Cultural Competency Training in Orange

Last Monday saw the Beyond Diversity team travel to regional New South Wales, to delivery cultural competency training to community sector workers at Headspace in the city of Orange. 

The Cultural Competency training was organised in response to the growing refugee and migrant client base of community organisations in regional NSW, and the need to understand and tailor services to these clients. 

Participants take in the statistics around Australian refugee intake

Participants take in the statistics around Australian refugee intake

Alison Logan, Program Manager for Headspace Orange said, “The workshops have been really interesting, thought provoking, it just opens your mind to a different way of thinking through the whole situation from which people have potentially come from, and the way we can use that information to make it easier for them to engage with us and our service.”

The training shed light on important issues and brought to attention misconceptions that participants held. Verity, a Community Engagement Worker at Orange, and Sessional Tutor at OCTEC said, “One thing that really stood out for me was the statistics on Australia's refugee intake, I was shocked and disappointed at the same time. We do have the misconception that we as a nation have one of the largest numbers in terms of intake,”

One of the Beyond Diversity Facilitators, Emmanuel talks to participants about working with South Sudanese communities and negotiating their various cultures

One of the Beyond Diversity Facilitators, Emmanuel talks to participants about working with South Sudanese communities and negotiating their various cultures

Neville Atkinson, an indigenous Australian and Youth Care Coordinator at Headspace Orange, spoke of how the cultures and values held by refugee and migrant communities resonated with him and his indigenous heritage. “A real standout to me was the similarities between my indigenous culture and the cultures of those who have comes to Australia (as migrants/refugees) - the similarities I’ve learnt that we have is something that is beneficial to me (as a worker). I think that there is a common ground there that I am eager to explore.”

“Cultural identity makes up the essence of who we are and I think that if we can’t bring that to the table, especially in such an area as mental health, we are really missing the whole point of what we are doing.”

Migrants, Refugees and Children with Disabilities

The migrant and refugee experience is tough enough, trying to negotiate a new language, culture, society, laws, education system, the list is endless. This experience is amplified when you are the parent of a child with a disability, a category that has little by way of support, but one that is starting to grow.

Recognising this need after speaking with clients, the Community Migrant Resource Centre's (CMRC) CALD Early Intervention and Perinatal Program (EIP) partnered with Holroyd School, a special needs school, to connect parents who have children with disabilities to service providers who specialize in providing support services for them, their families and communities. 

Parents meet with service providers to discuss how they can be assisted

Parents meet with service providers to discuss how they can be assisted

Margarita Videla, EIP Coordinator said, "Since the NDIS has started, there has been a lot of confusion among migrant and refugee families, about what it is exactly, what it means for them and their children. The school (Holroyd School) has expressed concern about this lack of awareness amongst parents, so we proposed to start this event to get the ball rolling and generate conversation in order to educate and empower the families we work with in a relaxed and non-threatening environment." 

Äll the service providers that are here, they've been asked to come on board as a result of extensive consulation with the school and parents, it's been tailored to what has emerged as the pressing needs of these families, like difficulty in negotiating housing, understanding the law and their rights,  dealing with depression, social isolation and other issues."

Principal Anne Flint welcomes parents and service providers to Holroyd School

Principal Anne Flint welcomes parents and service providers to Holroyd School

Principal of Holroyd School, Anne Flint said "We are aiming to build networks that connect the community and the school, as well as making the lives of our students families easier. Just last Wednesday night established our P&C for the first time in 20 years, and thanks to the efforts of the CMRC we're able to run an event like this that'll only increase the schools connection with the community, to answer questions and address their needs." 

The CMRC will be continuing their work with Holroyd School extensively over the next year to develop a practical model that will ease the transition of CALD families with children with disabilities in Australia, and will look to implement this model in other sites, schools and centres around Sydney. 

Refugee Art and Bookmarks

Last Friday the Community Migrant Resource Centre in partnership with the City of Parramatta Library launched the Refugee Bookmarker project, to kick of Refugee Week proceedings. 

The overall aim of the project, which showcases the pieces of 5 refugee artists on bookmarks that will be available across 7 different library sites, including the NSW state library, was to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and the positive contributions they've made to Australian society. 

Michelle Aneli introduces the Refugee Bookmarker project to the audience

Michelle Aneli introduces the Refugee Bookmarker project to the audience

Addressing the audience, project coordinator Michelle Aneli spoke about why the week was so significant, "The theme for Refugee Week is “With courage let us all combine”. Taken from the second verse of our national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home." 

Artists (from left to right), Mohaned, Wali, Anamika, Damon and Mohammed pause for a photo during the launch

Artists (from left to right), Mohaned, Wali, Anamika, Damon and Mohammed pause for a photo during the launch

Michelle spoke about how rewarding it was working with the 5 artists, who represent experiences from Afghanistan, India, Iran and Iraq. "I am honoured to have met and worked with these 5 artists, Wali, Mohaned, Anamika, Mohammed, and Damon. Their artworks tell stories of destruction but also hope for renewal; dreams of the refuge land from behind the fence; learning to appreciate the now and to seek happiness from within, that life is ever evolving but never forgotten, and home is where you make it. I thank them for sharing their lives with us and for being apart of this project to and advocating for the rights, freedom, and humanity of those who are in need of protection." 

The bookmarks, seen below, are available for collection at the various branches of the City of Parramatta Libraries.