Grants assist ADS to foster inclusion during Sydney WorldPride

Grants assist ADS to foster inclusion during Sydney WorldPride

Advance Diversity Services (ADS) will host a suite of activities during Sydney WorldPride 2023 to promote LGBTIQA awareness and inclusion in the Georges River region.

Sydney WorldPride runs from February 17 to March 5, 2023, and is the largest global event to be held in NSW since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The festival offers more than 300 events, celebrates Australia’s diverse LGBTIQA community, and includes the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on February 25.

A grant from Georges River Council has enabled ADS to collaborate with LGBTIQA organisations across the area to offer three inclusion-building activities during the festival.

They are:

  • An LGBTIQA movie screening at Hurstville Events Cinema.
  • An ACON-run Inclusive Practice Training Workshop for local services on the needs of LGBTIQA people.
  • An LGBTIQA Speakers Panel.

‘There is no better time for us to be building community acceptance of diversity and LGBTIQA inclusion than during Sydney WorldPride,’ said Anthony Scerri, Manager, Settlement and Community Services at ADS.

‘We know the impact of exclusion is profound for people who are LGBTIQA and even more so for those from CALD backgrounds, leading to high rates of mental health issues and suicide.

‘The events we’ve planned during Sydney WorldPride aim to foster an inclusive community that embraces and celebrates LGBTIQA people and communities and promotes their participation and wellbeing.’

Mr Scerri said the WorldPride festival theme GATHER DREAM AMPLIFY had inspired ADS and its LGBTIQA Working Party to build on their work to:

  • Increase community acceptance and celebration of sexual diversity,
  • Strengthen the capability of local services for inclusive service delivery, and
  • Foster positive community engagement and dialogue on inclusivity and diversity.

‘Ultimately, we want to create a more connected, welcoming and inclusive community that reduces the isolation, loneliness and exclusion for LGBTIQA people,’ he said.

‘The events we’re offering in early 2023 should take us closer to achieving this.’

Mr Scerri said the LGBTIQA Speakers Panel – featuring presenters from culturally, gender diverse backgrounds – would generate dialogue, spark ideas for collaboration and advance understanding of the experiences of the LGBTIQA community.

The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District HIV Programs Unit had committed to $5,000 towards this project, he said.

ADS will host the panel in collaboration with ADS’s LGBTIQA Working Party which includes Kogarah Community Services, ACON, South East Sydney Local Area Health (SESLHD) HIV Programs Unit, Australia-New Zealand Tongzhi Rainbow Alliance.

‘It’s always important to be tackling non-inclusive attitudes towards LGBTIQA people but it feels even more vital after a crime like the mass shooting in an LGBTIQA night club in Colorado Springs on November 19,’ Mr Scerri said.

‘The panel, the film screening and the training will augment our existing community education efforts and open up more opportunities for dialogue to promote greater inclusion and ensure LGBTIQA people feel safe and secure in our region.’

Sydney World Pride – Human Progress Pride Flag at the Sydney Opera House.
Credit: Daniel Boud


Follow ADS on Facebook for updates and more details about ADS’s Sydney WorldPride events.

Migrant Information Day highlights contribution of Ukrainian new arrivals

Migrant Information Day highlights contribution of Ukrainian new arrivals

Migrant Information Day (MID) 2022 will be unique in highlighting the contributions of Ukrainian new arrivals who have settled in the local area over the past eight months.

‘The Bayside and Sutherland Shire LGAs make up the top settlement locations of the Ukrainian nationals that have arrived here since April,’ said Anthony Scerri, Manager, Settlement and Community Services at Advance Diversity Services (ADS).

‘This year’s MID will feature the distinctive crafts, artwork and food of ADS’s Ukrainian clients,’ he said.

More than 500 locals and 40 stallholders will celebrate MID at Rockdale Town Hall on Wednesday, October 26, from 10 am to 2 pm.

This free event – which returns ‘face-to-face’ after several years of virtual offerings – gives newly arrived migrants in the region the opportunity to gain information about health, government, education, employment, youth, community and CALD-specific services.

Mr Scerri said MID was an opportunity for new arrivals and migrants to connect with service providers and the community – regardless of what stage they were on in their settlement journey.

‘This year it is especially important as we welcome Ukrainian new arrivals who have settled in our community and are very much in the early stages of their settlement journey; learning English, registering with essential services and finding out about life in Australia.

‘Although the settlement journey can be difficult for many, there is a real sense of resiliency and also wanting to give back to the community among the Ukrainian new arrivals. For them, MID will be a great opportunity not only to find out about supports available to them but also to share their skills and contributions through artwork, food and jewellery stalls.’

A warm welcome and multilingual resources

MID has been an annual event in St George for more than 20 years and, in 2022, participants can enjoy:

  • A free and delicious BBQ cooked by the Lions Club of Lugarno.
  • Friendly chats with service providers and organisations in the local community, including TAFE NSW, Mission Australia, Royal Life Saving, the NSW Ombudsman, Sydney Water, Max Employment, Gymea Community Aid and Information Service, Headspace Hurstville and many others. 
  • Cultural performances from local artists – with Chinese and Indigenous dancers expected to be highlights.
  • A range of guest speakers, including the Mayor of Bayside Council – Dr Christina Curry, the Hon. Linda Burney MP (via pre-recorded video), Steven Kamper MP, the Hon. Mark Coure MP, and Joseph La Posta, CEO of Multicultural NSW.

Multilingual information will be available from government and non-government organisations, and bilingual workers will be on hand to provide further language assistance in Nepali, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Bengali and Ukrainian.

‘Gathering the many services available in one place to easily share information with newly arrived migrants and refugees is a fantastic way to support those settling in our community,’ said Mr Scerri. ‘We’re excited to welcome new arrivals to this face-to-face event and we hope they make connections, have fun, and feel a sense of belonging in Australian society.’


Cultural performances from local artists will feature alongside information stalls, speakers and the distinctive crafts, artwork and food of Ukrainian new arrivals. 

MID 2022 showcases the cultural diversity of the St George region and is financially supported by a grant from Multicultural NSW – Stronger Together Grants Program and a range of organisations including: ADS, St George Community Transport, Georges River Council and South Eastern Sydney Local Health District – Priority Populations Unit. Bayside Council is host council for the event and has offered significant in-kind support. 

Organising committee members include: Divesh Naryan – Settlement Services International, Sherie Skaines – Bayside Council, Marguerite Elson – Georges River Council, and Ronnie Wang – Asian Women at Work, and other ADS staff.

ADS celebrates Mrs Georgia Sioris’s 100th birthday

ADS celebrates Mrs Georgia Sioris’s 100th birthday

Our Greek Seniors Social Group and staff at ADS were very excited to celebrate the 100th birthday of Mrs Georgia Sioris in August.

Mrs Sioris has been attending the Multicultural Seniors Social group for over 20 years at ADS’s Bexley Centre.

Mrs Sioris is keeping extremely well at 100: socialising, going on bus trips and participating in all ADS’s Social Support Group indoor and outdoor activities, which includes visiting the Greek Orthodox Church and attending different social events and clubs.

She even performed a traditional Greek dance at home at her birthday party!

Mrs Sioris was born in 1922 in the Peloponnese region of Greece and migrated to Australia. She lived through three wars and was escaping from poverty and war with her three young children when she sailed to Australia on a warship.

Mrs Sioris has three children, nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

She lives with her loving and caring extended family, children and grandchildren in the same house where she still does housework and cooks meals. She also works in her large vegetable patch in the backyard and uses her own produce for cooking. In summer she prepares big batches of a traditional Mediterranean wheat product called ‘Trahana’, which she uses in her winter cooking.

Mrs Sioris is very conscious of her health and has an extremely positive mindset, which she believes helps her to better recover from illnesses and injuries, including Covid and falls.

Her secret recipe for longevity and great health is:

1. Being surrounded by and living in close proximity with loving and caring extended family.

2. Keeping active, growing her own vegetables and making her own food from scratch, including baking her own bread. (Her advice is ‘Do not eat out in restaurants because you don’t know what is in the food!’)

3. Sitting out in the sun in her backyard for a minimum of one to two hours a day when the sun is out, which gives her plenty of vitamin D to keep her immune system and bones strong.

4. Staying positive: Mrs Sioris thinks stress is one of the biggest killers, and she advises not to get upset even over the most difficult life situations, and also to be grateful for family and health and all the good things in life.

5. Using lots of olive oil imported from Greece that is prepared from fresh olives without any chemicals and uses the first cold press.

6. Drinking one glass of red wine every evening.

ADS CEO Antoinette Chow congratulated the centenarian on reaching such a great milestone and thanked her for continuing to be such a vital part of ADS’s Greek Seniors Social Group.

‘Mrs Soiris is an inspiration,’ Ms Chow said. ‘And we are so glad to see her enjoying life at 100. We also really love having her in our seniors social group.’

ADS’s Greek Seniors Social Group with Mrs Georgia Sioris (centre front) at her 100th birthday celebrations
Sunnah of a Happy Family inspires Muslim community

Sunnah of a Happy Family inspires Muslim community

Attentiveness, care, appreciation and praise are central to a happy home, marriage and family and were modelled by the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) throughout his life. Sharing the load of household tasks and child-rearing responsibilities is also pivotal to harmonious relationships.

These are some of the central messages conveyed by Mufti Zeeyad Ahmed Ravat, Founder and Director at Daarul Arqam Australia, which left a lasting impression for the 100 attendees of the Sunnah of a Happy Family Workshop on Sunday June 10.

Held at the Red Rose Function Centre in Rockdale and organised by Advance Diversity Services (ADS), the event attracted Muslims of all ages.

Women at the Sunnah of a Happy Family Workshop organised by ADS on Sunday June 10.

The workshop encouraged respectful relationships and positive attitudes and behaviours among spouses and family members, highlighting the importance of early intervention in preventing family violence. It also provided the participants with an opportunity to address their concerns including the challenges of negative gender attitudes and cultural practices. 

Participants concerned about conflict resolution, parenting, spousal communication, gender roles and expectations in a migration context received thoughtful responses from Mufti Zeeyad Ahmed Ravat who also peppered his speech with examples and humour.

‘I want to highlight the romance of the prophet; the prophet as a romantic person,’ said Mufti Zeeyad Ahmed Ravat

‘There is no-one more romantic to his family than the prophet, and he would not accept an invitation unless his wife was invited with him.

‘His wife Aisha also told people, “He would look for the place where I put my lips and drink from that spot.’

The prophet treated people respectfully and fairly, the Mufti said.

‘He had hundreds who would jump at his command but instead he said, “While you cook and you clean, I will go and gather the wood for the fire.’

The workshop focused on the positive Islamic value system based on the role model and practices or ‘sunnah’ of the Prophet Mohammad. In Islam, the sunnah – also spelled sunna (Arabic: سنة) – is an ultimate guide for leading an ethical, productive and happy life.

‘As Muslims, we believe the life of the Prophet Mohammad is an example for generation after generation to follow,’ said Tasneem Rasheed, the Bangladeshi worker with ADS. ‘He really provided the best role model for how to live in a pure, humble and happy way, with the worship of Allah central to our purpose.

‘The workshop was a good reminder that equality, sharing generously and helping others are pivotal to our faith and that living these values can help our families and communities to be peaceful and happy.

‘All participants told me they found the event fun and inspiring, adding“Thank you so much for putting on this event. Please organise more events. We loved it!”’

Magdaline Shenton Kaleido Team Leader, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services for ADS, said, “Coming out of lockdown to have such a big, catered, family event with such great messaging was wonderful for everyone. 

“There was appreciation all round for getting together again after so long with no face-to-face group events. ‘Some women expressed the need for the words to become deeds: “Great talk, now for action!”

ADS smooths the transition for Ukrainians and other new arrivals

ADS smooths the transition for Ukrainians and other new arrivals

New arrivals who have fled the war in Ukraine and other conflicts face a raft of uncertainties as they settle in Australia but Advance Diversity Service (ADS) has joined forces with community and settlement services to smooth their transition.

‘Empowering refugee youth and children, leads to empowering the whole family,’ said Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido Team Leader, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services for ADS.

‘Our recent joint activities, which have focused on connecting young people to local services so that they can access them independently, have definitely had this flow-on effect, which is marvellous.’

On June 10, ADS worked with Kogarah IEC (Intensive English College) and 3Bridges Community to organise a visit to 3Bridges Youth Zone Penshurst. Over 80 students from a range of cultural backgrounds (including the Ukraine) were involved in the activities, getting to know the services on offer that they can access.

ADS worked with Kogarah Intensive English Centre and 3Bridges Community to organise a visit to 3Bridges Youth Zone Penshurst on June 10. Over 80 students were involved in the activities.

The settlement team at ADS were also introduced to the Ukrainians, the newest emerging refugee community arriving in Australia, through the KIEC when it invited a number of services including ADS to address the parents of the young people attending the school.

Key speakers from RACS (Refugee and Casework Services – for visa options and pathways) Settlement Services International (SSI – for humanitarian settlement case management support), TAFE, Refugee Health and STARTTS provided a holistic view of support services people could access immediately.

Ms Shenton-Kaleido said, ‘Refugees, like all migrants, learn and get connected through their children, who often become the language and cultural guides for their parents to help navigate all the new systems.

‘We build bridges so young people can find their own way – which in turn fosters links with families that can help them settle more easily.’

One such bridge was built on June 24 when ADS worked with Kogarah Intensive English Centre (KIEC) to organise an outing to Arncliffe Youth Centre to help students socialise, make new friends, and learn how to access services.

Refugee Week builds connections

Ms Shenton-Kaleido said ADS had partnered in several Refugee Week events, which provided excellent opportunities to connect with newly arrived young people and their families.

On June 21, ADS and Sydney Multicultural Community Services spoke at a Bayside Council event about the services and supports available to refugees settling in the area. The following day, ADS and the council offered an informative and engaging session for recently arrived refugees, including new Ukrainian arrivals, which incorporated an interactive tour of Rockdale Library and the council chambers.

Also, on June 22, ADS teamed up with Georges River Council at Hurstville Library to offer 20 students from the KIEC and eight Ukrainian newcomers the chance to tour the library and hear about the settlement services available to new arrivals.

ADS teamed up with Georges River Council at Hurstville Library to offer 20 students from the KIEC and eight Ukrainian newcomers the chance to tour the library and hear about the settlement services available to new arrivals.

‘I spoke about the SETS program and how this helps newcomers understand the new systems they have to navigate in Australia,’ Ms Shenton-Kaleido said. ‘The students took home the SETS flyers for their parents. There were Ukrainian, Thai, Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese speakers in the student group – some of whom were international students, humanitarian entrants or here on other migrant visas.’

Feedback from the Ukrainian adults who attended the session was insightful.

‘The adults were very interested in hearing about our program and how we could work with this newest emerging community, to support community development, and co-design workshops and information sessions that would benefit them,’ Ms Shenton-Kaleido said,

‘Because the visa most of these people are on here is a new visa for the Ukrainians, their family and friends do not really know how to advise them, nor understand what they can access at any part of their settlement journey.’

Ms Shenton-Kaleido said all of the Ukrainians she’d spoken with felt they were living in a very precarious situation.

‘Many are women and children, missing and worrying about loved ones left behind in an active conflict zone. Some have come as couples with children.

‘One family asked, “What will happen after three years? Is there a permanent pathway to citizenship?”’

Additionally, she said, the Ukrainians wanted to work, become financially independent and get on with their lives but knew nothing about what was available to them or how the systems worked here. They asked numerous questions about Centrelink and Special Benefits, Medicare, TAFE, hospitals, work, renting, tax, superannuation and how to get their driver’s licence.

‘It is very overwhelming to flee conflict, move from place to place, leave everything you have behind and arrive in unknown circumstances in a new country, on the other side of the world, so far away from loved ones,’ Ms Shenton-Kaleido said.

‘Many feel they’re living in a completely different world where everything is upside down – “the moon is upside down, day is night, night is day”. They have to plan when to make phone calls to loved ones. It’s all so different.

‘They also have difficulty renting properties because they have no history here, and agents think they will just up and leave when the war ends … but when will the war end?

‘When I asked one woman how she liked Australia, she said, “Australia is a beautiful country and in any other circumstances, I would be able to enjoy it, but right now I just worry about my family, my country.”’


For more information about ADS’s Settlement Services see

Network delivers for Refugees and Migrants making their home in NSW

Network delivers for Refugees and Migrants making their home in NSW

NSW Settlement Partnership, a dynamic network of leading organisations, led by Settlement Services International (SSI), is celebrating seven years of supporting refugees and migrants to settle in Australia.

The network includes 21 organisations who work together to empower refugees and migrants to thrive independently, socially and financially in their new home.

It has delivered staggering results since its inception in 2015. Collectively, the partnership has supported 185,886 clients via 546,628 instances of service across 88 Local Government Areas. Clients from 177 client countries/cultures speaking over 160 ethnic languages have been assisted on their journey to settlement.

Consortia members include the leading migrant resource centres (MRCs), multicultural services and ethno-specific agencies. Together they deliver settlement services under the Department of Home Affairs’ Settlement Engagement and Transition Support Program (SETS).

Violet Roumeliotis, CEO, SSI, says the partnership is a driving force for the SETS Program with its goals front-of-mind for each of the organisations.

“We are incredibly powerful together, leveraging grassroots experience and the power of a large network. Together, we represent the leading minds in the settlement sector who are all working to achieve mutual goals – the success and independence of refugees and migrants.

“The purpose of the network is to simplify the process of government-funded initiatives, by providing one port of engagement, making us a trusted and reliable government partner.

“We are very proud of our results working in and amongst complex and multi-faceted issues. NSW Settlement Partnership has a reported 91.5% positive satisfaction outcome and a 91.8% overall positive goal outcome,” said Roumeliotis.

Antoinette Chow, CEO of Advance Diversity Services, says ADS is proud to have been part of the NSW Settlement Partnership since its inception because the network enables leaders in the settlement sector to exchange skills and information and to speak with one voice.

‘Ultimately, the network strengthens each of the organisations involved to provide refugees and migrants with a smooth an empowering path to settlement in Australia. Advocating on settlement issues together multiplies our effect.’ 

The partnership offers an innovative service delivery model to address the diverse range of needs of clients, community and government. The NSW Settlement Partnership offers equitable participation in Australian society, promoting social cohesion and productive diversity.

The NSW Settlement Partnership delivers:

  • Professional support and training to the settlement workforce
  • Organisational and governance support
  • Exchange of information, expertise and experience
  • Place-based support and volunteer opportunities
  • Advocacy as one for the settlement sector

Find out more about the NSW Settlement Partnership here.