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.’