The directory incorporates a vast array of counselling services, legal support, faith communities, media services, university groups, aged care, youth services, professional associations and more in the Sydney area.
It’s also a useful referral tool for social workers, case workers and organisations who work with CALD LGBTIQA+ people who are migrants or the children of migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless or internally displaced.
Loc and James brought the combined weight of their networking, coordination, research and editing skills to the exacting task of ensuring the new edition of the directory is user friendly and up-to-date.
Both say the new version is a vital resource for a CALD LGBTIQA+ person to find services and groups that can support their wellbeing.
On the heels of its launch, Loc explains why …
Why is it crucial to continue to produce the directory and promote the accessibility of the services and groups, which exist to support the wellbeing of the CALD LGBTIQA+ community?
Many mainstream services and programs provide support to community members assuming that they either belong to the LGBTQ+ community or to a cultural group, and rarely do we see programs that meet the intersectional needs of those belonging to both or more groups.
For LGBTQ+ community members from culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse backgrounds, it is important that they are able to see themselves in community groups and services that holistically and meaningfully understand their experiences of culture, gender and sexuality. This is even more important for those with migrant or refugee experience who are looking to build their social connections with peers in Australia.
The directory will support the social wellbeing of LGBTQ+ community members from culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse backgrounds to get connected with the right community groups and services that are culturally safe and relevant to their needs and experiences.
What feedback have ACON, ADS and others had from users about previous versions of the directory?
Overall, feedback has been really positive for the resource with many community members expressing it has made it easier for them to find relevant community groups to get connected with. Service providers have also shared how useful the resource has been when referring LGBTQ+ community members from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to other services.
However, we have also received feedback that certain LGBTQ cultural groups have not been represented in this resource in the past. The beauty of the directory and website being updated frequently is that we can continue to expand and include groups that have been missing so that we can support as many community members when looking to the future.
What barriers can CALD LGBTIQA+ people face in finding the support they need, which could well be overcome by using the information provided in the directory?
Studies have shown that LGBTQ+ people from culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse backgrounds and those with migrant and refugee experience are disproportionately faced with multiple forms of marginalisation in social and health settings. This includes racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia.
This leads to poorer physical, social and mental health outcomes for these communities as well as reduced access to mainstream health services, which community members may not perceive to be for them if the service is seen to be for white or non-LGBTQ people.
However, evidence from studies shows that when LGBTQ+ community members from culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse backgrounds are connected to their peers, there is an increase in confidence when accessing to health services.
This directory links LGBTQ+ people from culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse, migrant and refugee backgrounds, and LGBTQ+ people of colour into services and community groups that provide culturally safe and appropriate support that are specific to the diverse needs of community members, which is crucial to overcoming these social barriers and to improving health outcomes and literacy for these communities.
Rainbow Cultures is an online directory that expands on the physical Multicultural LGBTQIA+ Support Directory. This website was developed through a combined effort by ACON and community groups, SocialisAsians and ANTRA, with support from Advance Diversity Services and CALD Gay Men’s Action Group.
Being online, Rainbow Cultures is much more accessible to community members, and is potentially more shareable amongst peers. As a digital resource, the website also continues to be expanded and updated with the latest information around the multicultural LGBTQ+ community groups in NSW. This became even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns when community members were looking to stay connected with their peers through online events. We hope moving forward the website can house further resources for multicultural LGBTQ+ community members.
What was it like to work with James on the directory and where can people find the print version?
James was great. He brought his Social Worker training to the job and surveyed LGBTIQA+ groups and individuals – the feedback from which helped us to shape this edition. There’s a web viewable version of the directory here. Advance Diversity Services will also have a limited supply of printed copies, which people can get by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and pick-up from its Hurstville office.
Loc Nguyen is Community Health Promotion Officer –Multicultural Engagement and Community Development for ACON.
James Sabbagh completed his six-month student work placement with ADS in January 2022 as part of his Social Work honours degree at the University of Wollongong. He commenced his new role as Social Worker at Sutherland Hospital in early February.
The subsidised screening of the tender same-sex romance was held on February 24 at Event Cinema Hurstville. Information about sexuality and gender issues from ANTRA, headspace and Kogarah Community Services (promoting GLISTEN) was also available in the cinema foyer.
‘We had a fabulous night,’ said ADS Executive Officer Antoinette Chow, ‘and the film was thought provoking.
‘This is the second time we’ve partnered with Queer Screen – and offering cheaper tickets to the wider community affirms we’re an inclusive service and shows LGBTIQA+ people that we support them.’
When Sylvia (Sz-Wing Yeung) asks Ming Lee (Hedwig Tam) 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?
Ms Chow said, ‘The screening was a great way to raise awareness in our community of LGBTIQA+ issues – people’s struggles, heartaches and happiness – and we know this kind of awareness is what brings change, equality and freedom.’
Chair of the ADS Board, Ruth Fyfe, said she was pleased to see that a significant program strand in this year’s MGFF was about queer rebels – an excellent reminder of all the artists, musicians and activists that had carved the path to greater recognition and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people.
‘But the battle for inclusivity is not over,’ she stressed, ‘and we must keep the good fight going for the whole of the rainbow community.
‘At ADS we work hard to ensure LGBTIQ+ people – including LGBTIQ+ people from CALD backgrounds – find a warm welcome and total acceptance.’
MGFF is an annual event. It offers online and on-demand screenings of festival films to bring the best LGBTIQ+ cinema from around the world to people in Australia.
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 email@example.com, using the subject line: Voluntary Board Director EOI
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.
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.
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.
‘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.