We’re a diverse bunch at CatholicCare.
Our staff come from dozens of different cultural backgrounds, and many were even born overseas.
This is relevant today as we celebrate International Mother Language Day.
CatholicCare works with many people who either struggle with or who cannot speak English, so we see the importance of reaching out to them in their mother tongue.
We are able to accomplish this with our variety of culturally diverse staff and volunteers, who are not only multilingual but who also understand the background and norms of different cultures throughout the world.
Supporting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
Lulu Johnny, Refugee Settlement Support and Alcohol and Other Drug Community Worker at CatholicCare, arrived in Australia in 2005 from Burma.
Upon his arrival he could barely speak English, and yet now he is helping others who are in a similar position to what he himself experienced.
Lulu runs a range of learning groups for the Burmese community in Wyndham Vale, including homework groups for students (from Foundation to Year 12!), and IT skills and cooking groups for parents.
Around 90% of the parents Lulu is in contact with cannot read or write, and so they struggle to help their children with homework. Furthermore, over 55% of students in the Karen community who finish Year 12 go straight into looking for work, as it is difficult for them to get into university due to the language barrier and their English literacy and numeracy skills.
Above: Lulu Johnny with one of CatholicCare's Refugee Cooking Group participants, 2019.
The groups Lulu runs are supported by bilingual staff who are able to speak to the participants in their mother language, which is an important element of the groups.
‘Many in the Karen community came here from jungle areas, where safety and food were the top priorities. Education was of a much lower importance,’ says Lulu.
Lulu himself can relate to how education can be incredibly difficult for those who haven’t grown up in Australia, and so the refugee support groups he runs are providing the opportunity for children and parents to gain news practical skills and develop their English language.
To take a look at the services we offer to refugee families and communities, click here.
Above: 2019 end of year celebration for Wyndham Vale Refugee Programs.