When seven year-old Gianna Vorrasi arrived in Australia in 1966 with her mother and four siblings, she couldn’t speak a word of English.
“Like so many other people who migrated as children, I learnt English very quickly and was able to interpret for Mum and Dad, and help them learn too,” Gianna explained.
Now a Multicultural Service Officer with the Department of Human Services, Gianna helps newly arrived residents navigate our payments and services.
Because of her own experiences, Gianna can easily relate to the challenges many families have when they move to a new country.
“My father moved to Australia first and my mother raised five children on her own in Italy before we moved to be with Dad. I think this time would have been very, very difficult for my mother,” Gianna said.
“My husband and I ran a pizza bar before I started with the department and we raised two children during this time. Being a parent can be challenging, so what my Mum did on her own was very impressive. I really feel that she’s my hero.”
Each day as a Multicultural Service Officer is different.
A typical day may include outreach work with community organisations, connecting customers with local service providers and promoting the ways the department provides services to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
“I also support our staff with how to communicate successfully with customers using a professional interpreter,” says Gianna.
“I understand the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse people because I’ve lived that situation myself.”
Gianna also assists Italian speakers through her involvement with the Radio Italiana program, based in Adelaide.
“Each month I’m able to provide information about the department in Italian that listeners wouldn’t otherwise have access to. For example updates and changes to pensions and carer payments.”
“When my Mum first heard me on the radio, she was excited and told me she was really proud of me.”
The variety of the work is what Gianna enjoys most about her role.
“It’s so rewarding being a Multicultural Service Officer. It’s such a varied and interesting role, and I really do love it.”
Read more about our Multicultural Service Officers.