Community Disability Capacity – Building Project 2018-2019

Dịch Vụ Hỗ Trợ Cho các Gia Đình Việt Nam về vấn đề Khuyết Tật
Trieu Tran

The project is funded by the Department of Human Services to provide assistance to Vietnamese people with disabilities, their carers and their families. It aims to raise awareness about disability issues, promote access and equity in the Vietnamese community. Therefore, working partnership with other relevant organisations is critical way to provide best benefit for the target groups. The Project Worker has worked together with Local Council, Department of Health & Human Services, Monash Health, Alfred Health Carer Services, Springvale Learning and Activities Centre, Hepatitis Victoria, Aged Care Services Australia Group, Vision Australia, RDNS, Southern Health, Migrant and Refugee Centre, Asthma Foundation, Carers Victoria Human Services, Leadership Plus,  Migrant Information Centre (Eastern Melbourne), Australian Hearing, Springvale Neighbourhood House, local pharmacies and other disability service providers in order to enhance the quality of life for Vietnamese with a disability and their families. It is also planned to provide the cross-culture training for service providers in the South East Region. Most Vietnamese with a disability and their families has accessed services such as Speech pathologist, Respite, sport for all ability, school holiday and recreation programs. The Vietnamese Carer Group at SICMAA has been well established and has been provided with up-to-date information, referrals, friendship, social and emotional support for its members.

SICMAA work with families and carers to make sure the support we give can be sustained. We consider the carer’s role when developing plans with participants including the support they provide, other responsibilities, and their own life plans. We also recognise some people with disability may want the support of family and carers to make informed decisions, and we value their views, knowledge and experience.

The following activities were carried out throughout the financial year of 2018-2019.

  • Information Session on “NDIS Update” at SICMAA by VALID (Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability) on 3 August 2018
  • Information Session on “Your Life Assist” by Your Life Assist on 26 November 2018
  • Carry out the Vietnamese Carer Group meeting at SICMAA once a month to provide up-to-date information, friendship, social and emotional support carers
  • Continue to maintain 2-hour practical physical health workshop at 1 Osborne Ave Springvale for carers to provide them opportunity to enhance their health and wellbeing and to enhance their resilience

During the financial year 2018-2019, the Project Worker worked two and a half days a week. Last year, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been rolled out throughout Victoria and has become available in the Southern Melbourne area from 1 September 2018. Consequently, the role of the Project Worker has been diminished at the end of the year 2018.


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South East Family Service

Dịch Vụ Hỗ Trợ Gia Đình
My Dung Nguyen

This program primary focuses on the family’s ability to manage day-to-day living task such as parenting skills, household management, childcare and nurture, child behaviour and the use of support services in the South Eastern region  of Melbourne.

The aims of this program are:

  • To prevent family violence and child abuse.
  • To strengthen family relationships.
  • To enhance the safety, confidence, life skills and independence of women.
  • To promote family harmony
  • To provide emergency relief

The target group I have been working with is Indo-Chinese families that have children under 18 years old living in City of Greater Dandenong, Casey, and Cardinia. The program has received referrals from different sources such as Centrelink, local schools, community agencies, Community health services, and even requests for help by the families themselves. Issues presented by clients vary in many different ways. The most and common issues are:

  • Lack of English language skills
  • Court Orders
  • Accommodation
  • Financial problems
  • Family breakdown, generation conflicts between parents and children, and between siblings as well as family violence.
  • Children have difficulties at school or are at risk of leaving school
  • Mental health and gambling issues
  • Lack of knowledge about existing services and legal system
  • Cultural barriers in approaching government agencies and using services
  • Marginalisation and isolation from the wider community, cultural shock of living and adapting to new life, lack of support from extended family due to living in Australia
  • Lack of knowledge of educational and employment opportunities
  • Lack of confidence, low self-esteem due to the above mentioned issues

As an In-home support worker, I have assisted the family to make changes in practical ways and to learn new skills by providing short-term assistance to the family for a time of 6 –8 weeks. Outreach to a family also would be provided at least one a week for 1 to 2 hours. Services have been provided to families to develop strategies for maintaining positive family relations and families with setting boundaries and other parenting skills and at times provide financial and other assistance to families in crisis.

Services are accordingly provided to meet clients’ needs as follows:

  • Case management
  • Assisting and encouraging clients to use services available in the South Eastern areas.
  • Advocating on behalf of clients in dealing with departments and agencies such as Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support, Australian Taxation Office, schools, Courts, Department of Health and Human Services including Child Protection, Legal Aid Services, Community Health Services, Job Network agencies etc.
  • Referring clients to and supporting them at interviews with other services.
  • Empowering women to strengthen their confidence, encouraging them to attend English classes and to develop their career paths and education.
  • Crisis intervention in family violence cases/child abuse, providing short to medium term counselling and ongoing support to women and children, home visiting when necessary.
  • Working closely with in-home Gambling counselling services as well as Family violence support service in order to support families with these related matters. Liaising with workers from other agencies to set up a supporting network for women and children.
  • Organising parenting groups with Uniting Family services at SICMAA’s office.
  • Providing positive parenting skill information.

In reviewing the work program, it is proven that this is a vital program that enables me to perform my duties within its framework with limited resources. Besides, this program provides adequately services according to the needs of clients and our community both in case work and community development aspects. The worker also works closely with other in-house programs at SICMAA so we can joint programs/activities which benefit clients and the community as a whole. Consultations have been undertaken immediately with SICMAA’s Management and South East Family Services Group Manager as soon as there are any issues arise in my work.


Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to:

  • The Program Leader South East Family Services – Uniting – Connections
  • The President of SICMAA – Ms Be Ha J.P
  • Steve Hunt and & Elaine Chua – South East Family Services- Uniting Connections and
  • All staff at SICMAA who support me to fulfill my task.
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Teaching Team

  • Mr Chu Nguyen – Bi Lingual Vietnamese/English support for all students.
  • Mrs Jill McFarlane – Reading comprehension and conversation for post beginners.
  • Ms Suzanne Albert – English for post beginner students.
  • Mrs Jenny Dusting – Introduction to English and conversation for beginners and post beginners.
  • Mr John Keysers – Conversation class for students of all levels.Ms. Vandana – IT session

This year we are fortunate to have obtained the services of Mr John Keysers who has joined the teaching team. He is working on English conversation with all students.

The students studying with Vandana have produced some excellent computer programs which they have shown us recently.

The teachers have been very happy to welcome new students to our classes and value the attendance of our faithful students who have been with us for many years.

MONDAY CLASSES 11:45am – 1:45 pm
Suzan Albert

Language forms the most essential bridges between people. We need it to communicate, to work and to deal with daily life.

Participants attending English Language Classes at SICMAA are keen to improved their English skills, but our classes aim to do much more.

In addition to teaching the foundations of English language, lessons aim to connect students to Australian life, be it an encounter with customs officers at the airport, learning about our history and culture or discussing the Great Barrier Reef.

Beyond Australia, we aim to provide bridges to the rapidly-changing world, so that students are able to understand and discuss current news stories and important issues.

A major goal is to give class members the confidence to speak. Hence, they are always encouraged to practise pronunciation, contribute to discussions and ask questions. Often, their questions lead us in new directions and to new topics. Hence the SICMAA program is planned, but flexible, to fit the needs, interests and concerns of the students.

In Term 1 of 2019, the extreme summer led us to discussions about climate change. There was much new vocabulary to learn, along with adjectives and comparative words; we certainly needed “hot, hotter, hottest” last summer!

Students also located Victoria’s major rivers and water catchments on a map.

After a term spent discussing our climate and landscapes, writer Dorothea Mackellar had the last word with her iconic poem “My Country”, a wonderful example of how words can describe our sunburnt country.

In Term 2, our focus was on people. How do we tell life stories?

Each week, we met the famous Australians pictured on our money, which in turn led to discussions on early settlers, social history, women in politics and national heroes.

We also read the stories of ordinary people and students wrote about their own mothers’ lives. To do this, they had to learn how to write a complete sentence and how to describe a special person.

In Term 3 of 2019, we asked the question: What is in your suitcase? Dealing with officials can be especially difficult when you lack confidence in your English skills. In class we re-enacted customs inspections with a bag of food items to declare.

Further lessons looked in detail at the reasons for Australia’s strict quarantine laws. We read about many examples of pests and diseases that have arrived on our shores uninvited, and we discussed the serious consequences. Fire ants seemed especially alarming to us all. Students also researched problem animals and plants that have been deliberately brought to Australia, presenting short talks to the class on cane toads, rabbits and more.

Lastly, after locating our states on a map, we discussed quarantine restrictions at state borders.

Throughout Term 3, we focused on “numbers” and how to say them in various situations. Duty-free limits and the number of red foxes in Australia (6 million!) provided practical examples.

In Term 4 we will talk about the latest scams, public transport, housing options for the aging, the recycling problem facing our local councils and what’s new in Melbourne.

Each week, the goal is that students leave the classroom having learnt new words, a better way of saying something, feeling more confident to use their English and thinking, “That was interesting.”

Above all, SICMAA is a place where students and teachers come together to share laughter, support and friendship. These are the most important connections of all.

TUESDAY CLASSES 11:45am – 1:45 pm
Mixed Abilities Class
Jill McFarlane

It is hard to believe another year has come and gone so quickly.

It is a pleasure to teach my Tuesday English class at SICMAA. The students are always keen to learn and expand their knowledge of English in the spoken and written form. It is encouraging to see them ask for assistance and to clarify information, vocabulary or situations they are unfamiliar with. In particular, it is pleasing to see a greater number of students participate in discussions. Always ready for some fun and a laugh, the students enthusiastically compete in games and quizzes.

In Term 1 we concentrated on road safety, road rules and driving etiquette. Completing a VIC Roads’ road rule quiz each week highlighted areas that needed revision while also demonstrating improvement.

With a Federal election looming in Term 2, we studied the budget and the policies of the two main parties. We also looked at banking, shopping and reading our utility bills and different methods to pay them.

During third term we studied the processes of buying and selling a home.

This term we are investigating sport and its importance to Australians, the role of pets in our lives and colour. We have also planned a trip to the Fitzroy Gardens later this term.

Many new faces have joined our class in 2019. It is always pleasing to see our regular students embrace the newcomers and their presence has led to a more diverse and interactive class.

Many thanks to all of the students for their attendance, participation and ongoing friendship.


WEDNESDAY CLASSES 11:45am – 1:45 pm
Conversational English
John Keysers

Participant comments

1.I am the oldest participant in the class and English takes time for me to learn. John is helping me to understand English step by step. This makes me happy. Everyone in the class is warm and friendly. I also want to say thank you to SICMAA and all of the teachers.

2.When I am in the class with John, I feel interested because he works with me to understand the English language.

3.I can practice listening and speaking in English in the class with John.

4.John teachers us to pronounce new words which we may not have spoken properly before. Sometimes he uses conversations about food and cooking to expand our English.

5.When I came to Australia, I could not speak English but now my children are grown up I have the time to come to SICMAA to learn English. Now I am very happy because I enjoy English classes.

6.I feel very comfortable; all of the class are very friendly. John gives me more confidence to speak English.

7.I don’t hear or speak English very well. I go to English classes at SICMAA so that I can speak to other people in the community. I like SICMAA. Thank you very much.

8.When I came to Australia I arrived on a bridging visa. I did not know about SICMAA or other community support groups. I have now been learning English at SICMAA and my English is improving. I am very grateful to SICMAA.

9.I have tried conversation with John about food and I feel comfortable to do this.

Facilitator and Coach

Be Ha called me one day while I was on holiday in Melbourne. She told me that she needed someone to take a Conversational English group at SICMAA and asked me if I could help out. Be Ha is very persuasive, so I agreed to begin at SICMAA at the beginning of Term 3 in July. In the first session there were ten people who I am sure were all wondering who this new person was, a big man with a big voice!

It has taken a little while, but I think most people are now comfortable with how I approach our two hours together every Wednesday morning. The group includes eight to ten people who come every week and about seven or eight others who come occasionally. Over the past few months we have tried to engage each other in conversation using topics such as:

  • Telling personal stories
  • Talking about favourite recipes and how to cook delicious food
  • Using pictures of food to talk about what we see
  • Watching and discussing videos of everyone taking about food
  • Talking about things in the daily news
  • Reading and talking about stories, poetry, legends and folktales

Meeting with the group each Wednesday is something I look forward to because everyone is so good nature, and we are getting better and better at being able to engage in conversation in a very sociable, respectful and positive way. Along the way I hope that everyone feels that their ability to converse in English is improving.



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Working In A Multicultural Society

Chu Nguyen

Society is comprised of many communities living together. A multicultural society is where values, beliefs, languages and certain conventions are distinctly different from our own. Although working in a multicultural or culturally diverse society comes with its own unique challenges, it also has many benefits. To create an ideal multicultural workplace, we can become more knowledgeable about key cultural aspects, such as:

  1. Assertiveness (skills, technology, methods, knowledge)
  2. Body language
  3. Communication styles
  4. Conflict
  5. Eye contact
  6. Gestures
  7. Humour
  8. Information collection
  9. Physical space
  10. Power
  11. Silence
  12. Time
  13. Wording
  14. Greeting(a)

Differences between cultures can be resolved harmoniously. There are no universal laws to ensure conformity in each culture, however, there are four basic guidelines:

  1. Be aware of your personal bias, style, preferences and focus
  2. Each part of an organisation or firm has its own unique culture
  3. Convey to others that you respect their culture
  4. Work in a manner compatible with the culture of the firm(b)

These guidelines are successfully applied in multicultural societies, including Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States of America. The guidelines are witnessed in many sectors, such as manufacturing, services and education.

In summary, mutual understanding and tolerance, co-operation and effort, good opportunities and planning, finance and well-allocated time will assure success.

Have a try, mate!

A Settler


(a,b) Adapted from “Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development” book, select “Publications” at

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International Refugee Week


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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Christmas background with Merry Christmas and happy new year 201

Christmas background with Merry Christmas and happy new year 2019

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Mrs. Be Ha, J. P.

Dear Friends,

Time flies so fast when we are so busy with our work, family and having fun.  Another year is over and it seemed like only yesterday that we just celebrated SICMAA’s 35th Anniversary in 2017.

On behalf of SICMAA’s Committee of Management, I would like to thank all of our workers, supporters, advisers, consultants and certainly volunteers.  I know every year we thank these special group of people because we would not be where we are today without them, especially the volunteers.

This year a new group of volunteers came forward, worked around the clock and helped SICMAA out of one of our biggest challenge to date.  Our computer and information system was compromised and held ransom.  Years of work and our client data was compromised and might not have been able to be retrieved.  The ransomware held our computer and information systems and unless we paid the said amount, the ransomware would only then release our data.

This was a lesson learnt that it does not matter how big or small an organisation is or whether it is a private, public or charity organisation, even though ransomware does not discriminate, it tends to pick on the smaller organisations because the smaller organisations like SICMAA, does not have the money, nor the capacity or the expertise to prevent and fix the problem adequately in a timely manner.

Luckily for SICMAA we have many friends and volunteers.  The volunteers are experts in their fields, namely IT security, and were able to solve the issue, recovered the data and had our computer system up without paying any ransom.  The volunteers faced a lot of challenges, work full time but volunteered their time after hours and late into many nights to get us out of trouble.

Many years we thank and dedicate our love and thanks to our volunteers but again, we want to dedicate this year, not just to our group of volunteers, but all the volunteers around the world who give up their time with their families, lent us their knowledge, wisdom and expertise, and their love and compassion to help another human being to make this world a better place to live in.

Thank you for all your support and attending SICMAA’s 2018 AGM.  We hope you enjoy this year’s AGM and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Be Ha JP
Springvale Indo-Chinese Mutual Assistance Association


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SICMAA 36th AGM Booklet

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SICMAA 36th AGM Booklet

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