Case Studies and Stories

The following is a summary of some of the innovative programs and projects which target CALD communities. Most programs specifically look at volunteering issues around CALD engagement while other programs provide insight into key stakeholders in this space and what they’re doing to build more socially inclusive communities.


Refugee Action Program

RAP is an innovative, community development program working with emerging refugee communities in the North-West metropolitan region. RAP works to support communities to identify their own needs and to develop community-owned projects in partnership with local councils and service providers. Spectrum MRC and the Ecumenical Migration Centre (EMC-Brotherhood of St Laurence) have partnered to deliver the project across the North and inner West region of Melbourne. RAP is funded by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC) and is supported by the Victorian Government.

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Whittlesea Community Connections Program targeting CALD

More than 50 % of clients are of CALD background. Volunteering is seen as a way to develop English language skills. WCC have well established programs addressing the needs of CALD community members such as:

  • Partnerships with NMIT helping English students obtain 500 hours’ worth of training
  • Fair Go Employment Mentor Program enabling new arrivals to obtain relevant work experience and references, and increase their confidence and resources in looking for a job.
  • Mentor Program which aims to develop a relationship with a person from another country and bridge the cultural divide. Mentors meet mentees one hour or two per week and do as little as share some conversation or share knowledge and experience of your professional field to assist in the career and personal development of recently arrived refugees and migrants.
  • Volunteering Emergency Management Project aims to increase the number and diversity of people volunteering in Emergency Management
  • Harmony Newsletter in Arabic, one of the highest CALD membership groups in the Whittlesea area as well as employing an Arabic speaking worker.

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Darebin Information Volunteer Resource Centre

The Darebin Overseas Students Association (DOSA) program was the winner of 2012 Better Neighbourhoods Award. DOSA supports students who live or study in the City of Darebin. DOSA aims to support international students who live and / or study in the City of Darebin. It seeks to ensure that international students are grounded on a personal level, included as part of the wider community and empowered to negotiate whatever systems they need to in order to ensure that their time in Australia is fruitful, safe and happy.

Activities include participation in cultural programs, movie, music and dance events, workshops and performances, international food making, support and referrals, fun activities and games. The project was funded by the Lord Mayors Charity.

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Migrant Information Centre Eastern Melbourne

The Supporting CALD Volunteering in the Mainstream program aims to address the barriers to volunteering for people form CALD backgrounds by providing a supportive environment for them to volunteer in mainstream organisations in the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. The project had three components which are:

  • Provide an 8-week orientation program for new volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Recruit and train individuals as mentors to assist the volunteers in their placement in organisations
  • Provide consultation and support to mainstream organisations to assist them to accommodate the volunteers

Inviting Cultural Diversity in Volunteering Project (2008)
This HACC funded project encouraged organisations to adopt welcoming and inclusive policies and procedures for CALD volunteers; established mechanisms for organisations to share resources; piloted a mentoring program for CALD volunteers; and highlighted good practice in volunteering for people from CALD backgrounds at a forum in May 2008. Conclusion- The Pilot Mentor Program – good start for organisations interested in providing mentoring to volunteers as a way of supporting volunteers from CALD backgrounds. The model, training, handbooks and other documentation have been developed and are readily accessible on the MIC website.


Home and Community Care Services and Volunteers from Diverse Cultural Backgrounds Project (2006)

Joint partnership between HACC, MIC Eastern Melbourne and EVRP

The project provides recommendations to VIOs on the following key areas policy and practise, cultural awareness, language and communication and resourcing. Study found that word of mouth and contact with community organisations were key recruitment strategies used by HACC organisations. Barriers included language and cultural differences as well as a lack of inclusive policies and practises.


Inviting and Celebrating Cultural Diversity in Volunteering in the EMR (2011)

Funded through DPCD, DH and VMC the program was designed to:

  • Encourage VIO to recruit and support volunteers from CALD backgrounds in their programs,
  • Raise awareness about volunteering in Australia with CALD communities and
  • Celebrate existing volunteers from CALD communities

Key activities included: providing information sessions about volunteering for recently arrived and established CALD community groups, developed promotional materials for CALD communities, ran a capacity workshop for VIO’s, developed material for VIO’s and developed a Mentor Program piloted through 3 HACC organisations, translating volunteer brochure in 10 languages.


AMES Report “Strength and Diversity in Supporting Communities “Engaging CALD communities in Volunteering in Victoria” – A guide for Volunteer –Involving Organisations (July 2011)

AMES received a Grant in 2010 from DPCD called Organisational Change Support Grant to engage CALD communities, particularly those considered new and emerging in Victoria. Ames conducted four seminars entitled Strength and Diversity in Supporting Communities in Broadmeadows, Noble Park, Melbourne and Geelong between March- May 2011. Over 100 VIO’s attended.


Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre’s ‘From Receivers to Givers’ program

This project involved four community organisations and aimed to encourage the ongoing engagement of people from new and emerging communities in volunteering, through varied activities that sought to promote:

  • Change within mainstream agencies in engaging volunteers from those backgrounds,
  • Raise awareness of its benefits with members of newly arrived communities,
  • Support interested community members to pursue greater involvement.

From Receivers to Givers was part of the AMES CALD Volunteer Engagement Project funded by the Department for Planning and Community Development.


Spectrum Workshops

From September – November 2011, Spectrum MRC ran volunteer workshops in collaboration with The Salvation Army. Workshop participants were from culturally diverse backgrounds and the workshops explored how volunteering can help people to gain Australian work experience, develop skills, build networks and increase job and training opportunities.

While 10% of the participants had never volunteered before, 72% were already volunteering in their community and 59% had previously volunteered in Australian organisations. Overall, the participants felt that the workshop was a positive experience and provided a space for them to consider what volunteering means to them. Spectrum MRC also interviewed Agency Volunteering Ambassadors from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, DIVRS, Whittlesea Council and Spectrum MRC to explore the range of mutual benefits their organisation witnesses when they host volunteers of culturally diverse backgrounds.


Castlemaine African Community Project

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Castlemaine African community project supports African Australians from a refugee background to settle in the town of Castlemaine. The Council employs two project staff including a coordinator and multi-lingual community support worker who speaks Dinka, Arabic and English. The project provides an informal drop-in service which assists people day to day in settlement related matters such as making calls with interpreters, developing resumes, understanding forms and providing broad advice on other supports or information available to people. The project has an adult work experience program placing people with local small businesses to diversify their skills beyond the meat factory where most work and to introduce community members to potential employers. There is a strong focus on increasing the availability of face to face interpreters, particularly for use by health and children’s services.

CACP provides cross cultural information to the broader Castlemaine community by making presentations and showing films about refugee experiences. The bilingual community support worker is able to give firsthand accounts of being a refugee and is able to answer people’s questions. This provides long term Castlemaine residents with a rare insight and seems to build a stronger support base for African Australians in Castlemaine. CACP have engaged many longer term residents in these events through well-known organisations such as Rotary, political parties of all sides and broad based services such as the local library.


Volunteering Geelong Supporting CALD Volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organisations Report (April 2009)

This report discusses the barriers to volunteering for CALD community members and looks at the recruitment and retention of CALD volunteers by VIO. Barriers for CALD community members are explored and recommendations and strategies for VIO’s are summarised.

Key findings include: better supporting organisations who have CALD volunteers or who are interested in recruiting them. Training was seen to be the most adequate way to assist organisations to build a more culturally friendly workplace thereby creating better opportunities and appreciation of CALD volunteers.


Centre for Multicultural Youth -Diverse Young Volunteers

The CMY created a video to showcase young people from diverse backgrounds who are active volunteers, as well as the organisations they volunteer for. It includes volunteers from Western Young People Independent Network (WYPIN), Multicultural Leaders in Sustainability (MLS), St John Ambulance Victoria and the Reach Foundation. CMY were supported by a local partnership grant offered by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria.

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North Melbourne Language Learning Community Learning Champions Project

In 2015, NMLL ran the Community Learning Champion program across 2 host sites, NMLL in North Melbourne and CNLC in Carlton. The program recruited 17 Community Learning Champions, speaking 11 different languages. CLCs engaged over 175 community members total, providing information and individual support.
Some outcomes measure for 2015 include

  • 517 hours volunteered by CLCs
  • Over 70 direct referrals to a diverse range of employment and learning services including: employment support, volunteering, VET courses, English language courses, and lifelong learning opportunities which included the local library, craft classes and sport.
  • At least 9 resulted in enrolment and commencement in either English Language or VET courses.

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