The dedication of CatholicCare Tasmania’s Multicultural Services Program (MSP) volunteers to the lives of new humanitarian entrants to the State, was recognised recently with a special Christmas lunch and thank-you held at New Town.
One of 40 male volunteers out of the 167 who give up their time to be a part of theprogram, retiree Tony Heath said he loved being an MSP volunteer.
“I started about 16 months ago because of an awareness of refugees and I wanted to do something to help them,” he said.
“It is great, I love it.”
Mr Heath who also volunteers providing transport to a weekly study group run for students from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, as well as with Second Bite which provides food for those in need in the community, said he found it particularly rewarding to watch the journey of the families he met as an MSP volunteer.
“The different families I meet are one of the greatest rewards,” he said.
“I get on really well with them [and am amazed] seeing how they have travelled and how they have managed to get through, arrived here and how things have improved – especially with what they have experienced.”
“One of the families [I helped] had been in refugee camps for 20 years.”
Mr Heath said he would encourage others to become a MSP volunteer.
“It’s very rewarding and if you are busy you can simply give what you can,” he said.
The MSP program, which provides support for new humanitarian entrants in Hobart, has had the help of more than 600 dedicated volunteers since it began sign-ups in 2005.
MSP Volunteer Coordinator Akia Chabot said every volunteer was an integral part of the program’s success.
“Our volunteers offer a warm welcome to the humanitarian entrants and help orient them to their new life in Tasmania,” he said.
“They set up on arrival accommodation, greet them at the airport, help them with shopping and appointments, teach them how to catch the bus, help get their children enrolled in school, find a rental property and help them learn about Australian customs and language.”
Mr Chabot said the volunteer’s connection with those they helped often went much further than the support they provided.
“The volunteers assist their families for the time that they are with the program and then often keep in touch as friends for many years afterwards,” he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call CatholicCare on 6278 1660 or email Akia