AMES Australia introduced the Community Guides (CG) initiative in 2005. The tailored Community Guides program has been formally recognised by the United Nations and is a model increasingly used by similar organisations in other countries.
The program has two important outcomes:
Community Guides provide settlement support in the client’s own language during the first six months of resettlement in Victoria. Community Guides are former refugees who are able to help new arrivals from their home country to settle more effectively in their new environment. They assist clients by:
AMES Australia Settlement recruits former HSS (or IHSS) clients as Community Guides in order to provide first language support to new clients.
It can be challenging for newly arrived clients to step into employment until they have mastered the English language and obtained recognised Australian qualifications. For many Community Guides it is their first job in Australia. The CG initiative helps new arrivals obtain employment experience and opens up their employment pathways.
The recruited Community Guides are selected according to the current client cultural background and languages. They are provided with intensive training and guidance throughout their employment.
At any given time there are about 170 to 190 Community Guides employed. They represent 30 different countries and speak approximately 70 languages and dialects.
AMES Australia settlement seeks out opportunities for upskilling Community Guides. Working with the AMES Australia Employment team, Community Guides receive training in resume writing, how to attend job interviews, how to look for work and what Australian employers look for when hiring new staff.
In addition, Community Guides are trained and provided with specialised settlement roles such as Welcome Guides, Settlement Information Officers, Housing Support Workers, Employment Information Officers, Youth Refugee Support Workers and Case Manger Support Workers.
In total 700 Community Guides have been trained and provided with their first job in Australia. The majority of former Community Guides have found employment outside AMES Australia.