Services

Playgroup

VASS facilitate a Playgroups in the City of Casey and Dandenong. The program is designed to improve family capacities and connectedness, and are funded by the City of Casey. The Playgroup program has strengthened relationships between parents and children and increased the social networks of isolated and marginalised ASB families. The group offers ASB families a safe environment for them and their children to meet and participate in the pre-school experience, as well as to bond as a family and with other families. The group meets once a week, and the families participate in a social outing at the end of each school term.

Playgroup details:

– Mondays 9.30am – 12.30pm; 41 Menzies Avenue, Dandenong North, 3175 (The Community Hall)

The members of the Playgroup produced a booklet containing Arabic children’s songs.

Costs:

All VASS programs and activities are free of charge.

Small fees may be incurred in relation to recreational activity of excessive costs.

Contact information:

Iman Allaf
Programs Coordinator VASS South East
39 Clow St, Dandenong VIC 3175
Phone: 97671995   
Fax: 8307 2899                                 
Email: [email protected]

Youth Services

VASS provides a variety of services for young people from Arabic Speaking backgrounds, as
well as those from Assyrian, Chaldean and other CALD backgrounds. We primarily work
with people aged 15 – 30, however we are able to cater our services to people outside of this
age group.

Our Youth Services include:

  • Individual employment and education pathways counselling
  • Assistance with resume’ writing, interview skills and other employment training
  • Group employment and education workshops
  • Free social activities
  • Volunteer opportunities for work experience
  • Gambling information and support
  • General assistance, information provision and support

Costs:

All VASS programs and activities are free of charge.

Contact information:

For more information on what is available email [email protected] or call (03) 9359 2861

Facebook:

facebook.com/matt.vassyouth

facebook.com/martin.vassyouth

Family Services

The Victorian Arabic Social Services (VASS) Family Services consists of intake, assessment and referral services, family counselling, family strengthening projects, parent information sessions and family support groups and playgroups. VASS has Family Services at its locations in Broadmeadows and Dandenong offices.

VASS Family Services deliver a variety of activities to support families including: counselling and therapeutic sessions, advocacy, family counselling and support group sessions involving family strengthening projects, parent information sessions, parenting skills training and playgroups.

Early intervention, prevention and education are the focal point of Family Services at VASS. VASS works with parents in order to address their children’s needs, safety and the transition from childhood to adolescence.

This service aims to meet the needs of the Arabic Speaking Background (ASB) families through ongoing counselling and case management, information provisions, access to social support and referral to local services based on a formal intake process and assessment of needs. The ASB communities face a number of issues such as unemployment, settlement issues, mental and psychological health concerns, social isolation, cultural and linguistic barriers and lack of access to services. Families also face family-specific issues such as family violence, parenting issues including parenting in a new culture, intergenerational conflict and cultural clashes. VASS aims to address these issues through social support groups, short and long term case work, culturally sensitive approaches to service provision and appropriate referrals.

All VASS workers have Police and Working With Children checks and the Family Support program caters to a range of issues with families, especially in ASB speaking communities. The roles of the Arabic Families Services Coordinator are, but not limited to:

  • Case management of Families, including counselling and advocacy
  • Coordinate the intake and referral of ASB families and individuals
  • Network with stakeholders in support of ASB families
  • Provision of workshops and forums addressing topics of importance to this target group and including participation from representative of other relevant

The Parenting Information sessions aim to empower parents with knowledge in a range of topics, as well as providing a source of social support and connections between parents, and creating increased understanding between ASB parents and mainstream service providers. The sessions are often facilitated by professionals from external services, such as Maternal Child Health professionals, and cover a range of topics such as adolescent violence, children’s development and mental health, the impact on children of witnessing domestic violence, the Australian legal system, appropriate disciplining and parenting in a new culture, and soothing techniques for infants.

Life Saving Victoria Program

VASS in the South East runs a yearly activity in partnership with Life Saving Victoria. Children and their families learn about water safety on a local beach. Each year 20 children between the ages of 5 and 13 join the program.

VASS South East Intake Session

VASS in the South East has an Intake session on Fridays from 10am -2.00pm, where clients are able to drop in for information and referral services. VASS workers provide on site information and referral services for ASB families relevant to their needs.

Costs:

All VASS programs and activities are free of charge.

Contact information:

Broadmeadows Area:
Shireen Francis,
Family Services Coordinator,
Phone: 9359 2861
Email: [email protected]

South East Area:
Iman Allaf
Programs Coordinator VASS South East
39 Clow St, Dandenong VIC 3175
Phone: 9767 1995
Fax: 8307 2899                                 
Email: [email protected]

Family Service Referral Form

Aged Care and Disability Support Services  

VASS has many programs and activities across the State under its Aged Care and Disability Support Services banner. There have been a variety of events and resources produced in our Aged Care Programs, such as producing and launching the Dance Fit DVD, that educates and encourages older people to stay fit through cultural dancing, and the Al Zakira DVD, that provides education on Dementia through a cultural lens. These were produced through the Healthy Ageing and Service Improvement grant from the Department of Social Services.

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Planned Activity Group (PAG) / Social Support Groups

VASS Planned Activity Groups (PAGs) and Social Support Groups assist disabled and frail aged individuals or their carers, who are socially isolated. PAGs assist in maintaining clients’ personal independence and connections with the community. VASS is funded to work with people of Arabic Speaking Background, inclusive of Assyrian and Chaldean Communities. VASS PAGs are culturally and linguistically appropriate. PAGs undertake a variety of social activities ranging from going on outings, having guest speakers, undertaking exercise classes and celebrating special occasions such as International Women’s Day.

VASS runs PAGs for a women’s group in Newport, a women’s group in Epping, women’s and men’s groups in Dallas, a new men’s Group in Broadmeadows, a group in Casey and a group in Dandenong North.

PAG members benefit in a variety of ways from the program including through:

  • Having their social, cultural, emotional, physical and recreational needs met.
  • Education and enhancement of physical and mental health, including healthy ageing strategies.
  • Provision of respite and support for carers.
  • Developing and maintaining skills for everyday living, thereby maintaining independence and preventing admission to long term residential care and hospital.

In 2016-2017 the Dallas Women’s Group worked with students from the University of Melbourne to create a DVD on Healthy Eating called ‘Eat, Health, Wealth’, which was launched in October 2017.

VASS in the South East runs two Social Support Groups: one in Berwick (Casey City) and the other in Dandenong North. The two groups are aimed at offering ASB elders and those who are isolated, a social environment in which they could meet and participate in the wider community. This experience allows participants to learn about services available to them, work on improving their mental health and wellbeing by participating in small projects. This includes strength training for older people, and cooking for a healthier diet. The two groups engage in social outings at the end of each term. The group operating in Berwick is based at Berwick Senior Hall, 112 High Street every Thursday between 11:00am and 4:00pm.

Arabic Women Seniors Group

This program aims to bring isolated older women together for social interaction. The majority of the seniors have the following barriers in accessing mainstream activities:

  • Language barriers which is why they find it so beneficial to be part of this group.
  • Cultural barriers, ASB communities share cultural norms related to customs and tradition with despite differences in religion or country of origin which are shared in the group, for example food, cultural games, music and socialising norms.

The Arabic Women Seniors Group operates from Jan Wilson Community Centre every Thursday between 10:30am and 1:30pm.

The group has been involved in a range of different projects and activities, including:

  • “Let’s Cook and Talk”. The project provides educational information on the link between cooking healthy meal and women’s health, while at the same time introduces other cultural groups to Arabic /Middle Eastern and Halal food. ‘Let’s Cook and Talk.’ The Department of Health and Human Services managed by the State Wide Resource Centre at ECCV funds transport for participants.
  • The group has also completed a full year of a gentle exercise class at Oasis Leisure Centre.

Funding:

The PAGs and Social Support Groups in the North and West are funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Commonwealth Department of Health respectively.

VASS’ Social Support Group in the South East City of Casey is funded by the Casey Council under their Brokerage Funding Program. The group in Dandenong North is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Participation for CALD Seniors Grant Program 2016, Seniors Program and Participation Unit, and by the Federal Government.

Eligibility:

Aged over 65 years, or under 65 years with a disability, or carer.

Costs:

All VASS programs and activities are free of charge.

Small fees may be incurred in relation to recreational activity of excessive costs.

Contact information:

Broadmeadows area:
For more information please contact Lina Hassan at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]

South East area:
For more information please contact Iman Allaf on (03) 9767 1995 / 0421 990 216 or [email protected]

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Volunteer Co-ordination

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The Volunteer Coordination Program provides mutual companionship through home visits and social outings for those who may be socially isolated, living with a disability, or of old age. This program provides valuable connections for community members from Arabic, Assyrian and Chaldean speaking backgrounds. Links are established with volunteers who share similar languages and cultural backgrounds. VASS provides volunteers who are culturally and linguistically competent, and educated in community service information. Volunteers play an integral role in passing knowledge on to clients and linking them with other programs they are eligible for.

Volunteers play a vital role in encouraging community involvement as well as providing accessible social support for clients. Clients feel encouraged to attend community events as they are accompanied by a volunteer helping them calm initial nerves and doubts that may be associated to joining social groups. The program is vital in assisting elderly people and people living with disabilities to maintain their independence. In many cases it also provides much needed respite for carers.

The program also serves a second purpose providing empowerment to volunteers involved, who are members of the Arabic, Assyrian and Chaldean communities themselves. Through training, being trusted with the responsibility of being a source of support to other community members, volunteers reported that their self –esteem and confidence increases.
Both groups involved gain an increased knowledge of other services available to them and other information provided at information sessions including, nutrition, how to vote in elections, legal aid, HACC services, along with a range of other topics.

Funding:

The Volunteer Coordination program is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Costs:

All VASS programs and activities are free of charge. Small fees may be incurred in relation to recreational activity of excessive costs.

Contact information:

For more information please contact Lina Hassan for more information at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]

Volunteer Application Form

Access and Support Program / Specialised Support Services

The Access and Support program supports clients who are over 65 years, under 65 with a disability and carers from Arabic Speaking Background (ASB), inclusive of Assyrian and Chaldean communities, that experience barriers to accessing HACC and Aged Care services. The Access and Support workers also work more broadly in the HACC and Aged Care service systems to provide information and advice, cultural knowledge and assisting generic agencies in developing culturally appropriate service responses for ASB specific clients.

The Access and Support program is very beneficial for the ASB community as a major barrier to accessing services include cultural stigma around aged care and a lack of knowledge of what is available, which this program is dedicated to addressing.

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VASS supported people who have a disability or are aging and their carers by:

  • Enriched client knowledge and awareness of the services available.
  • Enhanced communication between clients and local councils (HACC providers) through community forums.
  • Increased engagement with Aged Care services through support to access My Aged Care.

 

Who is eligible for VASS Access and Support Activities?

  • 65 years or over; or
  • On a disability pension
  • An unpaid carer of one of the above; and,
  • Eligible for HACC or CHSP services
  • Socially isolated and disadvantaged
  • Experience barriers to accessing HACC or CHSP services
  • Of ASB or Assyrian Chaldean communities/backgrounds
  • Living in the regions: Hume, Moreland, Darebin, Whittlesea, Banyule, Nillumbik, Yarra, Hobson’s Bay (over 65 year olds only)

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Funding:

The Access and Support program is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Costs:

Support from an Access and Support worker is confidential and free of charge.

Contact information:

For more information please contact Lina Hassan at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]

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Community Visitor’s Scheme (CVS)

VASS Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) aims to enrich the lives of senior ASB individuals who are at risk of social isolation. The program promotes the social and emotional wellbeing of the recipients of Australian Government subsidised Home Care Packages (from any provider) through matching the older person with a volunteer.

The benefits of the Community Visitors Scheme for the clients are:

  • Increased social and emotional wellbeing
  • Decreased feeling of social isolation
  • Connectedness to the ASB community
  • Formation of a long-term friendship
  • Occasional outings such as visits to a park as part of the volunteer-client relationship

The volunteers involved have a sound knowledge of the cultural importance and values. The volunteers will be matched to the client based on preferences to provide a comfortable, fun, and familiar experience.

Some of the visitations the volunteers will undertake include:

  • A one on one visit by a volunteer to a client in accordance to the Home Care Package (HPC)
  • Possible transportation of client for a local outing i.e. a trip to the local shops

Who is eligible?

The Victorian Arabic Social Services CVS volunteer program and visits will be available to clients who are receiving a Home Care Package (HCP) who have been assigned by their aged care provider as an person experiencing  or being at risk of, social isolation it could be because of social or cultural reasons or reasons relating to a disability where client requires companionship.

Volunteers

Volunteers have always been an important asset to VASS and crucial contributors to community life.  Volunteers give up some of their time to exercise rewarding roles and experiences. Whilst there aren’t many requirements to become a volunteer, it is of great principle to maintain a motivated and compassionate character to be able to contribute to quality outcomes, add value to projects and an enlightening experience.

All volunteers will be:

  • A valued member of VASS
  • Educated on organizational structure and policies
  • Well informed of task, roles, and responsibilities
  • Supported in your role
  • Initial visit with supervision and following visits with supervisor follow ups e. phone call
  • Ensure you are in a safe environment
  • Provided with the appropriate and adequate training

As a Volunteer, your commitment to CVS may include but not limited to:

  • At least 1 hour per fortnight
  • Home visit an assigned client; identified as experiencing or at risk of isolation, with a need of companionship and friendship.

Contact information:

For more information please contact the program coordinator, Dima Ladkani, on (03) 9359 2861 or email [email protected]

CVS Volunteer Application Form

CVS Home Care Provider Referral Form

Home Care Packages

VASS is approved to provide Home Care Packages to qualifying people. A Home Care Package is a provision that helps an older person manage all the supports and services they receive. The kinds of services that can be received on a package includes: support services (such as home maintenance, home modifications, and social activities), personal care, nursing, allied health and other clinical services, and care coordination and case management. VASS’ role in the process is to work with the client, their carer and family to support them to manage all of their care needs.

There are four levels of Home Care Packages: Level 1, 2, 3, and 4.

  • Level 1 supports people with basic care needs.
  • Level 2 supports people with low-level care needs.
  • Level 3 supports people with intermediate care needs.
  • Level 4 supports people with high-level care needs.

Since being approved as a Home Care Package provider in early 2016, VASS has delivered a high standard as evidenced through positive feedback from clients and their families. Initially VASS was funded to support people on Level 2 or 3 packages who lived in the Western Metro Region of Victoria. However as of February 2017 there became no restrictions on the location or level of the packages VASS could provide. These changes have given consumers more choice for the care and services they receive.

Costs:

The Australian Government (Department of Health) funds the majority of each Package, but clients may be asked to make a small contribution towards services if they can afford to do so. You cannot be denied a Home Care Package if you cannot afford to pay. Home Care Packages do not interfere with existing caring arrangements or the Centrelink Carer Payment.

Eligibility:

Home Care Packages are for people over the age of 65 years. To be assessed as eligible for a Home Care Package, you will need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) after registering with the My Aged Care Contact Centre. VASS can assist in this process.

There are no citizenship or residency restrictions on accessing a Home Care Package. However, Packages are not intended for people visiting Australia for a short time or people requiring temporary or short-term care.

Contact:

Phone: (03) 9359 3861
Email: [email protected]
Fax: (03) 9359 2899

Win Back Your Life Gambling Support

VASS is funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) through the Win Back Your Life program. This program provides support for people that are directly affected by the consequences of problem gambling as well as affected others, such as family members. VASS works closely with people from Arabic speaking backgrounds, inclusive of Assyrian and Chaldean communities in order to tackle the issue. The program offers therapeutic and financial counselling for clients who are ready to make behavioural and lifestyle changes. Different principles of support are applied with the focus placed on the most urgent presenting problem expressed by clients.

Therapeutic counselling helps clients combat or minimise their problematic gambling, and in turn reduce their associated stress, anxiety and dysfunction. VASS focuses on ongoing casework with a holistic approach linking clients with VASS’ financial counselling services as well as other support services available at VASS. Financial counselling seeks to assist clients in gaining increased financial literacy and control as well providing support to people wishing to self-exclude from pokie venues. Both the services can be provided in English, Arabic or Chaldean.

The program also facilitates community awareness sessions in order to educate and increase understanding of gambling and ways to discuss and address gambling harm. We are able to provide community information sessions to interested groups in either English, Arabic or Chaldean.

Costs:

All VASS programs and activities are free of charge.

Contact information:

For more information on therapeutic counselling please contact Shireen Francis or Kieran Hough for more information at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]

For more information on financial counselling please contact Roni Hanna or Kieran Hough for more information at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]