Conference Abstracts and Biographical Notes, D – M

Social Diversity and Harmony Conference Cover

In 2007, the Shepparton Interfaith Network in conjunction with Latrobe University conducted Cultural Diversity and Social Harmony - The Goulburn Valley Experience at Eastbank Centre, Shepparton. Speaker bio's and Conference abstracts are given.




The following contains Speaker bios, Conference abstracts, and where permission has been granted, links to speaker talks and presentations. This page has abstracts D - M.

Conference abstracts and biographical notes

De Santa-ana, Val, Role of Centrelink in resettlement in rural Australia

This paper would consider the changing needs of the established communities and those of the newly arriving communities in respect to the way that Centrelink adjusts its service arrangements. It will also examine the importance of partnerships and flexible service arrangements between local service agencies. The presentation will also explore the availability of Multicultural Services and Language Services as well as resources that are specific to rural areas including Rural Service Officers and Agents and Access Point supports.

Val De Santa-ana is a Rural Centrelink Multicultural Service Officer based in Shepparton and covering Echuca and Seymour regions. She has been working with migrants and refugees for 8 years and has recently been working on a Rural Servicing Project for Centrelink's National Multicultural Services Branch. In 2005 Val was awarded the Australia Day Achievement Award for her outstanding contribution to the settlement of migrants and refugees in Shepparton and the surrounding areas.

Everton, Amanda, Volunteers from CALD backgrounds

People from CALD backgrounds make an important contribution to volunteering in Australia. Research in this area is growing and provides new insight into volunteering and CALD communities, and evidence that many thousands of Australians from diverse and cultural backgrounds volunteer both within and outside their ethnic communities.

This presentation will look at how culturally diverse volunteer programs can be powerful examples of people from different backgrounds working together, and will highlight the benefits volunteering brings, and strategies for not-for-profit organisations on recruiting and involving volunteers from CALD backgrounds.

Amanda Everton is the Manager of the Education and Skills Development section of Volunteering Australia. Amanda works on developing tools and resources for the volunteer sector in areas such as training volunteers, diversity in volunteering, and best practice in volunteer management. She has a background in social work and policy development.

Fortuna, Mary Jo, Women's place in culturally diverse communities

The 'woman problem' is one that can sometimes seem best avoided by host societies that generally champion the cause of multiculturalism and work to build harmonious and inclusive culturally diverse communities. While many cultural differences can be accepted, accommodated and even acknowledged as contributing value to Australian society, the overt gender-role differentiation and associated power differentials of some migrant communities can present a stumbling-block to the achievement of a truly harmonious and integrated community.

On the other hand, some of the most successful grass-roots initiatives in achieving social harmony have been those of women who embrace diversity as they work together across cultures. Such activities have emerged as a result of a recognition of common needs and interests of women across cultures, and a mutual readiness to be open to others of 'difference'.

This paper looks at the potential of women as actualisers of social harmony in culturally diverse communities, and suggests that feminist interpretations of subjectivity offer worthwhile insights useful to the discourse of multiculturalism and associated policymaking.

Dr Mary Jo Fortuna lectures in Sociology and Politics at La Trobe University's Shepparton and Bendigo campuses. Her tertiary teaching has covered a wide range of subjects, with a special emphasis on social theory, contemporary social issues and gender studies. The focus of her research has been structures and relationships within women's religious communities which she has then expanded to explore broader community issues, including the impact of internal and external structures and relationships on communities, and communication and dialogue within communities. This latter interest is also reflected in her involvement in a rapidly expanding community media movement and the formation of the Community Newspapers Association of Victoria (CNAV) which includes members from both geographical and ethnic communities.

Gillespie, Lorna, Building pathways: responding to ethnically diverse communities' needs

The UnitingCare-Cutting Edge employment program for the CALD community is developing a series of programmes around local communities' needs. This presentation will explore several of these locally developed programmes including a Cross Cultural Playgroup and the recently launched Cultural Kitchen project. Cultural Kitchen involves women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds coming together to celebrate different food, different cooking styles and the charming stories that accompany food preparation.

This presentation will relay some of the challenges, successes and lessons experienced by UnitingCare-Cutting Edge in the culturally and economically diverse community that is the Goulburn Valley.

Lorna Gillespie has enjoyed a long time involvement with a centre for young women in Madagascar which has led Lorna in a roundabout journey into investigating ways and means of working with local migrants and refugees. Now part of a UnitingCare- Cutting Edge employment program for the CALD community she is part of the team developing a series of programs around community needs, including a Cross Cultural Playgroup with young mums, children and older volunteers from the church and the newly launched Cultural Kitchen.

Grossman, Michele, and Bertone, Santina, Interrupted lives: challenges for providers of tertiary education and training for refugees - the GO TAFE experience

Australia has a growing refugee population of about 12,000 people a year who arrive through its humanitarian entry program. The motivation for the research on which this paper is based stems from the recognition that this sector of the population has distinct needs but is supported by little research into the experiences and needs of refugees in tertiary education and training either in Victoria or nationally. While some Victorian educational institutions have developed special programs for refugees, there has been no comprehensive mapping and evaluation of these programs or the way in which they sit within broader policy frameworks around tertiary access, participation and the ability of tertiary education institutions to deal successfully with the challenges posed by culturally and linguistically diverse communities that are mobile and whose composition in local and regional areas can change over time.

Our 2006 research project identified a range of key barriers for refugees who attempt to access and participate in tertiary education and training in Victoria based on case studies of six Higher Education and TAFE institutions in Victoria, including GO TAFE in Shepparton. In this paper, we look specifically at how these barriers and challenges have been dealt with by Goulbourn-Ovens TAFE, which has a long history of innovative engagement with and commitment to culturally and linguistically diverse students and education. We analyse their experience and explore further initiatives that can be undertaken in response to shifting community needs and perceptions.

Dr Michele Grossman is Associate Director of Postgraduate Research at Victoria University in Melbourne. As a cultural studies researcher she specialises in Indigenous Australian writing and culture. More recently, she has broadened her research through Victoria University's Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives (ICEPA) to include a focus on the African refugee experience in Australia through working on a range of research projects with government partners including DET, DIMA (now DIAC) and Victoria Police. Her latest book is Entangled Subjects: Australian Cross-cultures of Talk, Text and Modernity (Rodopi: Amsterdam and New York, 2008).

Associate Professor Santina Bertone, Ph D, is a former head of the Work and Economic Policy Research Unit (WEPRU) and formerly Executive Director of the Workplace Studies Centre at Victoria University. She now leads research and research training in the Business and Law Faculty and maintains collaborative research through ICEPA.

Santina's research focuses on women, young people and immigrant/refugee workers in the private and public sectors, with recent studies examining the Regional Jobs Program and young jobseekers, the experiences of refugees in tertiary education, EEO in the Victorian public sector, the working patterns of immigrant workers in Australia, the relationship between cultural diversity and economic development in regional communities and the effect of Work Choices legislation on vulnerable workers. She has also undertaken research and policy development in relation to social capital building in Victoria.

In the mid to late 1990s Santina's research examined the implications of enterprise bargaining and training reform for women and immigrant workers. Most of her research over the past 17 years has investigated the implications of legislative, economic and work organisation changes for the working lives of vulnerable workers. Santina has published 8 books, 11 book chapters, 7 journal articles and numerous conference papers, contract research reports and popular papers. She has attracted almost $1.5 million in research grants.

Hally, Cyril, The role of local government in civic dialogue

When the Centre for Christian-Muslim Dialogue was established in Sydney we identified the potential importance of Local Government in facilitating and supporting the processes of civic dialogue. This presentation will address the need for such processes and the lessons learned from the Centre's Sydney experience.

Dr Cyril Hally completed a Master's in Canon Law in Rome in 1950, spent 18 months in Japan and East Asia before becoming a lecturer at St. Columban's Missionary College in Wahroonga, Sydney in 1953. That same year he became Asian Student Chaplain at the University of Sydney and later at the University of New South Wales until 1962. He then took up studies in cultural anthropology at Victoria University, Wellington. This was followed by an invitation to become a Research Fellow at the Pro Mundi Vita Institute in Bruxelles from 1966 - 1973. Pro Mundi Vita is a socio-religious research institute monitoring secular and religious changes affecting Catholic missionary activity throughout the world.

On his return to Australia in 1973 he became Director of the National Missionary Council and developed a Missionary Institute to prepare students for work in different cultural settings, both overseas and among Australian Indigenous peoples. That became a degree granting institute in 1995 and is now part of the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. The University bestowed on him in 2005 an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his contribution to socio-religious research, cross-cultural training and civic and inter-religious dialogue. He is still a staff member of the Centre for Christian-Muslim Dialogue at A.C.U., Strathfield, NSW

Harris, Alison, When minority youth become homeless who picks up the pieces?

As a youth worker with Culturally and Linguistic Diverse (CALD) youth in a primary support role to those who are, or at risk of becoming homeless it has been challenging, rewarding, frustrating yet a privilege. Through the client support work and the Action Research that I have carried out over the past 12 months it has become clearly evident that regional and rural Victoria is not necessarily prepared for the increase in CALD youth homelessness.

In the Goulburn Valley I have begun to see a rise in CALD youth homelessness due to cultural differences and family violence. In a case study I completed for CMYI it became evident how complex these cases are and how ill prepared we are as client service providers. I will high lighting some of the areas of concern with the aim of future dialogue and actions to assist all health professionals to be and feel more equipped to support the CALD communities.

Alison Harris is a senior youth and family worker in the Newly Arrived Youth Support Program at UnitingCare-Cutting Edge, a service delivery program funded by Department of Family, Community Service and Indigenous Affairs. This program is guided by the evidence base practice of Action Research that has involved all relevant stakeholders. Alison has an extensive history working with families in a variety of settings with her core education in Abuse and Trauma/Alcohol and Drugs.

Kendall, Helene & Phillips, Helen, Why can't I get a job? The employment experiences of Arabic speaking people within the Shepparton community

CRS Australia assists people with disabilities into employment. Over the past 3 years CRS Australia has been working with Arabic speaking people, mainly from Iraq and Kuwait who are seeking local employment. CRS Australia has found this to be a very challenging task working with a small number of clients.

Our presentation focuses on our experiences as rehabilitation consultants, our difficulties and the identification of issues that need to be addressed if Arabic speaking people are to achieve the right to be meaningfully employed within our local community.

Drawing on our experience and knowledge of rehabilitation, employment and vocational counselling and working from the shared perspective of the vital importance of work for an individual's life we would like to put forward some strategies to increase the number of Arabic speaking people working in mainstream employment within Shepparton and the surrounding area.

Helene Kendall is a Social Worker with a background in counselling. Helene has worked at CRS Australia for 10 years as a rehabilitation consultant with a strong focus on locating employment for people with a disability. Helene's interest in working with refugees first began in the late 1970's whilst assisting Vietnamese, Cambodians and Loatian refugees to re settle in Richmond Victoria.

Helen Phillips is a teacher by trade with a Graduate Diploma in Special Education. Working for Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) Australia for the past twelve years has enabled Helen to continue in the work she enjoys most - assisting people in setting and achieving realistic goals, recognising their own potential and giving them the skills to move on to new levels of independence.

Kukanja, Natasha, Ageing well in the Goulburn Valley: celebrating diversity

As the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) older (65+) population is expected to peak in the next decade, it is timely for us to consider the increasing complexity of their needs as they age. This presentation will focus on the unique experiences of post-war migrants, and how it impacts on their experiences as they age. It will also consider the specific needs of our most recent arrivals, as they too experience ageing in their new homeland.

The paper will examine some of the health, well-being and economic pressures relating to the experience of migration, and how these may influence the way in which migrants access support services and participate and contribute to their communities. This paper will also highlight the need for health, welfare and aged care workers to develop cultural understanding and cross cultural communication skills in order to better understand and increase their responsiveness to the needs of CALD older people and their families.

It will also argue for an increased effort by Governments, policy makers, service providers and the general community to increase its awareness of the cultural and linguistic diversity of the community's older population. It will call for the need for us to work together towards ensuring that our experience of ageing is a positive one, and one to be shared by all members of our diverse community.

Natasha Kukanja is a graduate of the Social Sciences and has experience in working across government, community and private sectors. The daughter of now elderly migrant parents, Natasha has a very personal understanding of the migration experience and how this impacts upon people as they age. In her current position as Aged Care Policy Officer at the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria, Natasha has proven herself to be a passionate advocate for CALD older people in regards to accessing appropriate services and engaging in the wider community. With aspirations to travel, live, work and study overseas, Natasha hopes to utilise her ever growing cross-cultural awareness to continue to advocate for the rights and needs of Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse communities now and into the future.

Lennie, Ian, The Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District: a community council for all communities

This presentation will trace the history of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District.

Ian Lennie's interest in Ethnic Affairs began following his 1980 marriage to Philippine national Evangelina. Together they joined the Shepparton and District Ethnic Council and have filled various committee and executive positions, including the position of Secretary, which Ian still holds. Ian is a partner of Lennie Bros Dairy Farmers in Kyabram and is a registered Migration Agent with Fararn Ritchie and Davies Solicitors.

Mantoo, Afshan, Stereotype images of Muslim women in the West

Afshan Mantoo, the mother of four children, full time worker and voluntary community worker has been involved in philanthropic work for many years and is an active member of the Australian Muslim Community.

Afshan pioneered The Muslim Women's Welfare Organization (Vic) and was instrumental in setting up a Muslim Kindergarten at Preston Mosque and Turner School Kindergarten in Coburg. In 1998 she established Islamic Girls/Women's Group (now known as the Muslim Women's Council of Victoria), a not-for-profit organisation whose aims include the advancement, education, enlightenment and welfare of Muslim women.

In 2003 Afshan pioneered Muslim Legal Services (Vic) and presented a paper Philanthropy in Islam at a conference organised by Philanthropic Australia in the same year.

The current honorary president of Muslim Women's Council of Victoria Inc. and Counsellor at the Victorian University Board, Afshan was also one of the delegation from Australia to Indonesia on a Muslim exchange programme of an Australian government initiative to have people to people to contact with Indonesia and build bridges between the peoples of two countries.

Afshan's community work has included association with Muslim Aid Australia, with whom she has worked to provide assistance and relief aid for less fortunate countries; recruiting relief workers, around Australia (from the Royal College of Surgeons) and sending them to the earthquake stricken parts of Kashmir (Pakistan) to help with the Recovery; this included the organisation of their travel arrangements and liaising with government officials from Pakistan. Afshan was awarded Moreland Citizen of the Year in 2005 in recognition of her community work.

McLean, Alan, On equity in the multicultural classroom ... and teaching new arrivals in Shepparton

How do you teach English as a Second Language to groups of illiterate teenagers with no prior schooling? How do you help students in mainstream classes understand where the New Arrival has come from? To bring equity into the multicultural classroom, teachers need to be aware of the cultural and social difficulties and challenges facing students from minority groups.

Alan McLean, principal of Shepparton High School, is delivering a paper written by Debbie Clemson and Jagdish K. M. Singh, teachers of the Shepparton Intensive Language Centre.

Debbie Clemson (BA, Dip Ed. Melbourne University, Graduate Diploma in TESOL from Australia Catholic University) is currently the Coordinator and a teacher of ESL at the Shepparton Intensive Language Centre. She has taught ESL for 20 years in Australia, Scotland, Italy and Spain.

Jagdish K. M. Singh holds an MA in TESL/Applied Linguistics from Iowa State University, USA. She has taught ESL in Malaysia and the US and is currently teaching at the Shepparton Intensive Language Learning Centre.

Mitsos, Vicky, Commitment, dedication and delivery to our Goulburn Valley refugees

Vicky Mitsos migrated to Australia 1957 when her Greek parents settled on a sheep and wheat station at Nathalia. Vicki's life-long commitment to working towards improving conditions for migrants settling in rural and regional Australia found its roots in her childhood experiences of cultural and communication isolation as a child of the only Greek family in the area. Now Business Development Manager of the Multicultural Education Centre at Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, Vicki's role includes fostering links between ethnic communities, Service Providers, Government Departments and other agencies to improve educational opportunities for migrants and refugees.

Vicki was the first regional or rural migrant woman to become President of an Ethnic Community Council in Australia and the first regional or rural migrant woman to become a Commissioner of the Victorian Multicultural Commission. She is currently the longest serving VMC Commissioner and Deputy Director of the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

Vicki was Victorian Woman of the Year 1996, inducted to the Women Shaping the Nation "Victorian Honour Roll of Women" in 2001 and awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003.

Muto, Denis, Second generation: identity issues

Denis Muto arrived in the Goulburn Valley in 1961 at the age of three having been born in France to Italian parents. He attended the local primary school and secondary college. Denis served four years in the Australian Army Reserve - Unit 2nd Royal Victorian Regiment (2RVR).

Denis' career includes 22 years as a Technical Officer with Telstra and five years with Commander Communications. Denis returned to university in 2002, completing a Diploma of Education and teaching in various colleges through out the Goulburn Valley. Denis has been a member of the Italian Catholic Federation for the past 27 years, serving a ten-year period as President and is the current Vice-President.

Denis is also a member at the Shepparton Rotary Club and is President Elect for year 2008-2009. Denis has returned to the family business of property development and is currently building his own home.

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