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National Volunteer Week: Tutors and students ‘better together’

By Fiona West | May 5, 2022
Woman holding award standing with another woman

The theme for National Volunteer Week (16-22 May) is ‘Better Together’ and Navitas Skilled Futures is demonstrating this concept through its Volunteer Tutor Scheme (VTS) where hundreds of volunteers help to improve the lives of refugees and migrants.

The scheme, which is free to eligible people as part of the Australian Government’s Adult Migrant English Program* (AMEP), assists those who need extra support learning English, through one-on-one tuition.

Volunteer numbers swelled during the pandemic and COVID lockdowns in Sydney, but with people returning to work and adjusting to new jobs, Navitas now needs more volunteers to help keep people’s settlement journeys on track. The commitment is just one hour of your choosing per week and no teaching experience is necessary. Free training, resources and ongoing support are provided.

Navitas Skilled Futures VTS coordinator Marcella Aguilar (pictured above right) says that while the volunteer tutor’s primary purpose is to help students with English, they often have a much broader role of providing friendship, cultural information and assistance with the students’ everyday needs.

“It’s an opportunity to engage with members of your local community who are new arrivals and assist them in the settling process by providing individualised language support,” she said.

“It is hugely rewarding as tutors really do make a difference and have a lasting impact on someone’s life … and they also get to learn about a new culture themselves.”

Volunteering Australia says volunteering “brings people together; it builds communities and creates a better society for everyone”. Marcella emphasises how the VTS is the perfect example of this. She has trained hundreds of tutors from all backgrounds and walks of life, including doctors, lawyers, students, stay-at-home parents, retirees and even refugees/migrants who want to give back after going through the program themselves.

“I love to receive feedback from tutors about our client successes, when they get a job, start a certificate course, use a computer or access the internet for the first time, learn how to access services and achieve their learning goals, which in turn makes their life in Australia so much easier,” she said.

Navitas Skilled Futures is currently seeking interested people to train as volunteer tutors, with a particular need for females in the Fairfield/Liverpool area, which has a high demand for Arabic speakers. However you do not need to speak a second language to join the program.

National Volunteer Week is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteers and runs from Monday 16 to Sunday 22 May 2022. The week acknowledges the significant contribution of almost six million volunteers who dedicate over 600 million hours to help other Australians.

For more information about the Volunteer Tutor Scheme, or to register your interest, visit the Volunteer page.

VTS Case Studies at NSF:

Read Jo and Nu’s story here.

Read Elsy and Sandi’s story here.

*The VTS is part of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.

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