Preparing for a new life
A PIONEERING program to get people with limited English language skills into vocational training celebrated the completion of their course with a picnic in the park in Lismore yesterday.
The Bridge to Children's Services program was designed by ACE Community College to give people from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds an opportunity to improve their literacy, numeracy and general education while also completing a Certificate III in Child Services.
Of the 11 students who originally enrolled, all completed the course and seven have already picked up casual work.
The students come from Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some have escaped war and brutal regimes and spent many years in refugee camps before re-settling in Lismore.
ACE Community College's general education coordinator, Kirsten Elliott said the course was assisted by a State Government grant from the Department of Education and Communities.
"ACE's social inclusion funding allows us to be creative and to respond to the community's needs and this (course) has done that in spades," she said.
"It has allowed for some accelerated learning from people who are motivated to find a job and support their families, and also built self esteem."
Course coordinator Natalie Hannah said with so many different languages and cultural experiences within the group, there were significant challenges to overcome.
"There were several cultural understanding issues where people might sometimes assume that everybody raises children in the same way, but even within our own culture this is not the case so we did get some different perspectives," she said.
Sina Yang moved to Australia from Cambodia 15 months ago and said the course had been a fantastic opportunity to improve her language skills and she hopes to go on and do a diploma of child care next year.