By Phong Nguyen - Director of SICMAA
The highly anticipated Y2K bug has "virtually" come and gone with a lot of anti-climates left behind for many. However, at SICMAA, Y2K has been a year of remarkable growth and recovery. The unexpected change of government in Victoria brought to an end a seven years of competition policy and replaced it with a more need based funding and community consultative approach on important issues that affect both mainstream and Linguistically Diverse Communities.
The past 12 months have seen a lot of significant projects and activities initiated and carried out by SICMAA especially in the area of drug prevention, drug education and young offenders services. It has been a year of further consolidation of SICMAA’s role as one of the major consulting and advisory agencies for governments of all levels on ethnic and community affairs. Once again, it has been a real struggle for me to record every achievement and activity that SICMAA, its staff and the volunteers have done. I am therefore, apologizing for any omission or unrecorded persons or events that I unintentionally left out. Following my general report are the detailed achievements, objectives and major service area reports done by individual staff or groups.
COMMUNITY SETTLEMENT SERVICE:
The main funding for SICMAA’s settlement services for the Vietnamese and Cambodian communities is provided by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs via its CSS Program. Its main objectives are to encourage Indo-Chinese refugees and migrants to use the services available for them at SICMAA’s centre, to assist and enhance their access to mainstream services.
A total of 8650 people, mostly with low income, low English lietracy, elderly and women have contacted and received direct assistance from SICMAA on a wide range of needs such as income support, housing, immigration, consumer rights, health, employment, English and literacy learning, cultural and language maintenance, laws and custom, information, taxation and counselling.
While the biggest and growing problems for the Indo-Chinese communities are still drugs and gambling, other issues such as aged care, effects of the GST on low income earners, primary health, community infrastructure and community support services have emerged as areas require our greater monitoring and attention to ensure our Indo-Chinese have an equality of opportunity and representation across the whole spectrum of Australian society. Within this context, our two CSS workers have incorporated these needs into their funded work programs’ milestones to be delivered in the coming year.
FAMILY SUPPORT AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION SERVICE:
This service is funded by the Department of Human Services for the prevention of domestic violence amongst Indochinese families. Whilst the needs for this service have increased many times over from its inception in 1994, we still only have lesser than .5 of a position to meet these needs. Feedback and contacts have been made to the Department’s South-Eastern Region office on the problem, but so far the answers have been negative. We believe there is a serious lack of willingness on the part of the Southern-Eastern Region Directoriat to address this problem. Compared to number of the Vietnamese workers per capita funded on family support service by the Western Region, S-E Region is shamefully and unacceptably low if not almost non-existent.
Despite lack of resource and time, Miss My Dung Nguyen and then Ms Hien Tran who have taken over the position in June 2000 were trying their utmost to support as many Vietnamnese families as they could while fulfilling the required information sessions and activities for the Vietnamese women in the past twelve months. Working in conjunction with Ms An Nguyen from the Community Aid and Advice Bureau, the workers helped to strengthen the Springvale Vietnamese Women’s Group with additional hours and extra activities beyond what required by the Department. I would like to thank Miss My Dung on behalf of SICMAA for her dedication and great work for the Vietnamese women in the S-E Region as a Family Support Worker.
Youth Housing Service:
SICMAA’s Youth Housing Support service is funded under the Supported Accommodation and Assistance Program (SAAP) from the Department of Human Services. It has been amalgamated and auspices to the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau in 1995. In 1997, this service underwent further changes. SCAAB’s housing services is now auspiced further by Hanover, which won the tender for these services. After much effort, our residents have gradually got used to the new arrangements.
Le Bui, the SAAP worker placed at SICMAA has continued to experience a steady increase of the number of Indochinese people seeking private, government and emergency accommodations, many of those were young people and single mothers. Gambling, drug problems and increased incidents of domestic violence have added extra dimensions to the already "stress-to-the-limit" situation of emergency and medium term housing that the worker has been struggling to accommodate. SICMAA, through Mr Le Bui, has strongly campaigned for special accommodations for Indo-Chinese drug addicted youths and single mothers in the last 12 months. We will continue to advocate for this need.
Rental Housing Co-operative:
Established in 1991, SICMAA’s Springvale Indochinese Common Equity Rental Housing Co-operative, commonly known as SICH-CERC has gone from strength to strength in its development as an effective means to assist low income and newly arrived families in the Indo-Chinese community to find secure and affordable rental homes in Springvale and neighboring areas. SICH-CERC has just had a new Committee of Management this year, we wish them every success.
Community Business Employment Service:
There has been a total change of staff in SICMAA’s Community Employment Service when Danielle Le, the former SICMAA’s CBE Co-ordinator and Diane Tan, the Chinese Employment Liaison Officer decided to move on after 6 years of highly distinguished service at SICMAA.
SICMAA has been so fortunate in having two new fantastic workers to take over this extremly successful and important service. They are: Philip Tu and Kim Nguyen. Philip is the Co-ordinator of the CBE and Kim is the Employment Liaison Officer. Although none of them has had previous experience in employment placement, both workers have, not only wiped out the placement deficit in their 1st month in the job, but achieved the monthly target required ever since. To date, Philip and Kim have exceeded their placement monthly average and achieved 83% retention rate on those they have placed into employment.
Congratulations to Philip and Kim on the job well done, and a big thank-you to all former SICMAA’s CBE workers among whom Danielle Le deserved SICMAA’s deepest gratitude for everything she had done for SICMAA and SICMAA’s CBE service in the last 6 years.
I would like also to express SICMAA’s sincere thanks and gratefulness towards the CBE Steering Committee members for your continued support, expertise and dedication given to the project and the new workers. Without your help, I am certain that SICMAA’s CBE could not succeed as it did in the last twelve months.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING:
SICMAA’s English as a Second Language Courses have been funded by the the Southern Westernport Regional Council of ACFE to provide bilingual supported English learning courses for the Indo-Chinese adult students in the S-E Region of Melbourne.
At the beginning of this year, Mr Hoang Duong, the longest serving teacher and coordinator of SICMAA’s English courses became unwell but refused to give up or reduce his teaching for the students he loved and dedicated all his life in Australia for. Unfortunately, he was later diagnosed as having cancer and were forced to undergo cancer treaments in…To date, Mr Hoang Duong has coped heroically well with the treatments but lost a lot of weight and quite weak. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Hoang and his family members. We, the staff at SICMAA and everyone, the English classes students in particular, are looking forward to welcome back Mr. Hoang Duong to teaching.
I would like to thank especially, Mr. Thu Cong Duong for taking up this very difficult and important service since the day Mr. Hoang Duong left for treatment. My special thanks to all the teachers for your patience, hard work, support and understanding to Mr. Thu Duong and the students during this very difficult time.
Vietnamese Language and Culture Course:
Established in 1995 and initially funded by ACFE, SICMAA’s first Vietnamese Language and Culture Course was proven to be a very popular course for English Speaking People (ESP) in the region. Funding from ACFE was not available in 1996-97, however, with the students’ contribution in tuition fees, the course went ahead. The course has now been recognized and formalised as a Vietnamese Short Course Certificate of Chisholm (formerly Casey) TAFE in 1998. Two students are now still learning Vietnamese at SICMAA weekly.
Ethnic Language School:
SICMAA’s Weekend Ethnic Language School is funded by the State Directorate of School Education to provide Indo-Chinese language teaching and learning on the weekend in Springvale. Today, the school teaches almost exclusively Vietnamese due to the development of Chinese and Cambodian language schools in the Chinese and Cambodian communities. The school has grown in stature, both in terms of quality and number. The current student number at the school in year 2000 is more than 1200 students with the Vietnamese VCE courses available and accredited by the DSE.
1999-2000 has seen an even bigger increase in the amount of training and cultural awareness workshops, talks and seminars that SICMAA facilitated or participated (please view list of activities, training and events at the end of this report). We are looking forward to be able to provide even more training and assisatance to government departments and mainstream service providers in the future, so that government and mainstream services can be better equipped to deal sensitively with Indo-Chinese and/or CLV clients.
My biggest thanks go to the absolutely dedicated volunteers who have been operating the Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian Talking Newspapers Service at SICMAA. Without them, more than three hundred isolated or visually impaired, aged, home bound or illiterate Indo-Chinese people in Victoria and Australia would not have a chance to be in touch with weekly news (national and international) and other useful information such as: changes in social security, immigration, taxation and other laws, and what is happening in their local community, what where and how to get to and/or participate in community events etc….
To me and undoubtedly to SICMAA and all those who are benefit immensely from the Talking Newspapers, the volunteers have done a fantastic job in this unique and important service. Their quiet achievement and continual work often went unnoticed among high profile services in the office, I would like to express how much the Association values and appreciates what the Talking Newspapers volunteers are doing to the community.
Vietnamese Community Radio Program:
After months of preparation and training of broadcasters and operators, on the 8th of August 1997 the first Vietnamese Broadcasting Program in the South-Eastern Region of Melbourne was launched by SICMAA at the Springvale Town Hall. Mr. Quang Luu, Head of the SBS National Radio flew down from Sydney to be SICMAA’s Guest Speaker and to launch the program for us. It was a bright and successful start of a new era of communication for SICMAA. On 8th August this year SICMAA’s Vietnamese program celebrated its 3nd anniversary with a great sense of pride on the success its has achieved so far in providing the Vietnamese community in Melbourne with a diverse range of programs and information in the last three years.
Our greatest thanks go to Mr. Ray Daniels, Principal of Coomoora Secondary College, Mr. Minack, Mr. Kavanagh, members of the Coomoora Secondary College’s broadcasting team for their invaluable contribution to the success of SICMAA’s English program on 3MDR until the second half of 1999. We are also in great debts to the Management of Radio 3MDR and many occasional volunteers who have put so much efforts and time into the production of our successful and important community radio program.
The program is constantly in need of financial support via sponsorships and voluntary broadcasters. If you wish to support this important program in any shape or form, please contact SICMAA’s office during office hours. Following is the detailed information about our Vietnamese and English broadcasting programs:
SICMAA’s Vietnamese Community Broadcasting Program
3MDR - 97.1 FM
Every Sunday from 10am to 12 noon
1999-2000 has been a year of growth for the Springvale Indo-Chinese Elderly Citizens Association (SIECA).
The membership of the Springvale Indo-Chinese Elderly Citizens Association (SIECA) has been steady and stable under the leadership of the Committee of Management of SIECA. Members are meeting regularly every Wednesday at the Springvale Senior Citizens Club in Springvale where regular gentle exercise, cooking class, Chinese chess and information sessions are organised for those who attend.
Under the leadership of Mr. Truyen Thai, President, information sessions on a wide variety of topics were introduced to the members at each of their regular meetings. Few of the key areas of information disseminated over the past twelve months were Social Security changes, Health, Legal and Wills, English learning, Customs, Traveling, Taxation. SIECA also organised successfully two major celebrations: Fathers’ Day and Mothers’ Day, which were very well attended.
SIECA has played a key role in the success of the 1st Vietnamese Elderly State Conference held in August this year by the Vietnamese Community in Victoria. More than 400 Vietnamese elderly from all over Melbourne has gathered for this Conference, nearly 100 of that were from SIECA.
One of the most significant new services set up by SIECA in the last twelve months has been the establishment of a mutual support fund for members of the Association. This fund is used to support the surviving family members of the Association’s members with funeral related costs when they died. So far the fund has attracted more than 100 members to join. We have no doubt, SIECA will continue to grow and contribute a great deal to the welfare of the Indo-Chinese elderly in the State of Victoria in years to come.
CHILDREN AND YOUTH ACTIVITIES:
With great pride, I am pleased to report another successful year of SICMAA’s efforts to provide opportunities and support to our young people.
Year 2000 City of Greater Dandenong Children’s Moon Festival:
Since the initial organisation of this festival in 1994, this originally Vietnamese Children’s Festival has grown fantastically in stature and popularity amongst young people and their family. In 1996, SICMAA decided to transform the festival from a Vietnamese one to a universal festival for all children of the city.
This year more than 1200 children and families attended the concert with many local schools, performing art groups and artists participation. We would like to deeply thank every group, school, parent, business, volunteer and in particularly artist Anh Lan who designed and constructed a magnificant screen for the concert, for their wonderful contributions towards the success of the event. We would like to thank the City of Greater Dandenong’s Council for the invaluable support, both in terms of funding and logistics.
Young Offenders Pilot Program:
SICMAA in partnership with the Springvale Community Health Services has won a tender to provide a Young Offenders Pilot Program with Indo-Chinese Focus in the Southern Metropolitan Region awarded by the Department of Human Services. The project started in January 1999 and two part-time workers have been employed for the project: Mr. Van Bich Nguyen as the Community Development Worker and Miss My Dung Nguyen as the Intensive Support Worker. Van Bich is based at the Springvale Community Health Services and My Dung at SICMAA. With great pride, I would like to report that the project has achieved great results for the young people and their families. On behalf of SICMAA and the families of the young people, I would like to thank and congratulate My Dung and Van Bich for the fantastic work they have done, especially their extraordinary dedication towards the young people and their families. Please spare a moment to view the Miss My Dung’s report on the actual achievements of the program.
CORE Counselling Service:
This important and successful service which was initiated by SICMAA, Dandenong Magistrate Court and Dandenong Correctional Office in the mid 1997 as a pilot project to help Indo-Chinese offenders to receiving intensive assistance in family reconciliation, drug rehabilitation, language and/or vocational training, employment and personal counselling at SICAMAA whilst doing their community work somewhere else in the community.
SICMAA’s pilot project turned out to be such a great success in cutting down markedly the rate of non-compliance to community court Orders amongst the Indochinese offenders in Dandenong that CORE of Victoria subsequently commisioned a research study on the model and announced tenders for a full program in Melbourne this year. SICMAA successfully won a tender to provide the Indo-Chinese offenders in the S-E region with the mentioned service above. Van Bich Nguyen has been the successful applicant for the program’s worker position. Van has begun his full-time job on this new program at SICMAA on 23rd October 2000. His part-time Young Offenders Pilot Project position has been allocated to Mr. Thu Duong who is working part-time for the National Illicit Drugs Prevention Project. This CORE program is funded for two years. Our best wishes to Van in his new position at SICMAA.
National Illicit Drugs Prevention Project:
This is a new 2 years funding project that SICMAA has successfully obtained this year from the Federal Department of Health and Aged Care to carry out preventative and community development programs in the Indo-Chinese communities. Miss My Dung Nguyen left her part-time Family Support Worker position to take up the Information and Resource Officer position and Mr. Thu Duong, the Community Development Officer position. We wish both workers well in their efforts to inform and educate the Indo-Chinese communities on this important issue. Please view a detailed report provided by the two workers in this booklet.
WORK EXPERIENCE AND RESEARCH SERVICES:
Student Work Experience:
SICMAA has always been in great demand from secondary colleges and tertiary institutions to allow their students to carry out work experience or research at its office. Many valuable researches have been carried out at SICMAA or with SICMAA’s participation. These researches also assist SICMAA in identify needs and issues within the communities it serves. Annually and on average, there are about 10 to 12-student placements take place at SICMAA. Like all previous years, the number of request from schools and institutions in 2000 has been high but SICMAA could not accommodate all of them due to staff shortage and lack of space.
Research and Forums:
Research projects that involved SICMAA’s members or staff have been significant in 1999-2000 with more than 69 inquiries and 21 actual projects either initiated or carried out by SICMAA in conjunction with government and community agencies.
SICMAA and its members, workers or representatives have also participated, provided and/or organised more than 90 forums, consultations and seminars in the last 12 months. Please view SICMAA’s Activities Report for some representative details.
I would like to express my gratitude and heartfelt thanks to,
The Committee of Management of SICMAA, especially Ms Be Ha, President for her invaluable support, understanding and accessibility to me and staff throughout the year,
SICMAA’s staff, co-located workers, volunteers for their hard work and dedication,
SICMAA’s CSS consultant Gracie Marzovilla for her patience and understanding,
City of Greater Dandenong, local service providers SCAAB, Centrelink, ATO, MRC etc.. for their co-operation and encouragement,
Federal, State and Local Governments and Departments for their financial, training and informational support,
The Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese Communities in Victoria for their co-operation,
All SICMAA’s affiliated groups and organisations for their solidarity, assistance and participation in all projects and events that SICMAA organised in the past 12 months,
And finally to everybody who has used our services at SICMAA over the years. It was you who had to put up with us when times were tough, when we were understaffed or losing our short term funding and with our shortcomings. On behalf of every staff member, I would like to thank you for your understanding and co-operation. We will try our very best with all our limited resource and skills to improve our service to you in the coming years.