Marie Eve Santi Amantini began as a volunteer with ADS in October 2019 and went on to complete a student placement with ADS from January 27 to April 3, 2020. She says these experiences have been invaluable in equipping her to contribute to the community and assist people in need.

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

I am passionate about helping refugees, new migrants and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. Advance Diversity Services (ADS) is a community organisation that specialises in this area.

What are you studying and where? 

I am studying a Diploma of Community Services with 4Life College.

What strengths have you brought to your volunteer role and student placement?

My own migration journey from France to Australia taught me the intricacies involved in navigating a new life. This has informed my work and helped me to understand issues related to separation, trauma, conflict and the orientation required to build a new and supportive community.

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

When I work towards assisting clients with complex needs I have a deep sense of accomplishment. I previously wrote the case management plan and coordinated the referrals for a refugee client newly released from a detention centre in order to support his safe settlement in the Australian community, and was feeling good about it.

What ADS programs have you assisted with and how have you been encouraged to apply your studies and expand your skills in your role?

I supported the Emerging Communities team in three programs: Specialised Intensive Services (SIS); Settlement Engagement Transition Support (SETS); and Community Capacity Building (CCB).

I assisted the community workers with coordinating the Positive Parenting program with Bangladeshi and Nepalese families, which aims to improve health and wellbeing, and participated in the Waste Wise project that helps new migrants to learn recycling practices. I also assisted case managers in the Specialised Intensive Services program (SIS) which supports humanitarian entrants who have complex needs.

Through these programs, I was encouraged to use the skills I learnt during my diploma, including case management and case work, project and event management, and collaboration with service providers. Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, as Community and Settlement Team Leader, provided thorough supervision and reviewed my day-to-day work, which assisted me to develop my skills. Furthermore, I received regular training opportunities, including LGBTI-inclusive practice and a Child Safe Workshop.

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

English is my second language, so it can be challenging to write reports or important emails in English. Even more, communicating in professional English can sometimes be tricky.  

“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?

I felt completely accepted for who I am by the team. In fact, I only eat vegan food and it can be challenging to have different behaviours than the broad community. The team members have been accepting and provided vegan food options when needed.

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 government could support migrants and refugees by providing more funding to community organisation to offer orientation programs to all new migrants and refugees on arrival. This would support better access to services and equal opportunities.

Also, many government policies are designed for the general Australian population but do not consider the special challenges that migrant and CALD populations confront in early settlement. These newcomers, especially from emerging communities – Rohingyans and Mongolians for example – would benefit from a more consultative and inclusive approach to policy making. Without this, policies focus on culturalism and differences, rather than taking a real problem-solving approach.

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 contribute to the community by assisting people in need. ADS has been assisting me to develop the skills I need by immersing me in all aspects of community work, and with intensive team support. I am very grateful for this.

I love ADS because of its commitment to provide a high level of expertise in its provision of CALD services.