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Learning about multicultural volunteering

Regional BASOs Sue Martin (West), Kirsten Dudink and Bec McDonald (North West), along with Sherene Mounier and Tim Firman (HQ) were privileged to attend the inaugural Volunteering Victoria Multicultural Volunteering Conference on Tuesday at the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne.

The theme of this year’s Conference was Empowering People, Connecting Communities and all participants agreed it was an extremely worthwhile experience. A few (of the many) highlights on the day included:

  • The Welcome to Country ceremony and speech provided by Aunty Di Kerr, an Elder of the Wurundjeri Tribe. Aunty Di was inspiring in her passion for her community and Country. She is an extremely intelligent woman who delivered one of the best Welcome to Country presentations I have personally seen. Aunty Di explored the concept of looking after Country and Community regardless of culture, language, race or religion. I was actually quite moved by her words of wisdom; this started the conference in a fantastic fashion.
  • The Keynote Address by Dr Irene Bouzo of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) was highly engaging; she very clearly articulated the need for organisations to be inclusive and welcoming of all cultures. ECCV have had many Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) volunteers come through the organisation on their path to paid employment – the benefit to ECCV and the broader community has been immeasurable through the network building and lessons learnt.
  • The panel discussion and research roundtable were both very valuable. The calibre of speakers and presenters was highly impressive, including Hong Kim MLA (Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Asia Engagement) among many others of great knowledge and passion.
  • All five participants attended Pino Migliorino’s workshop about Multicultural Volunteering – From Research to Action. Pino is from the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia but also volunteers quite extensively himself.
  • The second workshop I attended was Inclusive Volunteering: Engaging CALD Volunteers, presented by Esis Tawfik of MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Australia – and they have really got this right. MS Australia utilize CALD volunteers to provide home visits and company for MS sufferers in their native language, with some volunteers providing over 25 years of service in this capacity. A lot of their practice in this space (which I personally consider to be best) is around minimising paperwork and unnecessary procedures for volunteers, communicating in plain language and being clear about what each stakeholders expectations and responsibilities are.

One of my main ‘takeaways’ from the Conference was provided by Dr Irene Bouzo in her Keynote Address. When thinking about your personal identity and in turn accepting that of others, it is crucial to remember the ‘Positive Identity Formation Model’, which is not as complicated as it sounds:

Ask yourself, “Who am I?”
Say it aloud
Feel good about it
Make a commitment to it.

Last Updated: 23 March 2017