As a provider of disability employment services all across Australia, we have supported people from all walks of life in overcoming their employment barriers. For CALD participants without the proper supports, the job seeking process can feel difficult, as they are faced with language and cultural barriers.

CALD is an acronym for culturally and linguistically diverse populations. In Australia, people from this background are people who:

  • Come from a different country, or have parents/grandparents that come from a different country.
  • Speak a language other than English.
  • Represent different cultural backgrounds.

At AimBig, our CALD support focuses on breaking down barriers, which is mainly language, culture, and general communication. Our team members are connected to key organisations and supports within these communities, and often come from these backgrounds themselves and speak a second language.

We spoke to Wasan-Lupi Spencer, Area Manager for Western Sydney, about her experiences being from a CALD background and working with CALD participants.

“Across the Western Sydney region, we would have roughly 90%, if not more, of participants that are CALD. The CALD group are truly a special cohort to work with, and it’s extremely rewarding as you are part of the journey for these individuals especially when they are refugees.

Culturally and linguistically diverse populations are equipped with so many skills, knowledge, experience and most importantly life challenges that they have had to endure and beat the odds to be where they are today. However, they are faced with the task of breaking language and communication barriers to gain employment, where for most English isn’t a first language. This also creates problems with understanding their working rights and being safe in a workplace.

Our method behind servicing CALD participants at AimBig within the Western Sydney Region is to accommodate each individual by ensuring there are staff at those sites that speak the predominant languages within those areas. My background is Chaldean, and I can speak Chaldean, Assyrian and Arabic. At our Fairfield office, we have staff that speak Arabic, Assyrian, and Chaldean, as they are the main languages spoken by participants. In Cabramatta we have staff that speak Vietnamese and Cantonese.

Another barrier that culturally and linguistically diverse populations face is having an employer that is not willing to hire people that can’t speak English as a first language. We do our best to overcome this issue by targeting employers within the local communities that speak participant’s languages, which are usually within the areas where they live. This makes it convenient for different reasons – one for language purposes but the other is for travelling purposes as its areas they are comfortable and familiar with.”

AimBig team members like Wasan, have established deep roots within their communities and are passionate about utilising those connections to benefit others. Through these meaningful relationships, they are able to match employers with participants of similar backgrounds to overcome language barriers. Each team member’s network is also key in linking culturally and linguistically diverse populations to any extra support services they require, including refugee resource centres and community organisations.

“I remember a participant came to me at the Fairfield office and was worried about meeting someone new but was even more concerned that they would struggle to communicate with their job coach. However, as soon as the participant knew that the job coach was able to communicate in their native language of Chaldean, the participant was instantly relaxed and relieved. At this point, the participant was able to express comfortably all his concerns, frustrations and especially in regard to his medical conditions and how they have been a major barrier in gaining suitable and sustainable employment.

The job coach contacted local employers within their network that spoke the participants language. The participant was linked with an employer that spoke his language and was accommodating to his health issues by allowing him undertake light duties.”

We asked Wasan why she finds working with CALD participants rewarding.

“CALD participants are truly a special Cohort to support, especially when as a job coach you provide them with a great experience and become part of their journey to a great end result.

Working with CALD participants is such an essential experience for disability employment services providers to be a part of, as they learn so many things that will allow them to grow within their roles but also as individuals, as these participants have come from all walks of life.”

At Aimbig, we are committed to improving and sustaining employment outcomes for people from diverse backgrounds, including culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

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