Making a new life easier for migrants in Kalgoorlie Boulder

15 September 2011

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Moving to a new country can be daunting. Even more so, if you do not know the language, you arrive in a completely different culture and your friends and family are suddenly far away.

The Frontier Services Kalgoorlie Community Migrant Service provides support and information to help migrants settle in to their new lives.

Silloo Darukhanawallwa, who came to Kalgoorlie-Boulder from Mumbai, India, 10 years ago, said learning a new language was a big challenge for many migrants.

“Also, there is the difference in culture. Indians like to drop in and talk. Everyone is so busy here; you have to check that the person is available at your time and would also like to spend time with you.”

Ms Darukhanawallwa is a mentor with the Community Migrant Service. She provides personal support and encouragement for new migrants.

“I like to help. Knowing that a person is from the same country, we can understand each other and I can relate to what they are feeling as well. I want them to settle down well and realise that people here are very good and they will be happy in time. It’s an adjustment period.”

Community Migrant Worker Elizabeth Coghill said migrants in Kalgoorlie-Boulder came from many different cultural backgrounds with varied needs.

“Kalgoorlie has many strong and supportive cultural groups, but it can take some time for new migrants to establish those networks,” she said. “It can be an isolating experience.”

Migrants who visit the Community Migrant Service can access information on English classes, legal rights, community services, health issues, immigration support and other matters.

Ms Coghill is also there to support migrants as they settle in, assisting them to complete documentation, make appointments and look for a job.

One way she is currently supporting two migrant women is to help them apply for an Australian Driver’s Licence.

“It is a big ambition for these women to get their Driver’s Licence. Being able to understand the language of driving is something we take for granted. For these women, it is very daunting to receive a big book of road rules and have to try and interpret those rules.”

“Gradually the clients who use the service become more confident and skilled and they no longer need my help. That’s a great result.”

The Community Migrant Service works alongside Goldfields Multicultural Association to support migrants and connect them with other people from their culture.

President of Goldfields Multicultural Association Bertie Suwardi: “The Association and the Community Migrant Service basically help each other to connect and support migrants in Kalgoorlie.”

The Community Migrant Service is funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and is available to migrants who meet certain criteria.