Category Archives: Recent

Community Visitor’s Scheme (CVS)

VASS’ Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) worked to enrich the lives of senior ASB individuals who are at risk of social isolation. The program promoted 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 were:

  • 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 had a sound knowledge of the cultural importance and values. The volunteers were matched to the client based on preferences to provide a comfortable, fun, and familiar experience.

Some of the visitations the volunteers undertook included:

  • 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

The Victorian Arabic Social Services CVS volunteer program and visits were available to clients who were receiving a Home Care Package (HCP) who had been assigned by their aged care provider as an person experiencing  or being at risk of, social isolation. This could have been due to social or cultural reasons or reasons relating to a disability where the client required companionship.V

Settlement Services

The VASS Settlement Services were designed to build the capacity of the new and emerging Iranian community. This was done through a variety of activities such as linking Iranian clients to mainstream services, empowering clients to access education and employment by assisting with resume writing and linking clients to relevant training, short-term case work and advocacy, particularly around settlement issues, and group information sessions on a range of topics such as the Australian legal system, the Australian social service system, and health and wellbeing. VASS’ Settlement Services program also provided information sessions on the needs of the Iranian community in Victoria to other service providers, to maximise the capacity of these services to respond appropriately to the Iranian community’s needs.
The Settlement Services was funded by the Department of Social Services.

This program serviced people of Iranian background who are humanitarian entrants; refugees with offshore visas; family stream migrants with low level of English proficiency; and dependants of skilled migrants in rural and regional areas with low English proficiency.

Curbing Radicalisation Through Youth Resilience and Community Partnerships Project (Conclusion)

The Curbing Radicalisation Through Youth Resilience and Community Partnerships Project was an initiative by VASS, funded by the Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department and ran between 2011 and 2012. The project was made up of a number of smaller projects and activities that address particular issues with a focus on achieving a number of objectives. This was undertaken in the following way:

-Monash University research workshops, including staff from the Faculty of Arts, such as Dr. Peter Lentini
– Introduction to media productions
-United Nations Youth Ambassadors Program
– Soccer leadership camp
-First Aid Course
-Resume writing
-Cyber-bullying workshop

The program’s central aim is to address the negative effects of disempowerment, anger, helplessness and frustration within the Australian Speaking Background (ASB) communities. The project supported the strengthening of communal bonds within the social, cultural and economic life of Melbourne, and actively engaging ASB youth in programs and interventions designed to re-instill connectedness and belonging.

Many of the youth who engaged in this project discovered programs and presented interest with joining other youth groups. Examples are joining VASS’ Kalam TV program, a television program on Channel 31 which airs once a week, allowing youth to experience broadcasting, writing and production within screen media. Also, interests were experienced to join VASS’ radio program, ‘3al Hawa’ at the 3CR Radio Station.

A report of this project has been formally produced and distributed as well as presented to an audience attended by community professionals, prominent personnel and staff from the Attorney-General’s Department. This report has allowed VASS to continue its ongoing membership with the Victoria Police Muslim Community Reference Committee in its voluntary capacity and VASS relies on volunteers to regularly attend meetings. These meetings were documented through questionnaires, surveys and other forms of information collection and collation.

In line with the recommendations mentioned for each initiative and the objectives for the focus group, VASS identified a number of broad areas of target concern to work on and develop in the coming financial year:

Developing the leadership capacity of the Arabic Speaking Background (ASB) youth through creating opportunities for increased self-esteem and self-confidence and skills in teamwork, independent living skills, communication and negotiation and to develop into positive role models with broader Arabic and Islamic communities.

To equip parents and guardians with the knowledge and skills to recognise ‘at risk’ behaviour in their children and equip them with the tools and ability to address it before it escalates to radicalisation.

To educate parents and community leaders on human rights in Australia and the adverse effects of early marriage on young women (as supported by international scholarship), and how it may impact on empowering women and family dynamics, ultimately preventing radicalisation and extremist behaviour.

‘Teeth Tales’ Program Conclusion

‘Teeth Tales’ Program

The last financial year saw the ‘Teeth Tales’ program initiated which included VASS and a number of other health and welfare organisation. It was inspired by an academic study at the University of Melbourne which identified migrant and ethnic communities and their lack of understanding and access to oral health. The main communities identified were Iraqi, Lebanese and Pakistani communities, however the program as welcome to many other communities. The program was focussed on young children and toddlers as well as babies developing teeth problems.

The program was run with a project team staff from the McCaughey Centre and Merri Community Health Services (MCHS) along with VASS, Arabic Welfare and the Pakistan Australia Association Melbourne Inc. as cultural partners. Study partners included members from Moreland City Council, North Richmond Community Health Centre, the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) and Yarra City Council. Furthermore, a number of members from the University of Melbourne, who lead the research and project management, as well as scientific investigation, were joined with other science academics from Deakin, LaTrobe and Cardiff Universities as well as the University College in London and Dental Health Services Victoria.

The first element of the program was a test screening, in which VASS and other organisations sought voluntary participation from a number of community groups for an oral health assessment. There was a healthy response from many participants, and VASS had identified an overarching language accessibility barrier in participants from Assyrian and Arabic speaking communities from diverse countries such as Turkey, Iraq, New Zealand, Canada, the Middle East and of locally from Australia. The second stage of testing was done with a comparison group which further progressed into an oral health education program including an emphasis on existing health projects such as Smiles4Miles, Eat Well, Drink Well, Clean Well, Play Well and Stay Well, which educated participants about how daily activities such as eating can have an impact on oral health and dental hygiene. Furthermore, a child oral health education session was run which provided an opportunity for both parents and grandparents of children aged 0-5 years to recognise the importance of oral health in relation to general health, increase parental knowledge about such health issues and link parents to local cultural networks and develop parent support networks.

VASS has seen a remarkable amount of success in increasing access to health and identifying gaps in existing health services. Offering a social based understanding of oral health, many people from non- English speaking backgrounds have been able to be educated about oral health, especially for children in early years of development. The mutual findings between the education and scientific institutions and ethnic-based social services has benefited all participants and organisations greatly, and VASS is proud to have been part of a broad community engaging program, which it believes has set the framework for future understandings of access to health and barriers in understanding the importance of oral health and accessibility to its services.

On conclusion of the program, toothpaste, both adult and child toothbrushes and information kits in Arabic were distributed to attendees – to foster increased oral health care.

Thank you to all who attended and supported the successful program.