Volunteer Board Directors – Advance Diversity Services

Volunteer Board Directors – Advance Diversity Services

Are you passionate about serving migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, older people or people living with disabilities? Keen to assist in the governance and leadership of an NFP which makes a positive impact?

Advance Diversity Services (ADS) is seeking skilled individuals to join its board, particularly those with a background in clinical governance/healthcare, legal services, aged care or domestic and family violence support.

We are committed to having a board that is representative of the community we work with.

Email your Expressions of Interest (EOI) outlining your skills and background, reason for wanting to be a director of the board, and why you think you would be the right fit for our board to Company Secretary: Antoinette Chow antoinettec@advancediversity.org.au, using the subject line: Voluntary Board Director EOI

EOI close: 22 April 2022

For more information and the ADS Board Director position description please contact Antoinette Chow on (02) 9597 5455 or email antoinettec@advancediversity.org.au

About ADS

ADS is a not-for-profit organisation that has been supporting the culturally and linguistically diverse community in South-Eastern Sydney for more than four decades. It provides in-home aged care, social groups for older people, disability services, settlement support for migrants and refugees, emergency relief, and community development initiatives.

ADS appreciates free COVID-19 rapid test kits for vulnerable communities

ADS appreciates free COVID-19 rapid test kits for vulnerable communities

Advance Diversity Services (ADS) appreciates the delivery of 600 rapid COVID-19 test kits from Multicultural NSW and Australian Chinese Charity Foundation (ACCF) to ensure free kits are available to its vulnerable culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

CEO Antoinette Chow thanked Multicultural NSW and ACCF for making the rapid antigen tests (RATs) available to ADS to distribute to people of migrant and refugee (CALD) backgrounds in St George and the Sutherland shire – many of whom cannot claim access to government payments.

‘We are the perfect partners to get these tests into the hands of the people who need them,’ Ms Chow said. ‘ADS is trusted by this region’s most vulnerable culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including newly arrived migrants, refugees and temporary visa holders.

‘People come to us in financial stress and with concerns about getting and using the rapid tests – and we’re here to support them. Having free tests to distribute to them will go a long way to smoothing the process.”

Ultimately, Ms Chow said, having the free RAT tests will help slow the spread of COVID -19.

This is because:

  • Newly arrived migrants, refugees and temporary visa holders who have previously struggled to access RAT tests will now find it easier, which increases the likelihood they will use them.
  • If their rapid test shows they’re negative they can work, and go about their other tasks, with much less likelihood of transmitting the virus.
  • If their test is positive, they will know to self-isolate and look after their health, and seek further treatment and advice as needed.

‘The pandemic has brought many challenges to CALD communities,’ Ms Chow said, ‘and ADS has provided much-needed support with things like free masks and in-language education.

‘Providing free RAT tests is another way ADS can help keep vulnerable people safe in what we hope are the pandemic’s final stages.’

So far, over 42,000 RAT kits have been issued by Multicultural NSW to multicultural groups, with more expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

For more information about how to access free RAT test kits from ADS please call (02) 9597 544 or email to info@advancediversity.org.au

James Sabbagh: ‘With ADS I used a broad array of my social work skills’

James Sabbagh: ‘With ADS I used a broad array of my social work skills’

James Sabbagh did his student work placement with Advance Diversity Services (ADS) from July 2021 to January 2022. Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido Team Leader, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services for ADS said James gave stellar support to ADS’s programs in 2021 and made a big difference. James started in his new role at Sutherland hospital in early February.

What drew you to volunteer and/or to do your student placement with ADS?

I was very happy and excited to commence my placement with ADS. I was drawn to the idea of working with a service that was so connected to the local community. So much of ADS’s work is informed by the community for the community, which is amazing to see, especially when working with a culturally diverse population. ADS’s responsiveness and care for the needs of their service users is inspiring.

What are you studying and where? And how has your personal history and/or your cultural background informed your work with ADS?

I studied a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Wollongong. I come from a mixed cultural background, my mum Irish and my dad Maltese/Lebanese. Growing up with a culturally and linguistically diverse family was a great asset when working at ADS. I think because of my family background I was able to be more culturally conscious and receptive when working within a culturally diverse team and with culturally diverse service users. However, due to being born and raised in Australia, throughout my placement I resumed the role of a learner, committing myself to learning and hearing from others about their cultural background and identity.

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?

During my placement at ADS I was involved in and supported the evaluation and update of the Multicultural LGBTIQA+ Support Directory, worked with the Specialised and Intensive Services (SIS) team, supported the Emergency Relief program and helped to organise online Migrant Information Day sessions. The staff at ADS were extremely supportive and continually encouraged me to participate in as many programs and roles as I could. Working in the evaluation, community development and direct client work spaces while at ADS enabled me to utilise a broad array of social work skills. I really enjoyed working with the SIS team and with clients of the SIS program, where I utilised skills of communication, advocacy, empowerment, cultural consciousness and team work. 

What has been the most challenging work you have done with ADS during your time as a volunteer / student?

The most challenging aspect of my work at ADS has definitely been the advocacy work that is often required to ensure beneficial and meaningful service provision. When I say advocacy, I’m referring to the countless phone calls the SIS team makes, trying to overcome hurdles so that other services and resources are accessible to the SIS clients. It can be very frustrating navigating everyday services that constantly seem to inhibit the settlement journey for migrants and refugees.

What strengths have you brought to your placement?

I believe that my strengths in communication, teamwork and reflexive practice were essential to my placement at ADS. Working well in teams and being a confident and adaptive communicator meant that I could successfully work across multiple teams at ADS. I believe that these strengths enabled me to be a useful team member that put forward practical ideas and strategies to enhance service provision. Being a reflexive worker meant that I was always reflecting on my practice and trying to identify ways that I could better support SIS clients and develop resources for ADS.

What has been your proudest moment, greatest achievement, deepest connection in your time at ADS?

It is not a specific moment, but rather all the times a client and I have celebrated small wins. These are the moments when an Opal card has been successfully applied for, a MyGov account is set up or financial support is received. These are all seemingly small achievements but often come after many hurdles and complications. Sharing moments of joy and relief at minor successes with SIS clients has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my work at ADS.

‘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?

Reflecting back on my placement and time volunteering, the tagline ‘Be You With Us’ perfectly encapsulates the environment at ADS. The staff were all so welcoming of me and took a genuine interest in me and my studies. I felt comfortable to speak with others about my cultural background and family, but similarly enjoyed hearing about the identities of other team members. While working on the Multicultural LGBTIQA+ Support Directory it was so amazing to see that the ADS commitment to diverse populations was not superficial in any sense, it was actually ingrained in the work culture.

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 think the Australian Government, among many other things, should make a commitment to reunite the families of migrants and refugees. Supporting migrants and refugees to have other family members join them in Australia would make a huge difference to their overall wellbeing and would help to create larger support networks, making migrants and refugees feel more settled in their new home.

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 do not have an ultimate goal as far as position or practice area, but I am committed to a continual journey of learning and professional development. I see it as inevitable that in the near future I will return to work in the settlement space. This placement has moulded my understanding of what proper community development work looks like. I hope that in my future career I can be in a position that elevates community members’ voices to rally for much-needed change. I have learnt a lot in this placement about how hard it is for migrants and refugees to settle in a new country and I hope that I can, in the future, assist to make that process easier.

Please finish this sentence: I love ADS because …

I love ADS because of their tireless and enthusiastic support for all community members no matter their age, gender, culture, sexuality, and religious beliefs.

James Sabbagh said, ‘My placement with ADS moulded my understanding of what proper community development work looks like.’

Advance Diversity Services partners with Queer Screen to bring tender coming-of-age tale to community

Advance Diversity Services partners with Queer Screen to bring tender coming-of-age tale to community

Advance Diversity Services (ADS) has partnered with Queer Screen to offer a subsidised community screening of a tender coming-of-age tale at a local cinema next month.

The Australian premiere of The First Girl I Loved (喜歡妳是妳) is screening (subsidised offering at $10) at Event Cinema Hurstville on February 24 at 7pm as part of the 29th Mardi Gras Film Festival (MGFF), which runs from February 17 to March 3, 2022.

The First Girl I Loved explores friendship and first love between two young high school girls in Hong Kong who connect again when one is about to be married,’ says ADS Executive Officer Antoinette Chow. ‘It’s an intriguing plot, which looks at the joys and dilemmas of same-sex attraction, including family pressures and heartbreak.’

This is the second year ADS has partnered with Queer Screen to bring a relevant film to the local culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations it works with in St George.

‘ADS is an inclusive service,’ Ms Chow says, ‘and our partnership with Queer Screen offers us a creative way to raise awareness and also to show people who identify with a diverse gender and/or sexuality (LGBTIQA+) that we support them.’

The First Girl I Loved is the directorial debut of advertising director Ng Wing-shan and Yeung Chiu-hoi and is screened in Cantonese with English subtitles.

It tells the bittersweet story of teenage best friends Ming Lee (Hedwig Tam) Sylvia (Sz-Wing Yeung) who are both high-achieving students at a traditional Hong Kong girls’ school.

When Sylvia asks Ming Lee Wing Laam to be maid of honour at her wedding the women are thrown together and forced to ponder if the heated relationship they pursued as students was love or friendship? And what of their relationship now? What are they left with?

Hedwig Tam and Sz-Wing Yeung shine in this dreamy and dramatic romance, which is cited as a unique and affecting piece of Hong Kong cinema.

The $10 tickets are only available at the Hurstville screening and you can book them here.

MGFF22 is inviting people to ‘explore the queer frontier’ in cinemas across Sydney and homes and around Australia with over 110 LGBTIQ+ features, documentaries and shorts. ‘First Nations’ and ‘Rebels with a Cause’ films feature strongly in the program.

The First Girl I Loved is one of many great options for people to view during MGFF22,’ says Ms Chow.

‘This year, there’s also a significant festival strand that is all about queer rebels – artists, musicians and activists who’ve forged a path for rainbow communities by being brave, breaking new ground and living authentically.

‘We know the fight isn’t over – but we really want LGBTIQ+ people in our area to know ADS stands with them all the way in the battle to bring change, equality and freedom.

‘Yes! We’re with you.’


Note: COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place and patrons are encouraged to wear a mask.

Book your $10 ticket to The First Girl I Loved at Hurstville cinema from Queer Screen here.

View the full MGFF22 program and book your other MGFF22 in-cinema and in-home tickets here.

Hedwig Tam and Sz-Wing Yeung star in The First Girl I Loved – a dreamy Hong Kong romance, which screens in Cantonese with English subtitles at Event Cinema Hurstville on February 24.

Advance Diversity Services celebrates 40 years of service

Advance Diversity Services celebrates 40 years of service

Advance Diversity Services (ADS) celebrated its 40th anniversary with speeches, awards, Nepalese dancing and branded cupcakes at its AGM held in its Hurstville office on December 9.

Mark Coure MP, Member for Oatley, spoke about ADS’s outstanding work in the community and presented a 40-year Service Award to Branislav Musovski. Khalil Haragli, also a recipient of the 40-year Service Award, was unable to attend the ceremony.

Mark Coure presenting the 40-year Service Award to Branislav Musovski.

Rodney Thompson (representing David Coleman MP) presented the Banks Volunteer of the Year Award to Martyn Perry, ADS Learn to Drive Mentor volunteer.

Rodney Thompson (representing David Coleman MP) presenting the Banks Volunteer of the Year Award to Martyn Perry, ADS Learn to Drive Mentor volunteer.

Anna Veneris, Group Facilitator, and Rosaline Havea, Board of Directors, received appreciation for 20 years of service and Mushrat Mishu, Finance Officer, and Vera Trajkovska, Community Care Worker, received their 10-year Service Award.

Mushrat Mishu, Finance Officer, being presented with her 10-year Service Award.

ADS CEO Antoinette Chow thanked board members who had completed their service and once again welcomed Chura Belbase, Marites Bairstow, Dr Rifaat Hanna, Rosaline Havea and Ruth Fyfe to their roles on the board.

She also praised Shreya Gyawali, the Nepalese dancer who performed at the AGM, and who happily serves a volunteer at ADS’s Nepalese cultural dance class.

Chairperson Ruth Fyfe said that while celebrations had been disrupted by the pandemic, the 40th Anniversary was still a milestone event for ADS.

‘In 1981, from a simple beginning as St George Migrant Resource Centre, ADS has achieved 40 years of proud service to the community,’ she said. ‘And it is still a values-driven organisation.

‘ADS has grown to include offices at Hurstville, Rockdale, Bexley and Sutherland from where Services are provided to South Eastern Sydney including Bayside, Georges River and Sutherland Shire local government areas.

‘It continues to provide high-quality services to the community by having an active commitment to social justice, compassion, inclusion, empowerment, integrity and collaboration.’

Astrid Perry, AGM Returning Officer.

Ms Fyfe said ADS was fortunate to have highly skilled staff with extensive knowledge of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

‘Staff and volunteers speak over thirty community languages, she said, ‘and ADS continues to thrive in a constantly changing environment.’

Ms Chow said ADS has had a rich history and continues to build on a firm foundation established over decades.

Highlights from the last five years she noted, included, expanding the Settlement Services Program; running anti-racism workshops and domestic and family violence prevention initiatives; offering affordable driving lessons by trained volunteers to people from disadvantaged groups; adapting aged care programs to meet Australia’s aged care reforms; registration as a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider; and winning several awards for our work in fostering diversity with a specific focus on the CALD LGBTQIA+ community, which includes launching our marketing campaign ‘Be YOU WITH US – You belong, We All belong’ and introducing ADS Diversity Champions.

That ADS had been able to purchase and move into its own premises in Hurstville CBD in 2019 was another high point she added.

‘Through our Strategic Plan 2021-2024, we will continue to enact our values of inclusion, collaboration, empowerment, compassion and integrity while focusing on the three strategic pillars: strengthening our industry leadership and partnerships; operating with excellence; and diversifying our services,’ she said.

‘Thank you all for supporting ADS over the last 40 years and I look forward to continuing to work together to build a strong ADS that is well-equipped to face the future.’


Read our annual report here https://www.advancediversity.org.au/resources/

Cupcakes to help ADS celebrate 40 years of fine service in the community.
Art sessions create safe spaces for older CALD LGBTQI people

Art sessions create safe spaces for older CALD LGBTQI people

A five-week online art group offered by Advance Diversity Services has given ten older CALD LGBTQI people the chance to express themselves creatively and find friendship and support.

‘Research shows that older LGBTQI people from CALD backgrounds face discrimination, marginalisation and other challenges that place them at high risk of social isolation and mental health issues,’ said Dimitra Vourliotis of Senior Aged and Disability Services for ADS.

‘We wanted to create a safe space where older CALD LGBTQI people could come together and connect – using art as their outlet and focus.

‘We’ve had great feedback on our recent collage workshops run by artist and teacher Aaron McGarry, and know his sessions really hit the spot for people both socially and creatively.’

Artful Pride Club sessions ran from mid-October to early November and ADS is hoping to mount a small exhibition of the participants’ artworks at Hurstville Library.

‘Art creates a mindful experience by focusing on creating new works,’ said Sandra, who took part in the sessions and enjoyed their strong sense of community involvement, interesting information and friendly and engaging atmosphere.

‘Aaron is very professional in his preparation of the courses, with interesting PowerPoints timed perfectly to engage the audience,’ she said.

‘He is encouraging in providing feedback to participants.’

Jennifer said she’d found the group both fun and nurturing.

‘Aaron is a fantastic facilitator. He is a talented artist but, most importantly, he is a positive, empathetic listener who strives to include and nurture all participants on a personal and artistic level.’

Mr McGarry said creating collage was a good way to break down barriers because it was fun, easy and expressive. It also gave people unsure about making art the chance to be creative without feeling judged for their efforts. 

‘Look at the great works our group has come up with just by snipping, placing and gluing images in place to make a new picture.

‘There’s a table-setting made of jewels and a woman wearing a necklace featuring chillies as well as a headband draped with green beans.

‘All of the works are colourful and compelling – even those that are more abstract.’

ADS engaged artist and teacher, Aaron McGarry, to run collage workshops for older LGBTQI people from CALD backgrounds, which hit the spot for participants both socially and creatively.

Mrs Vourliotis said ADS has a strong track record in addressing the needs of CALD people who identify as LGBTIQ and was pleased to have jointly funded this year’s collage sessions with WayAhead – Mental Health Association NSW, a leader in mental health promotion and programs.

ADS had also applied for funding for 2022 from Georges River Council to run two sets of 10-week two-hour art sessions, each session followed by tea and conversation.

‘These funds will help us to continue to provide CALD LGBTIQ older people with the opportunity to meet others who share similar life experiences and to engage in creative, arts-based activities, Mrs Vourliotis said.

‘The mediums we’ll offer will be guided by participant interest – for example linoleum printing, ceramics and painting. We’re hoping to partner with local councils to exhibit participants’ work locally.

‘Our aim is to see people forming new friendships and connections, and learning new skills.’

‘We really want to use art, and the conversations it can inspire, to combat people’s isolation and improve their mental wellbeing.

‘LGBTIQA+ communities account for more than ten percent of the Australian population so it’s important for us to be offering these services in the suburbs, outside of the Sydney city centre.’