Antoinette Uwera: Asylum Seekers Centre
Antoinette gives back to the community that supported her
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled The Asylum Seekers Centre to execute two different programs targeted to children and their families.
One programme is a weekly child minding by trained multicultural carers who care for children 0-5yrs whilst their parents (mostly mothers) attend important appointments at ASC, like health, legal, employment, casework and English classes.
The other is a Ready for School program which supports children to access schools and provides essentials for children to start school with the equipment and uniforms they need. This programme also covers the costs of enrolling children into school through the Temporary Residents Programme at the Department of Education.
Antoinette Uwera knows firsthand that the right support at the right time can be life-changing for refugees seeking asylum in Australia. As a family engagement worker at the Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC), she connects families to education and community services, helping them navigate unfamiliar and complex systems.
"To be able to help our clients by looking after their children professionally has been a great help. The parents now have peace of mind when they have to attend important appointments
knowing that their children are in a safe place. This has also allowed the parents the time to learn English or new skills and this has contributed to them being in a better position to support their families.
The Ready for School programme has taken the stress out of getting the children into school and has meant that they settle can integrate into the school community with ease, with the correct uniform and equipment. Once the child is feeling more settled, we can see a positive effect on the whole family too.
The Westfield Local Heroes raised awareness of our services more broadly via their online promotions. I think having this public profile helped me to be taken seriously when running our latest campaign to get pre-school places through local councils. I was invited to speak to different child care providers and tell them more about our work, which has led to a great new pilot progra mme for our pre-school aged children".