History of AMES Australia

From humble beginnings teaching English to new arrivals in makeshift classrooms in Nissen Huts in northern Victoria, AMES Australia has grown to be one of Australia’s leading settlement agencies, delivering services to over 30,000 clients a year.

Formally established in 1951, the organisation’s antecedents were the hundreds of dedicated teachers who selflessly volunteered their time to help the thousands of new arrivals from post-war Europe to successfully settle in Australia through the acquisition of English language skills.

Over the years AMES Australia has continued to grow in numbers and expand its services.

The organisation has been at the forefront of significant social change, supporting new arrivals as they begin to contribute economically and socially to our diverse communities.  AMES Australia was part of the birth of multiculturalism, a term that was new in the 1970s but which now is accepted as an accurate description of the cultural and ethnic diversity of contemporary Australia.

In many ways, the story of AMES Australia is also the story of post war immigration and multiculturalism.

Since 1945 almost eight million people from 180 countries have migrated to Australia.  2016 Census data has revealed that almost a third of Australia's population was born overseas, almost half have at least one overseas-born parent.

AMES Australia staff are proud of the role they have played in successfully settling hundreds of thousands of new arrivals through a broad range of settlement, English language and employment services.

The organisation uses a unique strengths-based approach to successful settlement, which recognises and harnesses the resilience of refugees and migrants and builds on their strengths.

Each year it supports newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to settle here through orientation programs, English tuition, vocational skills training and employment services.

Under its vision of ‘full participation for all in a cohesive and diverse society’, the organisation supports migrants and refugees to achieve their social and economic goals.

From the early 2000s AMES Australia began delivering the federal government’s humanitarian settlement program, helping refugees from the world’s conflict establish new lives in Australia.

AMES Australia is now a leading provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services to refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants in Australia.

A statutory authority of the Victorian Government, the organisation manages a range of federal and state government contracts including the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP), the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and Workforce Australia. 

Each year AMES Australia assists more than 30,000 people to find their places in Australian society and it touches the lives of more than 250,000 people from Australia’s diverse communities.

The organisation’s programs are aimed at fostering a sense of belonging among our clients and they recognise that social participation is a key ingredient in maintaining social cohesion.

AMES Australia also works to create community links between its clients and the broader society.

Among the organisation’s programs are the management of Melbourne’s vibrant Multicultural Hub - a vital facility for the city’s diverse communities – as well as social enterprises that provide training and work experience, cultural and artistic events and youth-based initiatives.

AMES has built a range of partnerships with universities, TAFEs, migrant resource centres, health professionals, real estate and community organisations. The four economic and social determinants of Health and Wellbeing, Education, Employment and Safety and Security are what AMES focuses on to deliver its vision of “full participation for all in a cohesive and diverse society”.

The organisation’s innovative and flexible approach has benefitted hundreds of thousands of individuals and families and helped them to become migrant ‘success stories.

AMES now has a network of more than 500 volunteers and 600 paid staff members – 43 per cent of whom were born overseas. Collectively, they speak more than 90 languages.