CIT English program takes out Volunteer Team of the Year
A CIT scheme that helps newly-arrived migrants and refugees with their English has been awarded the 2012 ACT Volunteer Team of the Year.
The CIT ACT Home Tutor Scheme matches new migrants and refugees who cannot attend English classes with a CIT-trained volunteer for one-on-one English skills tuition in their own home. The scheme is part of the CIT Vocational College's Adult Migrant English Program, funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
CIT Home Tutor Scheme coordinator, Tina Williamson, explains why the scheme is essential in our community:
"It's vital migrants are able to quickly develop at least functional English when they arrive in Australia. Without it, everything from finding a job to paying their phone bill, going grocery shopping or enrolling their children in school can be just impossible. And there's also the social side - migrants who can't communicate with others are more likely to feel lonely and isolated," Tina said.
"The theme for the 2012 ACT Volunteer Awards was 'Everyone Counts'. This is really what drives the Home Tutor Scheme. Home tutors make sure migrants and refugees have the opportunity to be and feel part of the community."
Tutors also provide friendship, cultural information and assistance with settlement needs. They are not teachers, but work with the students to tailor the lessons to their individual needs. By reaching out, tutors form invaluable bridges between new settlers and the Australian culture and society.
When Mohammed (Sonny) Salehi moved to Australia as an Afghani refugee in 2001, he didn't speak any English. He commenced the Home Tutor program in 2004.
"The Home Tutor program was the key to life in Australia for me," Sonny said.
"If you can't speak English you have no idea where to go or what to do; you can't be someone. Home tutors introduce you to Australia and introduce Australia to you. They help you learn everyday things and help you connect to the people and the culture. The program was one of the most important things to me."
Volunteering ACT presented the award on Tuesday 15 May, as part of National Volunteer Week. CIT Home Tutor, Geraldine O'Connor, also received a 'highly commended' award for volunteers working in the Education, Science and Technology category.
Geraldine has been a home tutor since 2008. She has tutored eight students in the home environment, and is a very active volunteer in the classroom and in the community.
The ACT AMEP Home Tutor Scheme has existed in one form or another since the 1970s, and today trains between 60 and 80 volunteers each year, with between 100 - 150 tutor/student matches at any given time.
Photo Caption: CIT's Home Tutor Scheme team