- Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 November 2012 13:21
Multicultural Development Association
Multicultural Development Association (MDA) handles the resettlement of newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers to Queensland. Their volunteers are central in this settlement as they are the cultural bridge to understanding Australia and its people.
They also offer volunteer lead English programs, social outings, much of their administration is undertaken by volunteers and their major events are carried out specifically by volunteers. MDA have also taken the stance that they look to their volunteers and their skill level and try to develop programs around this.
MDA have approximately 250 volunteers who are involved on a daily basis – some volunteer weekly or others may only be able to donate several hours a week. Their volunteers from multicultural backgrounds are extremely important in resettlement as they are much better equipped to understand the kind of issues that their clients may face and they can connect then to other members of their communities and greater support networks.
Engaging volunteers from culturally diverse backgrounds
Many of their culturally diverse volunteers have arrived as refugees or asylum seekers and like to give back to the country that they now call home. Many feel a great debt to their service as they can imagine how difficult their settlement would have been without MDA's support. For some of the female volunteers this may be their first foray into the realm of employment and volunteering offers them an opportunity to experience Australian work culture.
Strategies that have helped engage and retain volunteers from culturally diverse backgrounds
Owning ties with community groups and their leaders is a central part of their strategy. This enables them to use word of mouth to advertise their programs. They run two major projects each year (World Refugee Day and The Refugee Lantern Parade) and these are very high profile events which offer a lot of networking opportunities with potential volunteers.
They have very strong ties with Centrelink and the Department of Immigration and have many new volunteers who have been referred to their program via these contacts. Many of these newly arrived migrants are highly skilled but are looking to gain valuable Australian work place experience and volunteering gives them this opportunity.
MDA is also involved with many of the universities that have international students or students from a refugee background. Each semester they speak at their orientation days so that they can provide information about all of the diverse programs on offer.
Find out more about MDA