Giving back to migrant communities

2 women talking

Today is International Migrants Day, where we recognise the valuable contributions of migrants like Azza Abouesh to our community.

When Azza migrated to Australia from Egypt with her family at five years of age, they didn’t have access to any support services.

As she’d only spoken French at her school in Egypt, she had to learn English.

“I picked it up quite quickly through school, but there was a lot to learn,” Azza said.

“There weren’t any services like there are now – definitely no interpreter services.”

That’s why she’s so passionate about helping migrant communities as a Multicultural Service Officer (MSO) with the Department of Human Services.

The department has around 70 MSOs across Australia who help migrant and refugee communities connect with the services they need.

“This role was pretty much made for my experience,” Azza said. “It’s so varied – one day is not the same as the next.

Azza works with staff in the department to help them understand how to engage with multicultural communities and communicate in a culturally appropriate way.

She also works directly with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Macarthur, NSW, delivering information sessions to community groups and helping them to become self-sufficient.

“A major part of my role is to not only give people access to our services, but also help them to access broader services provided in their local communities,” Azza said.

“Linking people with community groups is incredibly important, as they can help people balance their various priorities to get the best outcome.”

Working as an MSO also gives Azza the chance to use her Arabic language skills to assist customers and the community.

Arabic is one of the department’s most requested interpreted languages. As today is also Arabic Language Day, it’s important to acknowledge the work of MSOs and interpreters in supporting these customers.

“For people to truly understand their rights and obligations, it’s essential we can speak to them in a way they understand,” Azza said.

“It’s a comfort to them to know they’re understood, and that I’m someone they can relate to.

“Knowing I’ve played a role in helping people access the services they need is the most rewarding part on my job.”