Productive partnership yields learning and laughter for Ukrainian newcomers

Productive partnership yields learning and laughter for Ukrainian newcomers

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 4,5,6 – Floristry – tying bows, basic floral arrangements, using native flowers
  • 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.’

Why come to our free Careers & Employment Expo?

Why come to our free Careers & Employment Expo?

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

Cost: Free

Eden Miles: ‘Skills I’ve enhanced here will be valuable for my future’

Eden Miles: ‘Skills I’ve enhanced here will be valuable for my future’

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.

Eden Miles says her placement enhanced her cultural understanding, inclusive practice and interpersonal skills.

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.

Eden Miles (right) says she is grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of many different programs and events. 

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.

ADS is equipping people to understand the referendum and The Voice

ADS is equipping people to understand the referendum and The Voice

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?

See the statement here


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Workshop upskilled faith and culture Leaders to respond to Domestic and Family Violence

Workshop upskilled faith and culture Leaders to respond to Domestic and Family Violence

More than 50 Leaders representing faith and culture groups in the St George area have gained significant insights into how to help families and individuals impacted by Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) thanks to a recent workshop organised by Advance Diversity Services (ADS) in partnership with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ).

Community Leaders pledge their commitment to respond to DFV in their communities.

Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Officer with ADS, Fatima Sayed, said providing the latest and most relevant resources via the workshop was extremely important as it enabled Leaders to better support families impacted by DFV.

“In many cultures, Leaders have the trust and respect of the community and are often a first point of contact where there is a DFV incident.

“The specialist speakers at our forum gave Leaders information, guidance and contacts as well as an excellent take-home manual for appropriate referral pathways for families impacted by violence.”

Ms Sayed said the Responding to domestic and family violence Seminar for Religious and Community Leaders held at Rockdale Town Hall on May 4 had been comprehensive, interactive and accessible.

“It featured a case study, with a Law and Justice panel – made up of Legal Aid, NSW Police Force, DV HelpLine and Victims Services – giving specific and expert tips and information about how we could all respond.

“Presentations from Family Co, Barnardos, and ADS also provided information about the cycle of violence, impacts of exposure to DFV on children, coercive control, and how to access CALD community services.”

Ms Sayed said Leaders were offered the chance to make a declaration of their commitment to respond to DFV in their communities, with everyone pledging their support.

“Feedback from the workshop has also been great,” she added, “with Leaders saying they gained the knowledge and contacts they needed to feel more confident about their ability to respond to DFV appropriately and effectively.

“Likewise, for the women, children and some men who are the victims of DFV, knowing their trusted Leaders will support them safely and sympathetically is crucial to their ability to come forward.”

Ms Sayed praised the work of Delilah Shinko, Community Liaison Officer

Religious and community leaders with Delilah Shinko (centre) and ADS community officer Rishi Acharya (second from right).

Multicultural Policy and Engagement with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice, who had helped tailor the workshop to meet the needs of Leaders in the St George area.

“We are really grateful to Delilah and the DCJ for their ongoing commitment to keeping our leaders upskilled; supporting them to do all that they can to keep their communities safe and free from DFV.”

Since its inception in 2018, the DCJ has offered face-to-face seminars and online webinars to upskill Leaders from various religions and cultures across both regional and metro areas of NSW.

Its program for Leaders aims to provide:

  • Guidance and contacts for appropriate referral pathways for families impacted by violence.
  • Information relating to legal process after a DFV report is made.
  • An opportunity to upskill leaders with legal and service information and provide access to DFV resources.
  • An opportunity to share leaders’ experiences with the DCJ, and for the DCJ to work together with Leaders on addressing DFV across the community.
  • A connection with local services and linkages to peak DFV services inside and outside government.

The DCJ has further acknowledged ADS’s ongoing commitment to community education related to DFV with a recent Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence grant, which will help ADS to roll out a targeted program in the new financial year.

Ms Sayed said, “I’m really proud to have been chosen to take the lead on this project, which will use the grant to provide protection for victims and reduce the prevalence of DFV in our area and its CALD communities.

“The statistics are pretty grim – but I feel positive ADS can make a difference.”

Lauren from Interrelate (left) with Delilah from DCJ (centre) and Fatima Sayed from ADS. 


If you, or someone you know, is experiencing DFV, visit or contact ADS on 02 9597 5455 or

If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000

For 24/7 support, information and counselling call:

  • Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
  • NSW Domestic Violence line on 1800 656 463
  • Kids helpline on 1800 55 1800
  • Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978

Your donation to ADS’s DFV emergency financial assistance program enables us to support women to step towards their new lives – where a peaceful home is possible for them and their children. See

Conversational English classes are educational and empowering

Conversational English classes are educational and empowering

A keen cohort of migrant learners has been participating in Advance Diversity Services’ (ADS) English conversation classes for multicultural communities, and their improvement has been impressive.

Led by ADS volunteers Subhash and Ajita Rughani, the weekly classes have been fun, interactive, educational and empowering – with learners practising speaking and listening to build confidence in their English abilities.

Lessons have related to a wide range of practical topics that are helping learners to negotiate and enjoy everyday life in Australia. Topics have included:

  • Introductions and greetings, where they are from, where they live and how to ask about each other’s families.
  • Knowing, memorising and telling each other their addresses and phone numbers.
  • Learning how to contact emergency services, to dial 000, and what information should be provided when they do.
  • Identifying weather patterns and practising new sentences, like ‘How is the weather today?’ and ‘It is raining today, I need an umbrella.’

Times of the day, activities people can do, days, months, directions have also featured and led to some hands-on homework tasks like making a grocery list and practising skills while out at the shops by asking the workers, ‘I need to buy eggs’ and ‘How much does milk cost?’

In a recent class, everyone took turns to ask ‘How was your weekend?’ and then to explain what their own weekend had held. One creative learner turned the tables, teaching the class Tai Chi while he spoke about his weekend activities.

Team Leader, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services, Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, said it was satisfying to see the learners flourish as they practised conversation and consolidated language with each other. The classes also brought benefits to individuals and communities in the region which extended beyond their important role in English language acquisition.

‘Grandparents – especially Nepalese and Chinese grandparents – often migrate to Australia to look after grandchildren for their working kids,’ said Ms Shenton-Kaleido.

‘The English classes provide not only English – which few of the grandparents seem to have – but also combat loneliness, provide community, foster intercultural connection and offer participants lots of fun and laughter in their lessons.

‘This is especially true for those who can’t go to Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) to study due to their family responsibilities caring for their children’s children.

‘I’m just so glad ADS can be there for them – offering them a chance to improve their skills and providing a social setting in which they can encounter a sense of belonging.’

Ms Shenton-Kaleido said ADS had recently nominated the volunteers who run the Monday morning multicultural English classes for the Chris Minns volunteer of the year award because of their dedication and commitment.

Along with the Monday classes, Subhash and Ajita Rughani have co-facilitated intercultural English classes with the Chinese and Nepalese grandparents since 2018, including online Zoom classes during COVID lockdowns.  

Subhash was born and raised in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Of Indian ancestry, he is married to Ajita who is from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Both are successful professionals who are now retired. They love volunteering together to ‘give back’ to the community.

Subhash has also been a member of the ADS Men’s Wellbeing group since its inception in 2015 and a White Ribbon ambassador and a strong advocate and supporter of “No to Violence” actions and activities. 

‘Subhash and Ajita know what it’s like to be a new migrant in a strange country,’ said Ms Shenton-Kaleido, ‘and this informs their teaching, which is laced with understanding and compassion.

‘Their intelligence, warmth and humour are vital to how they run their classes and we and our learners are very lucky to have them as volunteer teachers.’

To join the weekly ADS English Conversation class, improve your language and make new friends, call 9597 5455 or email