Lara and Patricia’s Enduring Friendship

24 January 2023

Lara, a Community Visitor’s Scheme volunteer, shares her story with meeting Patricia.

As a second-year uni student, I surprisingly had extra time on my hands. My future was approaching, and I felt as though I should offer my time towards causes that really matter.
And so, I began volunteering for Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre at the start of 2020. I started by visiting Sri Lankan lady, Patricia at her Cranbourne home. COVID19 at this time, was known as something resembling a cold, and no one knew the extent to which their lives would change.

Once COVID19 was well and truly a part of our lives and causing illness within our community, it changed the way Patricia and I connected. When I visited her face-to-face, she’d give me pan rolls, potato toffee, and always a coffee over laughs and sharing stories. Instead, when illness was widespread in our community, Patricia and I spoke over the phone for months and cards that I had written were sent to her.

Patricia (left) and Lara (right)

Last week, it was remarkable to finally see Patricia again. It was also the first time I met her daughter Michelle. We reminisced about my visits to her home, and we spoke about everything that had changed.

The best part? I got to hug Patricia for the first time in over two and a half years!

I am truly grateful for Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre for giving me this opportunity to connect with people that need social support. As a community, it is essential that we look after our elders who have come near and far. For us, they can teach us the most valuable lessons in life.

Community Visitors Scheme 30 Years of Friendship

22 December 2022

The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) aims to connect vulnerably and socially isolated older people to our culturally and linguistically diverse volunteers. SMRC volunteers provide connection via phone calls, digital and written communication as well as face-to-face. This companionship is not only vital to ensuring older people at risk of loneliness feel connected to the community but also enriches the volunteers life and sense of purpose. As long-time volunteer, Ederlynn, states, “[Volunteering] makes a difference. You let them know that someone cares for them. your time is precious to them.”

This year, in celebration of 30 years of CVS in Australia, a curated e-book titled “30 Years of Friendship” was created to capture the unique and special stories.

“This program encapsulates all that is good in humankind and reminds us all, that despite what challenges we may face, however busy we might all be, what matters most, is the positive difference, the joy, we can bring to other people’s lives with the simple gift of time, patience, and kindness.”

– Esis, CVS State Network Member – ACT, NSW and VIC

Holiday Closure 2022

15 December 2022

It’s hard to believe that we find ourselves at the end of another busy and full year.  

While it’s fair to say that the year has thrown us a few challenges along the way, we are really proud at SMRC of what we have achieved, with more than 100,000 hours of service delivered across our 28 programs and social enterprises, and countless client stories featuring connection, growth and achievement. Sharing with you here our FY22 Annual Report.

But we couldn’t have done it without our partners and supporters. We have received much in-kind support throughout the year, and we’ve benefited greatly from our collaboration with individuals and agencies also committed to supporting migrants and refugees in the southeast of Melbourne. 

Thank you for helping us to do what we do. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and joy-filled festive season from all of us at SMRC. 

We look forward to continuing to work with you throughout 2023. 

SMRC offices will be closed from 12 pm on Friday 23 December, reopening at 9 am on Monday 9 January. For urgent enquiries over this period (outside of public holidays), please call 0400 867 874.


Volunteers appreciated in End of Year Party

13 December 2022

Last Thursday, SMRC had the pleasure of hosting an end of year party for our volunteers. This was the first time we’ve been able to come together since the beginning of COVID. The room was filled with festive smiles and delicious food where we were able to thank our volunteers for all that they do for SMRC and the wider community.

Did you know that we have more volunteers than staff?! It goes to show that they are instrumental in allowing us to deliver the best quality programs we can. Across our STAR Homework Club, Social Support Groups, Learning Space English classes, Computer classes, corporate services, visiting programs and many more, our 160 dedicated volunteers spare time out of their lives to our community.

Volunteering makes a difference. It’s people like Ursula who received a 25 years of service award that embody the connection and passion it means to be a volunteer!

Volunteer with us today:

HIPPY fun filled 2022 Graduation

22 November 2022

Our HIPPY Dandenong program celebrated 25 graduating families last Friday. We all enjoyed, music, a photo booth, a fun magic show, pizza and cake! Congratulations on your wonderful achievement in our 2-year program.

This graduation follows a busy year and an announcement from the Department of Social Services to committing funding to the HIPPY Program for the next five years. A great evidence-based program that we know has had a positive impact on the lives of the families we’ve worked alongside in delivery of the program over many years. Its structured, education-focused model has been proven to lay the foundations for success at school and to show that a child’s earliest and most powerful learning comes from family. Last financial year, 55 families received support from 5 tutors at SMRC!

We are excited to deliver this program alongside the Brotherhood of St Laurence to support many more families in the future.

HIPPY is recruiting 30 families to start our program from Age 3! Please register your interest by contacting us on 9767 1900. Find out more:

Community Visitors Scheme celebrates 30 year anniversary

8 November 2022

Our Community Visitor’s Scheme (CVS) supports vulnerable and isolated people by matching dedicated volunteers with consideration given to diverse languages, cultures, ethnicity and interests. Last financial year our volunteers provided 2,163 connections through phone calls, face-to-face, digital connection and written communication

People in Victoria reported the highest level of loneliness 32.6% followed by NSW 14.6% and the rest of Australia at12.5%

One in two (50.5%) Australians feel lonely for at least:  one day in a week, while one in four (27.6%) feel lonely for three or more days. Which means, nearly 55% of the population feel they lack companionship.

Last Thursday, SMRC celebrated the 30th anniversary of CVS with our fun-loving volunteers! We enjoyed the tasty food of Afghan Rahimi Restaurant, dancers, singers and magicians from TW Musix and games that got the whole room up on their feet!

The friendship and connection that volunteers provide in the local community serves as a reminder that they can make someone’s day with a simple smile filled with compassion and empathy.

Volunteer with us today to make a difference in the community.

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