Connecting the dots

The rising cost of living is impacting Australians all around the nation and migrants and refugees are not excluded from the equation. 

Multicultural Services Centre WA is the largest multicultural service provider in the state.

CEO Ramdas Sankaran says it’s important to remember refugees and ethnic groups come from different backgrounds, translating into each individual having a different living experience in Australia.

“I think you need to acknowledge the fact that migrants and ethnic communities are not homogenous, they are heterogenous,” he says.

Listen to more from Ramdas Sankaran.

MSCWA runs a host of programs such as emergency relief, jobs and skills support, which are available to all people, regardless of their visa status.

Mr Sankaran says there should be a focus on making the available services more accessible to everyone.

“What we need is to ensure that whatever programs are in place, are accessible by refugees,” he says.

“If you walk through our doors, whether you’re a migrant or a refugee, you’re going to get the same assistance.”

Listen to more from Ramdas Sankaran on the work of multicultural service providers.

Western Australian Multicultural Association president Tim Benson says intercultural spaces can support migrants and refugees through the challenging financial times. 

“The hubs in a way, do help because quite often a lot of them have an exchange system, where somebody swaps an item in exchange for another,” he says.

“There’s a bit of a cost saving, in that sort of bartering system, and quite a few of the hubs do facilitate that sort of exchange.”

Tim Benson, president of Western Australian Multicultural Association. Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

The City of Canning has joined other multicultural organisations by establishing the first intercultural centre in Perth’s south, Hillview Intercultural Community Centre, which recently celebrated six months of opening its doors to the public in Bentley. 

Over the past few months, the space has grown into a hub for connection, learning, and sharing – with a range of workshops for both adults and children taking place on a regular basis. 

50 per cent of City of Canning residents are born overseas. Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

Mr Benson says intercultural spaces like Hillview can be important to multicultural communities, because they can allow refugees and migrants to connect with others and transition into the community.

Listen to more from Tim Benson on how intercultural centres can impact the community.
Multicultural centres can provide accessible resources for migrants and refugees. Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

Indian Society of WA is a not-for-profit run by volunteers with a goal to share community and culture. 

President Satish Nair says ISWA supported the community during the pandemic by providing COVID-19 assistance relief, including flights for temporary residents stranded in Western Australia.

The organisation hosts a range of community events which includes free yoga classes and health seminars, and also helps Indian migrants connect to the community. 

ISWA also works to bring awareness to domestic violence within the community. 

“That is one area most of the migrants are hesitant to talk about. We play an important role, we even helped a girl obtain her permanent residency here while she was going through this trauma,” says Mr Nair. 

Mr Nair says being there for migrant communities and making sure they feel that they can reach out and talk to someone, is important in itself. 

ISWA’s annual Diwali Mela event. Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.