A 20-week program led by Advance Diversity Services for parents and grandparents from the Nepalese community has given participants a safe space to share their experiences and gain critical information about mental health and wellbeing in the postnatal period.
ADS worked in collaboration with Kogarah Storehouse, the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) and other local services to offer the postnatal support group sessions, which included a mix of networking time, workshop activities, and self-care activities like stretching and yoga.
Sessions were co-designed with the Nepalese community and in consultation with two bicultural workers from South Eastern Sydney Local Health District – Basudha Karki and Sajana Golay Lama.
Mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers attended the informative sessions presented by health professionals and community workers and say they were educational, practical and supportive.
Having bicultural workers present and interpreting at all sessions, as well as The Kogarah Storehouse providing the venue, catering and childminding, meant participants felt comfortable and understood, and could make the most of their learning.
‘We know from providing services in the Nepalese community that new mothers in the community are experiencing postnatal depression but there are a lot of factors that prevent them from getting the support they need,’ said ADS Project Coordinator Rishi Acharya.
‘We also know parenting is not a nuclear family event in Nepalese culture – with many grandparents living with their children to help raise their grandchildren. Parenting education benefits all the family and has a flow-on effect – which is why grandparents have been so important in this project.’
Also, many mothers in the Nepalese community in the St George area return to work after six months maternity leave, meaning grandparents play a major role in bringing up the baby and keeping the family together and allowing their children to pursue their professional work.
Nepalese grandparents usually come to Australia on a Contributory Parent visa – and it can be hard to find people in their age group they can relate to who are in the same situation, which can be isolating.
Sessions offered participants a wide range of information, education and tips for practical support, with a major emphasis on:
Postnatal depression – what it feels like, how to recognise its symptoms and where to find help and treatment.
Child development and parenting skills – including health and education about the first five years of life, playgroups and preschool, transitioning to primary school and meeting age-appropriate milestones.
Other sessions looked at: Practising mindfulness to help reduce stress; The importance of child car seats; Becoming Us – a whole family approach to pregnancy, birth and beyond;
1-2-3 Magic & Emotion Coaching training to equip parents and make parenting more enjoyable; Bilingualism Speech Pathology Services; Karitane (expert parental support, education and advice); the Wolli Creek Hub; the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); intergenerational conflict; physio and occupational therapy services which demonstrated how a child’s pretend play can help them to develop social skills, fine motor skills, sensory processing, emotional regulation and self-help skills.
Participants also learnt about ForWhen, which provides a free and supportive mental health navigation service for new and expecting parents – mums, dads and guardians – and their family from their baby’s conception until their first birthday.
‘Feedback from the ADS program has been positive,’ said Mr Acharya, ‘with people valuing the sessions and the networking support they’ve encountered with other parents and carers.
Participants also say they now have increased: confidence to ask questions of bicultural facilitators and contact them directly for individual needs; awareness of services available to parents and carers; understanding about mental health services; and knowledge of complex feeding, speech delays and developmental stages.
‘It’s also a good sign that the support group wants to continue to meet on Monday mornings at The Kogarah Storehouse – to stay connected and to continue learning from sessions facilitated by health workers and other professionals.’
Mr Acharya said support and patience from family and friends is often the most important factor in a woman’s recovery from postnatal depression.
‘What we’ve done with this program is create a safe place where parents and grandparents feel comfortable to discuss mental health issues, find social connection and enjoy mutual support no matter how they’re feeling,’ Mr Acharya said.
‘This makes early identification of postnatal depression and other mental health concerns much easier.
‘The rapport that’s been fostered is quite incredible – with almost 100 people attending a family picnic at Rockdale Park on July 19 to celebrate the conclusion of the 20-week program.
‘There was much laughter at the picnic day, with games, dancing, singing, a barbecue and delicious Nepalese food shared.
‘During a game of tug of war, there were so many women on each end of the rope that everyone collapsed in laughter on both sides when the rope snapped exactly in half.
‘I think that’s a great metaphor for how we’ll win the war against postnatal depression – drawing together, not pulling apart.’
One hundred parents and grandparents residing in South-Eastern Sydney took part in the Nepalese Postnatal Education and Support Group program which ran from February to July 2023. It was funded by the St George NSW Community Collaborative whose goal is to address mental health distress, suicide and suicide risks within the community.
Community Collaborative Stakeholders were: ADS, Kogarah Storehouse, St George & Sutherland Mental Health Service, SESLHD, and Child, Youth, Family Services, Population and Community Health, SESLHD. To get involved in the Nepalese support group held at The Kogarah Storehouse on Monday mornings contact Rishi Acharya on 02 9597 5455.
A comprehensive wellbeing program for multicultural men run by Advance Diversity Services (ADS) has culminated in a stirring photographic exhibition, which is now on digital display in six Bayside Council libraries.
The exhibition features the portraits and settlement stories of 18 migrant/refugee men along with photo collages of their joint recreational activities.
Funded by Multicultural NSW (MNSW) and run by ADS Community Service Officer Rishi Acharya, the project supported recently arrived migrant and refugee men in South-Eastern Sydney to make friends and connections, have fun and navigate settlement in their new country, Australia.
The Multicultural NSW funding helped revive the ADS Men’s Wellbeing group Mr Acharya had founded many years before, but had become dormant during COVID-19. The 10 fortnightly sessions took place from February to August this year and incorporated workshops and weekend nature outings.
Bayside Council Mayor Dr Christina Curry said she was pleased to launch the ADS Multicultural Men’s Wellbeing ‘Settlement Stories’ Project at Rockdale Library on August 14 because it showed the strength of multicultural men and the significant role they play in contributing to family and connection in the Bayside community.
‘We’re a very multicultural community,’ Dr Curry said, ‘and we’re very proud of our community and the histories, traditions and cultures that you contribute to our area. I know it’s not easy. My parents migrated to Australia. No family. No friends. No English. And so, I understand the challenges – and that’s why the council working with amazing organisations like Advance Diversity Services is so important to us.’
Jit Gopali, one of the 18 men featured in the exhibition who also spoke at the launch, said he and his wife had migrated to Australia in 2017 from Nepal to be with their children who were permanent residents.
While being reunited with family had made him happy, he’d found the early years of adjustment to their new geography, culture, society, system and language isolating and difficult.
He’d been lucky to finally connect with ADS, he said, where he took part in English training and a driving course, which had increased his job prospects and scope for contact.
‘After joining the Multicultural Men’s Wellbeing Group, I also got the opportunity to learn about mainstream services like health, transport, childcare, legal and other facilities.’
Settlement and Community Services Manager for ADS, Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, said she knew it was daunting to move to a new country, having to learn a different language and systems, ‘everything from scratch’. However, programs like the Men’s Wellbeing project helped to ensure newcomers have support to access services, combat the loneliness of moving to a new country, and make friends to integrate well in their new host country.
She said workshops offered during the project included an introduction to men’s health, stress management, parenting in a new country and financial literacy.
Fun activities the men enjoyed included a tour of PCYC Rockdale with taster sports like squash, table tennis and gym workouts; coastal walks; a bush walk on the two valley trail at Wolli Creek; an Indigenous walk in the Royal National Park; and a family picnic at Rockdale Park.
‘To recognise the men’s bravery, resilience and continuing stories in Australia, Rishi and I interviewed all the participants and engaged professional photographer Bebi Zekirovski to take their portraits.
‘Our media writer, Marjorie, then condensed their stories to showcase their settlement journeys.’
Mr Acharya narrated his own micro-story at the launch and then read the stories of the 17 other men.
‘My wife and I left Nepal due to civil war,’ he said. ‘In 2008, with limited English, it was difficult to get a job. But I studied hard and have now enjoyed working at ADS with newly arrived communities for more than 10 years.’
All stories read at the launch were welcomed warmly by the audience and some, like Janak Prasad Dalal’s, elicited surprise: ‘I’m from a very mountainous part of Nepal, which meant I was 14 before I first saw electricity! I studied and lived in the US before coming to Australia in 2014. It’s very peaceful here especially after New York City where people carry guns.’
Sam Bassiouny’s story also evoked nods of recognition: ‘My wife dreamt of coming to Australia and we were looking for a country based on equality. It was hard: I’d held a big position in Egypt and had to start from the beginning. But I’ve found the land where I want to live the rest of my life!’
Ms Shenton-Kaleido thanked everyone who had helped to make the project a success, including: MNSW the funding body; Rishi Acharya project coordinator and Prem Tamang ADS student placement; Thanh Nguyen grant writer; Rockdale PCYC for the taster sport sessions; South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and Dr Prabin Pathak for the men’s health and wellbeing sessions; Tim Pullen Wolli Creek Preservation Society bush guide; Bebi Zekirovski photographer; Marjorie Lewis-Jones media writer for the stories; Bayside Council for launching and running the exhibition in six libraries; and ‘all the brave participants who migrated to a new life’.
The portraits and stories of new beginnings will be projected in six libraries in Bayside, including Rockdale Library, Arncliffe, Bexley North, Eastgardens, San Souci and Mascot libraries, as well as the George Hanna Memorial Museum until August 31.
‘We hope this exhibition and these snapshots help to increase community awareness of the experiences, needs and services available for migrants and refugee men,’ Ms Shenton-Kaleido said.
‘So please visit your local library and read these amazing settlement stories of your local community.’
The Men’s Wellbeing Group will continue to meet on the first Wednesday of every month at the ADS office in Hurstville. To get involved contact Rishi Acharya on 9597 5455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A productive partnership between ADS, TAFE and The Kogarah Storehouse (TKS) has enabled 11 members of the Ukrainian community to enjoy a nine-week targeted English language program focused on employment and wellbeing.
Inna Gimelberg, Community Services Officer with ADS said, ‘Our aim was to
attract Ukrainian newcomers to participate in the program and to learn in a way that was fun and engaging and offered them opportunities for employment through “therapy-like” activities.
‘It was a joy to watch our participants acquire new skills and become more comfortable in conversing in English,’ she said. ‘They really flourished and their feedback was extremely positive.’
The nine-week program ran from May 12 to July 3 at TKS and included:
Weeks 1,2,3 – Beauty – self-care, makeup and making your own facial masks
Weeks 7, 8,9 – Horticulture/gardening and seed propagation
Ms Gimelberg said that during the beauty sessions, she loved watching the women learn from the professional TAFE NSW make-up teacher, Roslyn Howell or Roz, about “Smokey Eye” make-up application and techniques, daily make-up on young and mature skin, plus eyeliner and lash applications.
‘As the classes progressed, students used the makeup skills they’d picked up from Roz to bring about some very glamorous transformations of their classmates.’
Ms Gimelberg said that a highlight of the floristry sessions was seeing the women creating floral crowns guided by Nicole Pieterse-Anderson, a very talented floristry teacher from TAFE.
‘While they were making the crowns, the women shared tales about traditional Ukrainian flower wreaths, known as “vinoks”, which was fascinating – and their happiness in their achievements was quite contagious.’
Ms Gimelberg said that during the gardening sessions participants explored the world of Australian native plants with TAFE teacher, Ray, who showed them which plants to leave untouched and how to separate plants that had outgrown their pots.
‘Participants picked up a host of horticultural tips and terms from Ray – and given they also used native plants in their floristry with Nicole, they are now pretty conversant with banksias, emu grass, eucalyptus and other species!’
Settlement and Community Services Manager for ADS, Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, said ADS had run numerous partnership activities and courses with TAFE and TKS since members of the Ukrainian community started arriving in Australia after the war started in 2022.
‘ADS is committed to making the settlement journey as positive as possible for people who have fled the war in Ukraine. Our collaboration with TAFE and TKS is helping newly arrived Ukrainians to get the English education and employment information they need to contribute productively to Australian society, make a comfortable home here, and enjoy living in a land of peace.
‘What has delighted us about our Ukrainian newcomers is how they have already given back so much to the Australian community in so many ways. For example, on 31 March they cooked for more than 60 people during a Ukrainian community kitchen event at TKS, as well as several times for the TKS volunteers who sort the food parcels for distribution every Wednesday.
‘We do what we can to provide opportunities for empowerment and to ease the trauma of what is happening in their home country. Participation in these activities helps to build connection and resilience, and to feel joy in daily life here.’
Advance Diversity Services (ADS) has joined forces with local training and job service providers to host a free Careers & Employment Expo at The Kogarah Storehouse on August 31. In this Q&A, Kim Wan Chung, Senior Community Services Officer for ADS, talks about the event and why job seekers in the St George and Sutherland Shire area should visit and talk to the friendly stallholders and others involved.
Who should come to the Careers & Employment Expo and what will it offer them?
The expo is for job seekers of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including recently arrived migrants and humanitarian entrants, as well as any other job seekers who need assistance. The event will provide job seekers with links to employment and training providers and easy access to information and advice on their training and employment pathways all under one roof.
What jobs skills workshops will be offered at the expo?
We’re offering a variety of workshops, including:
Do’s and don’ts in a resume.
Recognition of overseas skills and qualifications.
How do you pitch?
Great free advice will be on offer in these workshops, which will be really helpful for people who are keen to gain employment. So, please come!
What other support and information about careers and employment will be available?
We’re providing a range of other support and information including:
Information Stalls – which cover employment services, English programs, vocational training courses, volunteering and settlement support program information, and information on community and settlement services.
Jobs Board– with job vacancies from a variety of organisations.
Help Desk/Qualification Hub– providing one-on-one advice on qualifications and
skills assessment, resumes, cover letters and interview tips.
What else can tempt people to visit the expo?
Once visitors have browsed the stalls, gathered information and talked to the experts there will also be a free morning tea and lunch for them to enjoy.
Who else has ADS joined forces with to host the expo?
The Careers & Employment Expo is an initiative of TAFE NSW and the St George Sutherland Shire Employment, Training and English Action Network, which comprises representatives of Advance Diversity Services, Asian Women at Work, Chinese Australian Services Society, Employment and Training Masters, Georges River Council, Gymea Community Aid and Information Service, MTC Australia, Redwoods Work Collaborative and TAFE St George College.
What are the details?
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2023,
Time: 9.45 am – 1.30 pm Venue: The Kogarah Storehouse, Cnr Kensington and Gray Streets, Kogarah
Eden Miles worked three days a week, from February to July, 2023, during her student placement with Advance Diversity Services (ADS). She says she being part of many experiences helped her gain a wealth of knowledge about working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and accessing the services that are available to support them.
What drew you to do your student placement with ADS?
I wanted to do my student placement with ADS to understand the experiences and challenges newly arrived migrants and refugees face during their settlement journey in Australia. Prior to this placement I had little experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and little knowledge about the services that were available to support them.
What are you studying and where? And how has your personal history and/or your cultural background informed your work with ADS?
I am currently studying my Bachelor of Social Work at Wollongong University. Having a background in early childhood education, allowed me to come into this placement with a transferable skill set. I feel this background provided me with the ability to work in a team environment, identify strengths and find solutions.
What ADS programs have you assisted with and how have you been encouraged to apply your studies and/or expand your skills in your role?
While on placement at ADS, I have worked in the Settlement and Community Team. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of many different programs and events. I assisted with the multicultural conversational English classes each Monday, assisted at community sessions and events and I was also primarily involved in ADS’s Specialised and Intensive Services with individual case management.
What has been the most challenging work you have done with ADS during your time as a student on placement?
It was difficult at times to hear the trauma clients have undergone in their country of origin and during their settlement journey in Australia.
What strengths have you brought to your placement?
The strengths I brought to my placement involved active listening and my willingness to engage. This has allowed me to be a part of many experiences and gain a wealth of knowledge.
What has been your proudest moment, greatest achievement, deepest connection in your time at ADS?
I could not pick one moment, but being a part of client successes has been amazing. This involves seeing clients access suitable housing, being approved for financial support and navigating complex systems such as accessing education, health and visa issues. Also, being a part of the different workshops and events, which bring such joy to the community.
‘Be You With Us’ is ADS’s tagline, and it reflects the organisation’s commitment to welcoming and accepting everyone of all ages, gender, culture, sexuality, and religious beliefs. How have you been encouraged to ‘Be You With Us’ during your time with ADS?
I was always encouraged to be myself, share my thoughts and ideas. From the beginning I was made to feel like I was a part of the team.
What more should the Australian Government be doing to welcome migrants and refugees and to ensure they find the support they need to adjust quickly and well to life in Australia?
The Australian Government should allocate more funding into settlement and community services to ensure the continuation of adequate support and additional services can be offered for all migrants and refugees to improve their individual wellbeing and community engagement.
What is your ultimate goal and how has the work you’ve done with ADS equipped you for what you would like to do next?
I am unsure of my ultimate goal at this point in my journey, however my experience at ADS has allowed me to develop knowledge and skills that have equipped me for my social work career. During this time, I have enhanced my cultural understanding, inclusive practice and interpersonal skills which will be valuable for my future.
Please finish this sentence: I love ADS because … of the extremely supportive team and their passion to build and connect culture and community.
Advance Diversity Services (ADS) is playing a pivotal role in equipping community service providers and their clients in the region to understand the upcoming referendum about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
‘With such a high proportion of people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds in the St George and Sutherland region, we’re keen to ensure people really understand what the Voice to Parliament involves and how they can participate knowledgeably in the referendum,’ said Manager, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services, Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido.
‘A powerful first step is to acquaint people with the history of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its key message to ask Australians to support meaningful constitutional recognition through providing a First Nations’ voice in parliament.’
Ms Shenton-Kaleido said she and ADS Community Development Officer Shyama Sri had attended Walking Together training run by Youth Off the Streets in March.
‘The training aims to give people from all cultural backgrounds the tools they need to walk with First Nations Australians in unity and it boosted our capacity and confidence,’ she said.
‘Next we invited Bridget Cama to speak about the Uluru statement and the referendum at a full ADS team meeting on April 4.
‘Ms Cama is a Wiradjuri Pasifika Fijian woman, Co-Chair of the Uluru Youth Dialogue, an associate of the Indigenous Law Centre at UNSW and legal support to the Uluru Dialogue.
‘Bridget’s session with staff was so informative and engaging the Leadership team approached the ADS board to endorse the We Support the Uluru Statement tag, in all our email signatures.’
The Uluru Statement from the Heart was a grassroots community process – the culmination of 13 regional dialogues held across Australia on the question of constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and issued to the Australian public on May 25, 2017. It is available in 82 different languages.
ADS is working with The Uluru Dialogue to get a variety of resources and information about the referendum translated into international languages – with Greek, Macedonian, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Maltese, Cantonese and Mandarin high on the list.
ADS also hopes to produce a simple Uluru Dialogue presentation which incorporates the referendum question to be voted on, and then to have it translated, which will mean the ADS Aged Care and Settlement teams can use it when talking with their community groups.
Another way ADS has opened up discussion about Indigenous issues and cultural knowledge has been through holding Indigenous Bush Tucker Tours for new arrivals on Harmony Day in March and during Refugee Week in June.
On March 22, guided by the Sutherland Shire Council’s Aboriginal Heritage Officer, clients from ADS and Gymea Aid and Information Service walked through the Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve in Kareela and were introduced to Aboriginal food and different medicinal plants. A second walk, on June 23, was booked to capacity.
‘These tours give our new arrivals and our other clients insight into the oldest continuing living culture in the world,’ said Ms Shenton-Kaleido. ‘They also offer a glimpse of the richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia, which is something we should all take pride in.’
Forum to equip community sector workers
ADS is part of the Working Together Forum, which is offering a free workshop at TAFE NSW St George on June 29 to help equip sector workers with information about the referendum process and how to incorporate this information into their service delivery.
‘We’ve invited Bridget Cama to present and also to facilitate a short professional development activity for the audience of service providers based in the Sutherland Shire and St George areas working with CALD and newly arrived migrants who are eligible to vote,’ said Ms Shenton-Kaleido.
‘We organised this forum to help people inform themselves about the Uluru Statement and what it asks of our nation and also to create respectful spaces for talking about the impact a First Nations Voice will make.’
Ms Shenton-Kaleido said some important facts about the referendum and the Voice include:
The question to be put to the Australian people at the 2023 referendum will be: ‘A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?’
The referendum requires a majority of votes in a majority of Australian states to succeed. If the vote is successful, Parliament will then design the Voice via legislation.
We are not voting on a particular model – we are voting on the principle that Indigenous Australians should be able to provide advice to the government.
The Parliament will decide the structure and composition after a successful referendum. This is normal procedure for referendums.
A constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice could be re-shaped but not abolished.
Ms Shenton-Kaleido also said, ‘The Uluru Statement is an invitation given by First Nations people to the people of Australia and a chance for our nation to confront the truth of our past and present, and make way for justice.
‘A constitutionally enshrined Voice will shape and guide the relationship between First and Second peoples in this country by enabling people to have a say in the decisions that impact our communities.’
Want to know more about the referendum and Uluru Statement the Heart?