Enliven enriches local community through inclusion
2017 State Awards – Inclusion Award recipients Afghan and Tamil, enliven Victoria. Photo Credit: Frank Amato

Nestled in Melbourne’s south east, enliven Victoria has proven itself to be dedicated to inclusion across their organisation. In fact, they’ve done this so well that they scored themselves the 2017 Volunteering Victoria State Award for Inclusion.

Specific to their award, enliven showcased their support for the local Afghan and Tamil community through the refugee health program. Specifically, their peer education program empowers local refugee and migrant volunteers to deliver health promotion messages within their own communities, improving the health literacy of the participants.

Mitchell Bowden, enliven’s Refugee Health Project Manager says of their volunteers: “Their enduring commitment to empowering community members to have good health is admirable, as is their altruism and willingness to go beyond their comfort zones for community benefit. “

enliven’s inclusion of these volunteers hasn’t just been in the implementation of the project. Their involvement in co-designing the program from the outset allowed well respected members of these communities to ensure that the program was appropriate to their needs and that it was communicated in a culturally sensitive way.

The outcome of the program has been outstanding, with 966 community members attending 65 volunteer-led health information sessions to date. The large majority of these attendees have been refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants who have been in Australia less than 5 years.

More importantly, feedback from the sessions indicated that there was a significant increase in understanding of health and local support services, most notably around mental health, community health services and how to access out of hours help.

Like any good volunteer program, participating volunteers have become great community advocates with Bowden saying “Anecdotal feedback indicates that outside of these 65 formal sessions, volunteers also continue to champion the key health messages in their daily interactions with their community.”

At Volunteering Victoria, we know that there has been a significant increase in the call for volunteer places for refugee, asylum seekers and new migrants. We commend enliven for their active engagement with these new communities which have wide reaching impacts for inclusion across the whole of Victoria.

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