A flourishing Japanese language school and an active Japanese arts and culture club are two fruits of a relationship formed by Advance Diversity Services (ADS) just two-and-a-half years ago in a local playgroup.
‘One of our social work students from a Japanese background helped us form the connection with the Japanese Playgroup in Oatley,’ explains Jenny Tang Community Development Officer for ADS’s Settlement and Community Services Program. ‘Our relationship with the Japanese community in our region has since gone from strength to strength.’
From the playgroup connection, ADS met with Japanese community leaders and members to identify community needs and this led to a successful Bayside Council community grant application.
This two-part funding offered an equipment grant to start up a Japanese language school in the St George area (funding the purchase of books, a printer and other materials); and also a community grant to start the Japanese Arts and Cultural Club (contributing costs towards the venue, facilitators, and materials).
Photo: The Japanese Language School in was officially opened in Kyeemagh on January 29, 2020 and has since a satellite school for high school students in Rockdale.
‘Next, we set up meetings with the Department of Education and Japanese community leaders to work towards formalising the Japanese language school with the Department’s Community Languages Schools,’ says Ms Tang.
‘The group is now officially registered with the Department with more than 50 students attending.’
Ms Tang says the Bayside Japanese School, launched in January 2020, operates at Kyeemagh Public School and runs weekly during school terms. A satellite school for high school students has also recently commenced in Rockdale.
‘These are places where children and young people from Japanese and other backgrounds can learn Japanese in a safe and supportive environment. This strengthens their cultural identity and ensures multilingual skills are valued and maintained. It’s a great initiative.’
The Japanese Arts and Culture Club (JACC) began in mid-2019 and has since offered a range of enjoyable activities including origami, kimono dressing, Japanese tea ceremony, aizome (Japanese indigo ink dye), calligraphy, Sanshin (a traditional instrument), and traditional dance.
Photo: Participants enjoy a Japanese tea ceremony at the Japanese Arts and Culture Club, which is just one of many enjoyable activities the club offers.
‘The club’s sessions have been fun for all ages,’ says Mika Fukuta from the JACC and language school, ‘and they’ve really brought the emerging Japanese community in Rockdale together. The Japanese cultural festival – which the JACC helped organise at Kyeemagh Public School in February 2020 – was a special highlight.’
The JACC originally targeted adult community members, but later changed to working with younger children and students. The club has more recently been run as an addition to the Japanese Language School classes, to make better use of venue funds and existing student base.
Both the language school and the JACC turned to using online methods during COVID-19 restrictions. While students and teachers are now more familiar with and better equipped for online learning – and can take a flexible approach in the future – they are relishing their in-person sessions.
‘The Japanese community in our region is growing,’ says Ms Tang, ‘and we’re proud of our initiatives to support its members. We estimate that more than 350 people from the community have benefited from these two projects to date, which I think is a great effort!’
Ms Fukuta agrees the two projects have yielded an array of benefits, as do the other JACC and language school organisers, Mrs Mami Ayres, Mrs Emiri Kobayashi, and Mrs Sachie Gamo.
‘We’ve seen increased knowledge about and interest in Japanese culture and language, employment opportunities for language teachers and local artists, greater community cohesion and sense of belonging, and better engagement with local services.
Advance Diversity Services (ADS) has been chosen as an HWEI Gold Tier provider for the second year running in the Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards announced on May 28.
The 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.
Chief Executive Officer, Antoinette Chow, said it was an honour to receive the award two years in a row – an acknowledgment which paid tribute to ADS’ sustained work in fostering and celebrating LGBTQ inclusion.
‘Happily, it means our inclusion campaign ‘BE YOU WITH US – You belong, we all belong’ is now fully embedded and that we’re steadily improving access and equity for people who identify with a diverse gender and/or sexuality.
‘As we grow further as an inclusive organisation, we hope to be a lighthouse to other CALD providers.’
Initiatives taken since ADS received the Gold award in 2020 have included:
Partnering with Queer Screen to host a community screening of the Australian premiere of Goodbye Mother (a Vietnamese coming out story) on February 24 as part of the 28th Mardi Gras Film Festival.
Producing and launching Pride in My Faith – a video which offers insights into the struggles faced by LGBTIQA+ people of faith from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds as they try to reconcile their faith, culture and queer identity, and to find service providers that understand the complexity of their predicament.
Launching a research project with the University of Wollongong (UOW) to understand gaps in the knowledge and skills of diversity service workers when servicing culturally diverse LGBTIQ+ communities in the context of COVID-19 with the ultimate aim of improving service provision.
Additionally, Ms Chow said, ADS’ Champions program supports ADS LGBTIQA+ staff and client-based service delivery, and its LGBTIQA+ Working Group, assists ADS to improve access and equity.
‘The important thing here is to ensure people from CALD LGBTIQ+ communities receive the services they need and feel welcome and included. We know from our research that these people often struggle, and sometimes it’s so severe that their lives are at stake, so it’s not enough to give these matters lip service.
Ms Chow commended the Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (NADA), the peak organisation for non-government alcohol and other drugs services in NSW who also received a Gold Tier provider award in 2021.
‘We’re in good company receiving gold,’ she said, ‘and inspired by the efforts of other non-profits like NADA who are making a difference.’
ADS is a proud member of ACON’s Pride in Health + Wellbeing, a national program that provides support, training and guidance in LGBTI inclusive service delivery. It also administers the HWEI as part of Pride Inclusion Programs, a suite of social inclusion initiatives run by Australia’s leading LGBTI health organisation, ACON.
Launched in 2019, the HWEI is a benchmarking tool which provides health and wellbeing organisations the opportunity to assess, measure and improve their practices to better include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ) people in their services.
The information gleaned from organisations allows the HWEI to benchmark LGBT inclusive service delivery identify, map any gaps that exist, and allow for continuous quality improvements to be made. The knowledge gained from the HWEI will result in better experiences of LGBTIQ people when accessing health and human services across Australia.
Caption: ADS CEO Antoinette Chow and Senior Manager, Aged and Disability Services, Dimi Vourliotis at the Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards ceremony on May 28 where ADS was chosen HWEI Gold Tier provider for the second year running.
Advance Diversity Services has played a pivotal role in producing six easy-to-read, pocket-sized brochures about coercive control released in May to coincide with Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.
The launch of the brochures in six languages – English, Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Nepali, Thai, and Bengali – also coincided with Jess Hill’s See what you made me do, a three-part series exploring the scourge of domestic violence in Australia, which premiered on SBS, NITV and SBS On Demand.
ADS Team Leader, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services, Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido is a member of the St George Domestic Violence (DV) Committee and served on the committee’s sub-working group to develop the brochures. She said: ‘Coercive control is an overwhelmingly common experience in abusive relationships, and has been found to be a significant factor in most deaths resulting from domestic violence. ‘Yet most people in the community don’t know about coercive control or don’t understand how it might manifest.
‘The St George DV Committee wanted to help people to understand how you can still be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship even where there is no physical violence. And that’s why we produced the brochures – in English and five community languages.’ Ms Shenton-Kaleido said ADS’s bicultural officers proofread and amended translations from the English version of the brochure before printing, which was a tremendous help with the project. She also pointed out that the brochures provide a healthy relationship checklist as well as information about support services available in the St George region.
The checklist asks if there is someone in your life who:
Makes you feel afraid?
Controls what you do and say?
Puts you down or embarrasses you?
Accuses you of flirting and cheating?
Pressures or forces you to do sexual things?
Threatens to hurt you, themselves, friends and family?
Constantly checks your phone?
Limits your access to money?
‘Any of these actions may be signs of coercive control or abuse,’ Ms Shenton-Kaleido said. ‘Coercive control is an abusive behaviour used to cause fear and/or control a person or situation. ‘This type of domestic violence is known as domestic abuse and can go undetected in intimate partner relationships for years.’
If not recognised, controlling behaviours like gaslighting, stalking and technological abuse can escalate to physical, life-threatening violence, Ms Shenton-Kaleido said, so people should seek advice and support even if they’re unsure this is what they’re experiencing. ‘Our aim in launching A Pocket Guide to Relationships, Domestic Abuse and Coercive Control is to help people find the support they need before the violence escalates and to show that support is available in the community to help them build healthier relationships.’
If you are worried about domestic violence, call the 24 hour Domestic Violence Hotline on: 1800 656 463. Always call the Police on 000 if you are in danger. For more information on Domestic Violence please visit: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/domestic-violence
Caption: Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido and other ADS staff were pivotal in helping to produce six easy-to-read, pocket-sized brochures about coercive control released in May.
Radhika Murali did her student work placement with Advance Diversity Services (ADS) from February to May 2021. She says her experience improved her knowledge of working in diverse communities and helped her to feel more comfortable when facing challenging situations. She’s also learnt about various health programs in which she could offer her expertise as she heads into the sector to find employment.
What drew you to volunteer and/or to do your student placement with ADS?
I was interested in doing my work placement with ADS since I found there were a wide range of services provided by this organisation which were mainly CALD, refugee and migrant related. Being a migrant myself I wanted to see what different opportunities and services can be provided to people to enable them to be successful in their job.
What are you studying and where? And how has your personal history and/or your cultural background informed your work with ADS?
I am studying with TAFE St George. I am currently completing my Diploma in Community Services. I feel I could relate well with people and people felt connected to me since most of my clients came from different cultural backgrounds and were migrants like me. I have a background in health so I felt that I understood people’s problems and fears even before they spoke to me.
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?
I assisted both temporary and permanent visa holders in the emergency relief programs during Covid-19, and learnt about the different visa and eligibility criteria for each of the programs. My studies in TAFE helped me deal with a diverse range of problems like confidentiality, dealing with difficult clients, learning about different social structures and practising equality among clients.
What has been the most challenging work you have done with ADS during your time as a volunteer / student?
The most challenging work I have done with ADS would be dealing with the fact that I couldn’t do more with clients who didn’t have a working visa. It was like they are caught in a loophole and have limited options due to their visa conditions.
What strengths have you brought to your placement?
I always felt that no work was difficult and everything can be learnt. This helped me acquire new skills with Advanced Diversity Services.
What has been your proudest moment, greatest achievement, deepest connection in your time at ADS?
I felt happy when one of my clients, Mrs G, who was suffering from cancer, was not only able to get financial relief but also got support from Moving Forward for household amenities. She was also was in the process of getting her housing application done by them.
‘Be You With Us’ is ADS’ 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?
For the first time I felt I was treated like a ‘normal person’ in my workplace. No one judged me on my colour or accent. No one remarked, ‘Oh you speak English’. I could ‘be me’ and not feel different among others.
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?
I would suggest the government give training to people who are working in different sectors to be more accepting of migrants. To realise that they are knowledgeable and have years of experience, which can be put into good use for the community. At the same time, it should give some information to migrants to help them to adjust in their new country as many are not aware of the programs offered by different NGOs.
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?
My ultimate goal is to work in the health sector. I have learnt new things from ADS which have helped me improve my knowledge of working in diverse communities. I also learnt of the various health programs I could be part of. I was able to face challenging situations with ease and comfort due to training with ADS.
Please finish this sentence: I love ADS because …
I was given an opportunity to work in community services and finish my work placement. I worked with a team of people who were not only very encouraging but also guided me on the various paths I could take which could lead me to my goals. Special thanks to my team lead who was very welcoming and patient with me. I didn’t mind travelling one-and-a-half hours to come to work. When you have good leaders in your workplace the organisation will always succeed. I could say the same thing about ADS: everyone was passionate about their work and had genuine concern for people.
Around 60 ADS staff and volunteers glammed up for photoshoots with Sydney based graphic designer/photographer Lisa Napoli in ADS’s Hurstville and Bexley offices on April 6.
The aim was to yield images to illustrate how diverse, friendly and approachable ADS is as a service provider, and to support its message of inclusion, ‘BE YOU WITH US – You belong We all belong’.
The ADS Leadership Team is pleased participants had fun and laughed so much during the shoots and that ADS will soon have photos that can be used to promote its work via its website, social media platforms, print materials and other collateral.
Lisa Napoli was also delighted with how the day progressed and pleased that so many staff and volunteers chose to wear colours that reflected their culture.
‘I loved working with ADS on these shoots. It’s a fun team that has a serious commitment to diversity and inclusion.
‘I’m so happy my images will help to communicate this ethos, and show their warm welcome is genuine.’
Harmony Day is bringing cultural diversity home this year, with a trio of videos featuring three talented local chefs cooking food from their motherlands.
‘All people who migrate to Australia bring with them some of their own cultural and religious traditions, as well as taking on many new traditions,’ said Jenny Tang, Community Development Worker at Advance Diversity Services (ADS).
‘We wanted to share these videos with a wider audience to show how honouring the traditional recipes from people’s homelands can enrich our region and nation.’
Tastes from the Homeland showcases Thai, Nepalese and Bangla cuisines with each chef giving step-by-step instructions to guide people to cook their recipes at home.
The videos were produced by ADS and launched as part of the In Good Taste festival in February run by Georges River Council. They were also initially created to celebrate International Day of the Mother Language, on February 21.
Harmony Day on March 21 is an Australian Government initiative that acknowledges the contributions of multicultural communities to Australian society and promotes inclusiveness, diversity, respect and belonging.
Ms Tang said that pre-COVID the St George region had always celebrated the day with community festivals and local events with global food, music and traditional dress. In 2020, however, COVID restrictions meant events of this kind had to be cancelled.
‘To be super safe again this year we’ve decided to bring Harmony Day home – providing our wonderful Tastes from the Homeland resource on YouTube and giving everyone the chance to participate.’
The videos feature Thanyarat Khotdet preparing two types of Thai Green papaya salad, Suraj Pradhancooking up a warming plate of Nepalese momos and Nusrat Tanjina making a tasty Bangla Hilsa fish pulao. The chefs also converse with ADS community workers to help viewers understand where their dishes come from and also revealing local sources and substitutes for traditional ingredients.
Kay (Sineenat Khantaracha), Thai Community Worker for ADS, Rishi Acharya, Nepalese Community Worker for ADS, and Tasneem Rashid, Bangladeshi Community worker for ADS have all eagerly vouched for the tastiness of the food cooked by Thanyarat, Suraj and Nusrat, and confirmed that their recipes can easily be replicated at home.
The three chefs have all been in Australia for more than 10 years and continue to cherish their home traditions. Happily, they have also embraced the customs and cuisines of other nationalities, which form such a distinct and valuable part of our multicultural society and heritage.
‘Harmony Day is really about belonging – and working together,’ said Ms Tang. ‘Leaving no one behind.
‘With such a diverse culture we can all learn a different way of doing things. I’d encourage people to view these videos as a way of doing something differently, trying new recipes, and connecting with others in the community.’