We’ve said it before but it definitely bears repeating, volunteers are the lifeblood of the ASRC.
From greeting people seeking asylum as they enter the doors of the ASRC’s Home of Hope, to providing emotional support through casework support and providing connection through Community English classes, volunteers are the cornerstone of the compassionate and caring ASRC community.
It is of no surprise that when speaking with many volunteers about why they joined the ASRC their motivation was to provide connection, create community and find a tangible way to make a difference.
We caught up with a few amazing vollies to find out what they do at the ASRC to support people seeking asylum and why they do it.
Eva Jordens, Community Organiser Volunteer
Eva first visited the ASRC in high-school, when she organised a drive for the centre’s food bank: she was immediately impressed with the scale of the organisation.
With her continued interest in human rights and activism, it’s hardly surprising that she found her way back to ASRC as a Community Organiser Volunteer in 2019.
“I really wanted to join the organisation to build my skills, connect with other people, and fight for refugee justice.”
Volunteering for the ASRC has helped Eva to develop her understanding of community organising – especially how much work goes on behind the scenes to push for policy change and mobilise support. It has also helped her get through the challenges of the lockdown last year.
“Being able to connect with people online and continue my volunteering was a great way to get me through lockdown, maintain connections, and feel I was doing something productive and meaningful.”
Carole Poon, Employment Advisor
Carole started volunteering for the ASRC in 2016. She was already a donor, but negative media coverage and harsh government policies toward people seeking asylum made her want to do something more to help.
She was amazed by the range of services the ASRC offers: from advocacy, to education, employment, and food bank initiatives.
Volunteering has made her appreciate just how difficult it is for people seeking asylum, but it has also inspired her to do what she can to help.
Carole trained as a medical research scientist, and throughout her career she has supervised and mentored many students. Carole draws on this experience in her role as a Volunteer Employment Advisor at the ASRC, where she loves helping people to become job ready.
“It was just so wonderful to see how excited members were when they started their jobs at the ASRC, because they feel safe and at home in this environment.”
“It is an honour to meet all these different people and hear their stories – and wonderful to help them reach their goals. It makes me want to do more, actually!”
Kevin Williams-Besy, Legal Casework Volunteer
Kevin has always been interested in human rights. Growing up in Darwin, he heard of the ASRC’s work from former refugees. So when the opportunity arose to volunteer for the ASRC’s legal team, he jumped on it.
Kevin is a Legal Casework Volunteer with the ASRC but the highlight of his day is sharing a meal with the people who access our services through our daily community food hot lunches (which are still on pause due to COVID restrictions).
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know clients, what they’re like, and how compassionate they are, after everything they’ve been through.”
Recently admitted as a solicitor, Kevin says that a lot of what he’s learnt about how to practice law has come from the guidance and training of lawyers he’s worked with at the ASRC.
Alan Balloch, Continuous Quality Improvement (Health)
A Footscray local, Alan started volunteering alongside his wife Anne in 2019, with the aim of facilitating improvements to the ASRC’s health programme.
“To see the extent of the programmes and services being offered, and the application and motivation of the people at the ASRC, only reinforced my admiration.”
Within a few weeks of Alan joining the ASRC, he was lucky enough to attend the ASRC’s end-of-year celebrations.
“To see the number of people committing to the organisation, and members coming into the centre to avail themselves of the services and meals, was heartwarming.”
“We realise how fortunate we are, and that motivated us to give something back.”
Lyn Crellin, Caseworker (Client Services)
Lyn joined the ASRC 8 years ago, because she wanted to convey a message to people seeking asylum: that not all Australians share the views of our government.
“Because I am – and have been for so long – appalled by the way the federal government treats people who come here looking for safety, I wanted to make a difference to their experience of Australia.”
In her volunteer role as a Caseworker in Client Services, Lyn helps clients access much-needed services, such as housing and other essentials and gets a great sense of satisfaction whenever she’s able to link someone to the help that they need, and especially when that need is rental assistance.
“It wasn’t until I began to volunteer that I realised just how dire the plight of those seeking asylum is, and this reinforced my decision to join ASRC’s efforts to assist them.”
Thank you to everyone of our past and current volunteers who have devoted their time and skills to making a difference in the lives of people seeking asylum, you are a rare kind of generous.
Volunteering roles at the ASRC are as varied and unique as the people who work them and we have roles to suit everyone.
Find out more about volunteering at the ASRC and register your interest here.Leave a reply