The History of AMES – in 30 Highlights
1. The first Commonwealth Government-assisted program to provide English language tuition for migrants began at Bonegilla in 1948.
2. Adult Migrant Education Services, offering English language courses for post-war migrants in Melbourne created in December 1951.
3. Former world weightlifting champion Yurik Sarkisian, who emigrated from Armenia in 1994, took part in an AMES English course initially so he could decipher his bills.
4. The organisation is renamed in 1997 as Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES).
5. The AMES vision of “full participation for all in a cohesive and diverse society” is created in 1999.
6. Ivan Dimitrov, a Bulgarian executive director of an international airline with a $US 120 million annual turnover, migrates to Australia in 1999 where he works night shifts in a butter-packaging factory for $15 an hour.
7. In March 2001 AMES changed from a services agency within the Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET) to an Adult Education Institution under the Training and Further Education (Amendment) Act 2000,
8. The AMES Employment Skills Centre – an initiative to connect unemployed skilled migrants with job opportunities – opened in July 2003, with state government funding.
9. AMES won a contract in 2005 to provide settlement services to refugees in Australia. It later became the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP).
10. In 2005 with the support of AMES ‘Smart Cuisine’ opened in the Westall Primary School canteen providing students with healthy alternatives to junk food.
11. Another social enterprise ‘Sorghum Sisters’ opened in 2005 at Carlton Primary School and provides fresh African lunches to students there as well as at Brunswick South Primary. The operation was also used by AMES as a training facility for migrants keen on a career in hospitality.
12. From January 1, 2007, AMES began operating under the Education and Training Reform Act.
13. In 2014 AMES Box Hill, in partnership with Whitehorse Council and Life Saving Victoria, set up a swimming program at Box Hill Aqualink in response to several recent drowning deaths involving newly-arrived migrants.
14. Choirmaster and founder of the Choir of Hard Knocks Dr Jonathon Welch partnered with AMES to start the ‘Voices Without Borders’ asylum seeker choir in 2014 as part of AMES’ Meaningful Engagement Program.
15. In 2014, more than 100 AMES students took part in the Western Bulldogs' annual CALDplay Football Carnival at the Whitten Oval in Footscray. Men’s and women’s teams from the AMES Footscray and Victoria University took on rivals from AMES Werribee/St Albans.
16. More than 1000 people attended a Community Cultural Fair in 2014, hosted for the third consecutive year at the Multicultural Hub in celebration of Cultural Diversity Week. Attendees were treated to roving cultural performances including Burundi drummers, an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, Tai chi, jewellery making, cooking workshops and face painting.
17. In 2015 AMES launched ‘Small towns, Big returns’, a groundbreaking research report into the economic and social impact of Karen settling refugees at Nhill in western Victoria.
18. AMES opened four new employment sites across Victoria at Melton, Craigieburn and Epping, and three more in NSW at Liverpool, Auburn and Cabramatta, after being successful in securing government contracts for a new approach to employment service Jobactive contract in 2015.
19. In 2016 AMES staged a highly successful staff conference headlined by journalist Leigh Sales.
20. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ representative in Australia, Thomas Albrecht, made a visit to AMES Australia meeting staff and clients in 2016. He visited the ‘Working Beyond Boundaries’ program at Werribee Park where refugee communities have been given volunteering and training opportunities in the gardens.
21. In 2016 a large cohort of refugees from Syria/Iraq conflict after then Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a one off intake of 12,000 extra refugees.
22. AMES Australia and the Department of Social Services released a report examining the issue of violence against women in CALD communities in 2017. The report said that addressing violence against women is “a critical task of settlement policy and practice in Australia”. It preceded the launch of AMES Prevention of Violence Against Women program in CALD communities.
23. In 2018 a pioneering project to increase breast screening rates in migrant communities was launched by AMES Australia in partnership with Breast Screening Victoria.
24. A survey carried out by AMEs in 2018 found Australia still appears as ‘the lucky country’ to newcomers with more than half of newly arrived migrants and refugees attracted by our lifestyle and a quarter by our democratic traditions and freedoms,
25. 2018 saw 150 recently arrived professionally qualified refugees enrolled in AMES Australia’s Career Pathway Pilot (CPP), which supported humanitarian entrants to restart their careers in Australia. The free service helped skilled or professional refugees gain formal recognition of their skills or qualifications gained overseas and to upskill or reskill.
26. In 2019 AMES Australia hosted ‘Taste the Difference’ dinners as a highlight of Refugee Week. Participants also heard the fascinating stories of the amazing refugee cooks who catered for the events.
27. AMES launched a study into the settlement outcomes of refugees from Syria and Iraq in 2019 which found they are overwhelmingly happy and feel safe and welcome but they are struggling to find work.
28. AMES Australia, in partnership with Parks Victoria, won the Environmental Justice category at the award in the 2019 Premier’s Sustainability Awards for our ‘Working Beyond the Boundaries’ program at Werribee Park.
29. AMES introduced a new program in 2020 to support professionally qualified refugees. The Refugee Mentoring Program is aimed supporting skilled professional humanitarian entrants to continue to receive support in achieving their career goals.
30. In April 2020, AMES Australia pivoted its services to digital and online platforms to be able to support clients while also complying with COVID-19 health regulations.