Health services, councils, community service providers, government agencies and utility providers are taking their messages for migrants online in a first for the St George region.
Migrant Information Day (MID) has been an annual event in St George for more than 20 years featuring stalls, activities and multicultural performances.
However, this year, when the coronavirus pandemic dashed hopes of holding the event face-to-face, its organisers had to think laterally.
The result is an online video festival, to commence on November 9, which will help newly arrived migrants and refugees find the support they need to settle effectively.
‘This year has forced us all to think of new ways to connect with the community,’ said Jenny Tang, Community Development Worker at Advance Diversity Services (ADS). ‘Happily, these new methods have also opened up opportunities for us and made our services and communities more resilient and adaptable.
‘One positive development has been gathering short videos from local agencies that offer insights into their services.’
Ms Tang explained that a number of community service providers, including ADS, had for the first time focused their attention on online marketing and invested money to create new videos to adapt to the lack of face-to-face promotional opportunities available.
The MID committee supported these marketing initiatives through the provision of subsidies.
‘This first-time video-fest is the fruit of these efforts,’ Ms Tang said. ‘A promotional blitz in November and early December will help to ensure the videos reach newly arrived refugees and migrants.’
Local services in the line-up include ADS, Kogarah Community Services, Rockdale Children and Families Hub, St George Community Transport and 3 Bridges Community. The South Eastern Sydney Local Area Health District and the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service have also provided videos which cover COVID-safe information, Quitline, the Liver Clinic, and mental health services.
Migrant Information Online videos can be accessed through a single convenient link on YouTube (bit.ly/mio-2020) and the videos will be available for one year.
The MID committee is comprised of representatives from Bayside Council, Georges River Council, Kogarah Community Services, Advance Diversity Services, TAFE NSW, South East Sydney Local Health District, Services Australia and St George Police Area Command.
ADS Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/advancediversityservices/
Advance Diversity Services (ADS) is partnering with the University of Wollongong (UOW) to enhance the ability of the settlement and community services sectors to serve the needs of CALD LGBTIQA+ communities.
The joint research project, funded by UOW’s Community Engagement Grants Scheme, aims to understand gaps in the knowledge and skills of diversity service workers when servicing culturally diverse LGBTIQ+ communities in the context of COVID-19.
‘This is a wonderful opportunity to pilot a collaborative approach to understanding the level of LGBTIQA+ acceptance, knowledge and skills of ADS’s service workers,’ said Anthony Scerri, ADS’s Manager for Settlement and Community Services.
‘Once we identify gaps, we can effectively target staff training. Our ultimate aim is to ensure people from CALD LGBTIQ+ communities receive the services they need and feel welcome and included.’
Dr Quah Ee Ling Sharon, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, is leading the research project. Dr Qua is a Singaporean-Chinese queer migrant woman academic whose work draws from decolonial, transnational and intersectional feminist perspectives and centres round community-based research, inequalities and social justice.
She said she was happy to be collaborating with ADS on the project to bring better outcomes for CALD LGBTIQA+ people.
Three innovative projects were chosen for UOW’s 2020 Community Engagement Grants Scheme launched at a virtual celebration on October 22.
Monique Harper-Richardson, Director of Advancement, UOW, and President of the UOW’s USA Foundation, said the quality of this year’s applications for grants was ‘at the highest level’ and all projects funded focused on resilience and recovery for communities affected by COVID-19.
‘These are extraordinary projects and I’m incredibly excited. I also extend my sincere congratulations to the three recipients.’
Special guest at the celebration Dr Belinda Kathlyn Gibbons, Senior Lecturer Faculty of Business, Sydney Business School, UOW, said the grants would help to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals ‘to care for all things and to leave no one behind’.
Mr Scerri said the pandemic had been hard on many in the community and especially marginalised people from diverse backgrounds.
‘This research will help to ensure LGBTIQA+ people from CALD backgrounds receive the best and most appropriate service possible.’
Caption 1: Dr Quah Ee Ling Sharon, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Wollongong (UOW) at the virtual launch of a new UOW-ADS research project.
On October 19, Advance Diversity Services (ADS) was presented with two major awards in the 2020 Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards held at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney.
ADS was chosen as the HWEI Gold Employer and HWEI Service Provider of the Year – great tributes to the work it has been doing to improve its services and practices to support people who identify with a diverse gender and/or sexuality (LGBTIQA+).
Anthony Scerri, Manager, Settlement and Community Services, and Michael Cheung, Corporate Services Manager, were proud to receive the awards on behalf of ADS.
Mr Scerri said COVID-19 restrictions meant award recipients were initially announced during a virtual ceremony on June 11, so it was great to attend the more recent ‘live’ ceremony to celebrate ADS’s achievements.
‘In my speech, I was pleased to communicate how just far ADS has come in its journey towards inclusion of LGBTIQA+ people and of our desire to be a lighthouse to other CALD providers.’
Mr Scerri said one example of ADS’ educational leadership was the Pride in My Faith video project ADS is producing to help illustrate how for many people from CALD backgrounds faith and religion are entwined in culture.
‘The project features interviews with CALD LGBTQIA+ people who have embraced their queerness and faith and aims to help service providers make their policies, practices and environments safe and visibly accepting of LGBTIQA+ people.’
Another example of ADS’s commitment to inclusion was its recent partnership with the University of Wollongong in a COVID-19 / LGBTIQA+ research project, which will help ADS target effective inclusiveness training for its staff, Mr Scerri said.
The LGBTQ Inclusion Awards celebrate Australia’s top organisations for LGBTQ inclusion based on the results of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) and Australian Health + Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI). They also acknowledge leaders, individuals and networks that have made a significant impact on LGBTQ inclusion within their workplaces.
The awards are run by Pride in Diversity, a social inclusion initiative of ACON.
In 2020, the Covid-safe awards ceremony attracted over 750 CEOs, dignitaries, senior executives, HR and diversity practitioners, employee network leaders and members of LGBTQ employee networks and allies. It was hosted by SBS World News presenter, Ricardo Goncalves, and featured the winner of The Voice 2016, singer/songwriter Alfie Arcuri.
Caption: Anthony Scerri and Michael Cheung, Corporate Services Manager receive Advance Diversity Services’ HWEI Gold Employer and HWEI Service Provider of the Year awards at the 2020 Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards in October.
Vulnerable temporary visa holders who live in southern Sydney and are adversely affected by COVID-19 can access greater support from Advance Diversity Services (ADS) thanks to a $40,000 grant received last month from Multicultural NSW.
Temporary visa holders from South East Sydney, St George, Sutherland or surrounding areas who are facing financial hardship can receive emergency food and supplies, medical support, telecommunications, transport and essential housing (i.e. crisis accommodation and rent payment) via ADS.
CEO of ADS, Antoinette Chow, said the funding is critical to ensuring the wellbeing of vulnerable temporary visa holders who have increasingly been at risk of hardship since the onset of the pandemic.
‘ADS and other specialist migrant and settlement services have been doing what we can to assist these people with essentials, but the grant makes it feasible for us to offer dedicated emergency support.’
To receive this support from ADS, people must:
- Currently reside in NSW
- Demonstrate hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Not receive any income assistance (regular living allowance payment) from the Commonwealth Government
- Currently hold a temporary visa which may include (but is not limited to) one of the following:
- Temporary Working Visa Holders
- Partner and/or Prospective Marriage Visa Holders
- Bridging Visa Holders (excluding people seeking asylum)
This includes all visa sub-classes who are deemed as temporary visa holders with the exception of asylum seekers* and international students** as they have been covered in previous funding measures.
Those seeking emergency support must also make an appointment with ADS by phoning its office on (02) 9597 5455. Please also phone for further information, if required.
Ms Chow said ADS was pleased to receive this NSW Government funding from Stream 1 of the Vulnerable Temporary Visa Holders Funding Tranche 2 Grants Program.
‘The $40,000 grant has boosted our capacity to provide essential services and emergency relief to people at the margins who are struggling in these difficult times.’
Extra support during COVID
Migrant Resource Centres, such as ADS, have been at the frontlineof providing extra support to members of the Australian community during COVID – and particularly to international students and asylum seekerswho have had limited overall support from the government.
ADS is grateful to have received a number of grants to support this work from:
*Asylum Seekers should be referred to one of the following funded organisations:
- The Salvation Army
- Settlement Services International
- St Francis Social Services – House of Welcome
- Asylum Seekers Centre
- Jesuit Refugee Service
- Australian Red Cross
**International Students should refer to the Study NSW website for further support.
A newly revised training and employment directory, which offers information to new arrivals to help them develop effective job-seeking plans, was launched online by Advance Diversity Services (ADS) on July 17.
A joint project of ADS and the St George Sutherland Shire Employment, Training and English Action Network (SSETEN), the Directory: Employment and Training Pathways is particularly useful for new migrants settling in the St George and Sutherland Shire areas.
Alex Hu, who is a recent migrant from China, believes the employment directory will help new migrants find the right training pathway to increase their skills to get a job.
‘Language and lack of understanding of how the systems work here are the major barriers to most new migrant job seekers,” he said. ‘The employment directory provides comprehensive information on English classes, training, applying for a job and the Australian workplace. I think every new migrant would find it very useful.’
ADS Manager for Settlement and Community Services Anthony Scerri: ‘the directory is a vital resource and guide for ADS Community Services Officers when they provide clients with knowledge about training, employment, recognition of overseas qualifications and English classes.’
‘The directory assists our staff to help people find the right training organisations and courses, the appropriate job-search agencies, and the best options for voluntary work to gain local experience.”
Mr Scerri said the updated version of the directory in English will be helpful to new migrants in the local area and funding was being sought to get it translated it into a variety of community languages.
See the Directory: Employment and Training Pathways online here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1h0Wf6FMJK-YLKb8_efnedJBUCJApGJ0J/view