people didn’t even study sculpting. They learn from looking at things like that and watching others.” Mubarak Shah was an exception, his talent gaining him a Masters degree at university, and for a while, earning him a good living. On arriving in Australia, however, Mubarak Shah became depressed without a sense of purpose. But his case manager, Tadewos Beyene, provided the encouragement and support to help him launch a new aspiration; he would become a sculptor again in Australia. “Since he’s started working on new sculptures, he’s the happiest person in the world when he talks to me now,” says Tadewos. Said Mujtaba says his father’s beautiful creations take weeks of effort. His work was exhibited in a competition at Brisbane City Hall recently where he won a prize. “There were a lot of different art types there. My father’s was distinct. It was a man with his wife, two kids, and their donkey trying to leave the country to find a safe place.” At 60 years of age, Mubarak Shah is now hopeful he will once again earn a living doing what he does best. “My father’s English is not so strong, but sculpting is good for him because his job is not related to English. He’s guided by his hands and body,” said Said Mujtaba. “He’s so happy since he started doing this again. He says it makes him a young man again.” Big steps in short time for HSS client MDA HSS Case Manager, Anouska Nelson, often sees big transformations in her clients as they build new aspirations for their life in Australia, but the story of a single woman from Liberia left a really special mark. “When I started working with her last year, she was generally feeling quite depressed. Her circumstances were quite difficult. She used to say things to me like, ‘My life is hopeless.’ She felt she didn’t have any purpose.” As their relationship grew, so too did the woman’s hopes for the future. “I linked her with a volunteer in MDA’s Family Match program. She also started to make plans around how she would make a living in Australia. She was very eager to get a job. After doing some research together, she decided she wanted to work in aged care, so we found a course and she enrolled. It was inspiring how far she was travelling every day, but that was part of her new optimism. She wanted to succeed. Her relationship with her volunteer was also quite special. She’d say things like how her volunteer ‘gets me out of the house, is making me active, and is making me feel young all over again.’” “Since she moved on from HSS, she’s now completed her studies in Aged Care. She looked happy and healthy and said her life is now full of purpose. Actually, she’d just completed a job interview with the same provider she did her aged care placement at. She had a really good feeling about how the interview went. Also, she was shopping at Aldi, so she knows how to budget too!” MDA’s HSS team at our end of year party in 2014 54 55
  • 29. A place to call home Supporting new arrivals to access their first Queensland home is the ultimate way of creating welcome, providing a secure foundation and building their capacity to become independent and successful tenants in the Queensland private rental market. In 2014-15, MDA’s Housing Services team supported our clients across all of our programs, including Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS), Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) and Youth Support Services (YSS). The team also plays its part in changing the conversation about diversity in Queensland through its positive engagement in the private rental and other housing markets in the provision of housing options. We worked in partnership with more that 100 real estate agents in the private market during the 2014-15 financial year, creating 213 private tenancies that housed a total of 656 new arrivals and new independent tenancies in Queensland. Assisting new arrivals to build up their rental track record, along with the transfer of knowledge and skills relevant to maintaining a tenancy in Queensland, enhances their future rental applications, and strengthens their settlement outcomes. Supporting young people towards independence Along with our ongoing work supporting Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHMs), MDA commenced new work in 2014-15, providing wrap-around support to 16 additional Unaccompanied Minors (UAM) through Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS). With no identified parent of relative over the age of 21 to care for them in Australia, MDA is the appointed custodian for these young people and is required to provide for their welfare. Equally importantly, though, is the work we do nurturing the development of key life skills and self-agency to support young people successfully transition into adulthood. This enables successfull settlement independence and a positive foundation for life in Australia through orientation and the development of important skills. Program case managers and MDA’s Social Inclusion team developed an intensive outreach lifeskills program which has been delivered to UAM clients during the year. Topics covered include goal setting, managing emotions, setting healthy boundaries, securing/maintaining housing, and budgeting. The program has been well received by young people and it will be delivered to UHM clients in the 2015-16 financial year. MDA also hosted a range of activities for both the UAM and UHM programs. These included a hike at the Gold Coast hinterland; a futsal/basketball event; zine workshops; and client participation at LUMINOUS. A total of 34 people were supported across these programs in the 2014-15 financial year, with some transitioning out of the program during this time as they turned 18 years old. In these cases, we supported their transition into independent living. Highlights from 2014-15 include: Of the 24 UHM clients supported throughout the year, 23 were engaged in ongoing education with the remaining young person gaining full time employment Four young people attained academic achievement awards Eight young people gained or maintained casual or full time employment All young people in the UAM program eligible for ongoing education have been supported to continue their studies One young person with significant and complex mental health issues was supported to attend MDA’s weekly art class. This led to them showing their art at a Headspace exhibition and selling several pieces. Individuals housed acrossprograms 656 213private rental tenancies Housing in HSS and SRSS 56 57
  • 30. Everyone benefits when new arrivals are able to forge genuine local connections. As we work towards an inclusive and united multicultural society, we know the welcome, safety and pathways to full participation that we provide for new arrivals can strengthen the social and economic fabric of the entire community. Making this happen is a two-way street for both the new arrivals, in the effort they make to settle into the community, and for the rest of us in the positive and supportive welcome we give them in their new home. We believe that a strong multicultural future depends not only on equipping newcomers with the skills and knowledge needed to live independently, but also through building new bridges of understanding that assist: communities; individuals; employers; government agencies; schools; sector partners; and other organisations to embrace our increasing diversity. By having the resources, processes, skills and knowledge required to bring the relationship to life, MDA is helping to shape a better future for new arrivals to Queensland and Australia. We are proud to share our multicultural expertise through MDA Training and our Community Education program, where we build cultural competence, grow awareness and knowledge, and enhance cross cultural interaction. Building Connections We are proud to share our multicultural expertise OPPORTUNITIES mda helped communities secure $700k+in government funding HELPING HANDS mda has more than 200dedicated volunteers ASSISTING funding for more than 50community groups and organisations in queensland 58 59
  • 31. MDA’s Grants Access Program...assisting individuals, communities and organisations representing almost 50 different cultural backgrounds Grants Access MDA’s Grants Access Program put multicultural Queenslanders on the path to accessing nearly $700,000 in government and corporate funding opportunities this year, assisting individuals, communities and organisations representing almost 50 different cultural backgrounds. As a state-wide program, Queensland’s regional areas didn’t miss out on key information and expert advice; MDA delivered workshops in Warwick, Logan, Cairns and Rockhampton, working in collaboration with local councils and community organisations. To ensure communities submitted strong applications to Multicultural Affairs Queensland’s 2014-15 Valuing Diversity Grants Program (VDGP), MDA designed and delivered information sessions on this funding opportunity and undertook promotions attracting interested applicants from Woodridge to Weipa. MDA-assisted clients succeeded in obtaining almost $300,000 from a possible $495,000 distributed in the VDGP 2014-15 funding round. Grants Access Online Portal MDA’s Grants Access Program is now open for business 24-hours-a-day, with its new online presence helping keep Queensland multicultural communities up-to-date with information on relevant funding opportunities across the entire state, with daily updates on the MDA Grants Access portal featuring links, videos and online resources. Leveraging MDA’s Facebook page has enabled the program to share both opportunities and success stories with more than 6000 users. Grant Success for Polynesian Dance School Heilani Productions, a Logan Polynesian dance school, had been previously unsuccessful in their grant applications, despite the dance school having a track history in staging highly acclaimed events funded from their own back-pocket. Founder and choreographer, Leilani, actively participated in both the ‘Introduction to Grant Preparation’ workshop last year, along with a VDGP session. Following this, she received face-to-face and virtual support to draft an application for VDGP 2014-2015 funding. Heilani Productions was successful in December 2014, awarded with a $3000 grant for their dance production, ‘NATURA – A celebration of Mother Earth’, that debuted in January 2015 at the Logan Entertainment Centre. Heilani Productions perform ‘NATURA– A celebration of Mother Earth’ 60 61
  • 32. MDA’s Volunteers win Australia Day award It’s too hard to single out one shining star from the pool of 200 plus dedicated MDA volunteers. That’s why we nominated them all for the fifteenth annual Griffith Australia Day Awards! In our work providing settlement support, the enthusiasm and skills of MDA volunteers adds a richness and depth to our client’s orientation to life in Queensland, by providing local community connection and enhancing wellbeing through social support, conversation and friendship. MDA’s volunteers eagerly embrace newcomers, encouraging the development and sharing of skills, forging new friendships and linking to local communities. This develops strong and connected communities that enrich the lives of all Queenslanders. Welcome Sounds Our amazing Guitar Group volunteers are connecting with MDA clients through the creation and enjoyment of music. One of the primary focuses is to use music as a forum for storytelling and participation. “I always try to do my best for the clients, not only sharing music knowledge and skills but also trying to connect to emotions and recognising our commonness. I have never asked them what they have been through in the past but I know they tell their stories in the music each and every session. I love that they use intuitive language through music like I do.” “My happiest moment in the guitar class was seeing one the female students remove her manicured nails so she could play guitar. I am sure she loves music very, very much.” (MDA Volunteer)MDA Vollies at the fifteenth annual Griffith Australia Da y Awards Guitar Group has been a real success with volunteers and partipants alike! 62 63
  • 33. Our wonderful volunteers have also provided support across: SOCIAL INCLUSION Women’s Corner Chai Time MDA English No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) Support Pathway Client and family picnics WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS English for Work Job Club Youth Job Club Prepare to Participate EVENTS Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebrations Tamil & Sinhalese New Year celebration LUMINOUS Lantern Parade WELCOMEfest Zillmere Festival Volunteers pave way to brighter actions MDA’s No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) Support Pathway provides individuals and families on a low income access to safe, fair and affordable credit to finance essential household items. NILS plays a vital role in the microfinance sector for those on a low income as part of the national Good Shepherd Microfinance network. MDA volunteers play a key role in the weekly NILS support pathway clinics, working directly along-side clients to complete a NILS application to finance the purchase of essential items needed in their homes. Through partnership with the Bright Actions project, who offer individualised advice through personal in home energy assessments, NILS encourages the purchase of energy efficient appliances to empower individuals and families to drive down household energy consumption. Many ways to make a difference! Our ever powerful Family Match program supported 163 volunteer-client pairings in the last financial year. This program continues to offer members of the community and our clients opportunities to make meaningful and rewarding connections with each other. One of our volunteers shared: “My highlight has been learning a new religion and getting to know a different community. I find it fascinating learning and love that I can get involved. The family make me feel like they are proud to introduce me to their community which makes me so happy!” Our 200-plus active volunteers make a real difference to our clients and the community through their involvement in supporting clients and MDA in many diverse ways. They are our multicultural champions! “Without our volunteers, creating welcome for new Queenslanders would not be possible” KERRIN BENSON, CEO 64 65
  • 34. Shree and Bhakta of Mountain Mowing Men An initiative of the Acacia Ridge Community Centre (and MDA Welcome Hubs), Stitched Up is a vibrant social enterprise grown from the very skills of the community members that make it. It’s a place for community members from refugee backgrounds to build on their strengths, and engage socially. As the business continues to grow, it also works to provide a financial income to those with barriers to employment. The main objective of the enterprise is to provide a space that welcomes diversity and offers participants an opportunity to showcase their skills and strengths. Born, based and bolstered at the Acacia Ridge Community Centre, Stitched Up has also found a home-away-from- home in the past year, setting up shop at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre each Wednesday, where they offer their skills and expertise through a friendly mobile service. It’s open most days at the Acacia Ridge Community Centre, providing a repair and remodelling service as well as design and tailoring. With two industrial sewing machines and an ever-changing collection of beautiful fabrics, customers can bring their own fabric or choose from what’s on offer. As for design, you can bring your own or allow the team to dream something up for you. If you would like to get invloved with the program, contact Acacia Ridge Community Support Inc. on 07 3277 4893. (Welcome Hubs are local community and faith-based organisations that join with MDA in creating welcome. Welcome Hubs offer people opportunities to connect, contribute and belong in their local community). Shree Monger and Bhakta Poudel both lived in a Nepali refugee camp for more than two decades before gaining the opportunity to resettle in Queensland several years ago. In Bhutan, they tilled their own fields for subsistence and profit; a calling which they say has much in common with their new business venture, Mountain Mowing Men, which keeps them hard at work and outdoors in the fresh air. Their insistence on weeding by hand and not using pesticides or poisons is one thing they say sets their yard maintenance business apart from others in the Brisbane market, along with service reliability, eye for detail, a strong work ethic, and big smiles. The NCEC and MDA have been supporting Shree and Bhakta to establish their business through mentoring and skill development in areas such as profit and loss statements, using spreadsheets and marketing. Mountain Mowing Men is now open for business! Contact them on mountainmowingmen@gmail.com or 0470 376 998. Kings of the mountain Brisbane’s fertile soil and ever- growing lawns are providing business and employment opportunities for former refugees through a partnership between Nundah Community Enterprises Co-op (NCEC) and MDA’s Social Inclusion and Housing teams. MDA recently began working with the NCEC to leverage their respective skills and resources together to create Mowing Me, Mowing You, a project that turned property maintenance into an opportunity for refugee communities. The project saw NCEC provide hands on training for participants, while providing garden maintenance to properties managed by MDA’s Housing team. Participants were recruited through the Social Inclusion team’s engagement with communities on the Northside, in particular the Bhutanese community and their expressed frustrations with finding meaningful employment. The first graduates of the Mowing Me, Mowing You project have now established their own garden maintenance business. Stitched Up! 66 67
  • 35. MDA clients help Rockhampton On the 20th February 2015, the Capricorn Coast was hit by a category five tropical cyclone that thankfully was downgraded to a severe category three by the time it travelled inland to Rockhampton. Nevertheless, several homes – including those of MDA clients – were severely damaged. Accustomed to floods and bush fires, the last cyclone to directly pass over and impact Rockhampton was nearly 40 years ago! Despite the speed with which Tropical Cyclone Marcia developed and the region’s inexperience with this kind of severe weather event, MDA’s response was solid with staff and CSWs notifying in excess of 200 clients of warnings and emergency contact numbers. MDA clients rallied behind recovery efforts, participating in a clean-up at the PCYC in Rockhampton before backing up to help the Yeppoon PCYC get back on its feet. Education forum promotes bright futures The Brisbane LAC network delivered a special education forum this year with the goal of ensuring bright futures for refugee and migrant youth. Working with other LAC member organisations, MDA’s Advocacy team led on developing the forum targeted at education professionals from the school and vocational education sectors, along with settlement support workers. We wanted the forum to encourage participants to think creatively about some of the issues encountered in accessing education for new arrivals, such as: enrolment challenges; language needs; transport difficulties to intensive schools; and strategies to overcome these difficulties. We also wanted to promote conversations between the sectors about how to collaborate more effectively to address challenges together. The majority of the 100 participants in attendance reported that the forum improved their understanding in relation to these issues, suggesting there was a strong need to continue the dialogue and collaborate on a sector response. Delivering a strong settlement sector MDA, along with other organisations that support refugees through the Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program enjoy strong working relationships nurtured in Local Area Coordination (LAC) meetings. MDA proudly coordinates quarterly LAC network meetings in both Brisbane and the South West Queensland regions. LAC meetings provide the opportunity for organisations and services to come together to coordinate settlement service provision and to share information to assist strategic settlement decision making. Key areas of LAC action have included: Health: Establishing a health sub-group, bringing together organisations relevant to health in early settlement in the Brisbane and Central Coast Queensland HSS contract regions Mental Health: Providing input to the development of an issues paper submitted to the Queensland Mental Health Commission Domestic violence crosses all cultures and communities and is not a bigger issue in new and emerging communities than the community generally. It is important to ensure all communities benefit from efforts to prevent and respond to DV. The SQW LAC is now working on DV related issues to ensure prevention and response strategies include culturally appropriate and targeted measures for new and emerging communities SWQ LAC is currently working on accessibility to transport in Toowoomba, following feedback that some new arrivals were unable to enrol their children in schools offering intensive English education because they did not leave nearby and with limited public transport options. Information provides the power to move A targeted education session delivered to members of South East Queensland’s Bhutanese community imparted vital knowledge about public transportation and road licensing in Queensland, empowering them to share their learnings with other new arrivals. The session followed a series of community consultations in which ‘getting around’ emerged as a top priority. Although a high priority for many new arrivals, the need is perhaps even greater for the Bhutanese community. Many from the new and emerging community are now providing settlement support themselves as family proposers through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Special Humanitarian Program (SHP). Fifteen clients took part in the session, which covered topics including: purchasing a go card; how to register a go card with TransLink; how and where to use a go card; driver licensing; and driving law in Queensland. The SHP received a significant quota increase in the last year, and significant interest from Queensland families wanting to sponsor family members to join them in Australia. As part of the program, sponsors become the primary settlement support provider for family members when they receive their visas. This year marks an important global achievement as the 100,000th refugee from Bhutan is expected to depart refugee camps in Nepal for resettlement. Australia has welcomed close to 5500 refugees from Bhutan, who have settled in both regional and metropolitan areas around Australia, and are now making valuable contributions to this nation and their local communities. 68 69
  • 36. Rohingya settlement highlights: Housing Five families have bought houses and more than 50 per cent of families are renting on the private market. Money management Not many Queenslanders could say they have purchased a house with no finance. After five short years, several Rohingya families already have! Budgeting and money management is not an issue in this community, demonstrated by the community’s ability to support private education, purchase cars, rent on the private housing market and support university attendance for their children. Employment The Rohyinga community has proven highly motivated around gaining employment and supporting their family members financially. They have been very willing to fill vacancies in industries which have hard-to-fill roles, including in regional areas. Education MDA via the SGP program has assisted the Rohingya community by linking them with volunteer tutors (VORTCS & MDA) to support their aspirations around education. Some of the children are now topping their grades at school, while at least 12 young adults are studying at university, including Pharmacy and Biomedical Science. Citizenship More than 50 people have gained Australian citizenship in the last couple of years and are now voting in local, state and federal elections. This has come as a significant event to a community who were formerly stateless in their own lands. Women Women have developed strong community networks through engaging with their local neighbourhood centres. Supporting the aspirations of women in this community has been ongoing work for MDA’s Social Inclusion team. Current priorities include the development of advanced English language skills and exploring employment opportunities for stay-at- home mums. Youth projects Delivered by MDA and the Brisbane City Council, the Queensland Rohingya Youth Development Project was developed to reduce isolation and potential disengagement of Rohingya youth and has focussed on building the leadership capacity of young men from within the community to organise activities for the wider community. Achievements have included an increased sense of belonging, engagement with other cultural groups, sporting tournaments and the establishment of a University Student Support Group Drivers licenses Following an SGP program that offered information sessions and practical driving support, more than 90 people within the community have now obtained a drivers license (both men and women). Rohingya community living Australian dream Home ownership is the famous Australian dream, yet one that for many Australians is becoming increasingly difficult to realise. This amongst many other things makes the settlement journey of Queensland’s Rohingya community all the more remarkable. Late last year marked the fifth anniversary of the first Rohingya people arriving in Queensland with many more arriving in the weeks and months that followed. Five years also marked the end of a very special journey for MDA staff, particularly those who provide continuing settlement support through our Settlement Grants Program (SGP). The Rohingya arrived having survived extremely difficult circumstances, most with very limited education, and all with the challenge of settling into a new place with no existing family or community ties. Yet for the 161 Rohingya families that MDA has supported until recently through our Continuing Settlement Services program, the sky is now the limit. ...the settlement journey of Queensland’s Rohingya community has been remarkable 70 71