Immediately after moving to Australia from Sri Lanka in 2018, Jayanthi, who has more than 15 years of experience working in the Non-For-Profit (NFP) sector, began looking for opportunities to volunteer and work with Australian organisations.
Jayanthi (centre) volunteering at SSI's New Beginnings Festival 2019.
In mid-2019 Jayanthi’s relative, a former SSI employee, recommended she pursue volunteering with SSI. So, she reached out to the Volunteering team, who organised work opportunities with our RESP program.
“I came to SSI for multiple different reasons: I wanted to gain experience in Australia and network as this is a new environment. It is my passion to help people, plus I wanted to see how NFP organisations work in Australia,” she said.
For almost a year Jayanthi volunteered one day a week with the SSI’s Refugee Employment Support Program (RESP) out of the Liverpool office. She assisted help clients to develop and improve their resumes, develop cover letters, and organise information.
“Volunteering with RESP has enabled me to utilise my time doing something worthwhile, gain experience working for NFP sector in Australia and build networks, as this is a new environment for me,” she said.
She also assisted at the 2019 New Beginnings Festival by conducting a survey on festival attendees. The data collected from her surveys was included in SSI’s post event reporting and evaluation.
After the emergence of COVID-19, SSI’s volunteering activities were shut down for several weeks.
Jayanthi explained that despite shutdowns, SSI volunteers and The Volunteer team met up to connect and regroup over zoom for International Volunteers day.
Since then, Jayanthi has been offered two different opportunities to use some of her skills and support SSI clients.
“[Acting Volunteer Program Manager], Emma rang me to offer an opportunity to provide Tamil language support to clients and have conversations about the services SSI can provide to people. Now, the team will schedule if anyone needs language support,” she said.
RESP is also establishing way for clients to get assistance with their resumes from skilled volunteers like Jayanthi over the phone.
“It has been a good experience,” explained Jayanthi. “The staff have been very friendly; it is a nice environment and the people I have worked closely with have been really amazing.
“I value diversity and feel fortunate to volunteer with SSI as they work with and support people from different cultures and backgrounds and who have experienced vulnerability and discrimination, including myself,” she said.
Jayanth’s dream for her life in Australia is to continue her career in the NFP sector.
“In Australian issues are very different to those Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka I worked more in the disaster management field and it seems Australia does not have many organisations in this area. [Despite this] there is more focus and opportunities in health, welfare, social support, and migration.
“The social sector is my passion and I really enjoy working in community service, so, I would love to continue working in that field here. That is my goal,” she said.
Are you interested in volunteering with SSI? Learn more here.
*Note: volunteering and internship opportunities may be limited due to the impact of COVID-19.