Bernadette first joined the SMRC’s Tai Chi program in 2017 with the goal of improving her balance as well as her physical and emotional wellbeing. She is also currently part of our Strengths program. She has a positive outlook on life and has often stated that she has been empowered through her education. This approach to her life has meant that she is often seen as a mentor to many. Her story of courage, determination, overcoming loneliness and disadvantage is one to inspire the many migrants in Australia, especially women who wish to take on a greater role in life.
Despite migrating to Australia with high hopes, she was shattered when her husband passed away. Due to her visa status, she was unable to work or receive benefits from the government. In a bid to keep busy, she began volunteering in different roles with the hope for eventual change. Her volunteering roles included interpreting, assessing clients, accounting, helping with news programs, book relief and reception work. Eventually, she received her permanent residence in Australia and was offered a casual role as an interpreter. This led to work five days a week at a NFP organisation in administration and interpreting.
Although she ended her contract with the NFP organisation last year, this has not given her cause to stop working and continues to learn through various courses and community activities. These courses are as wide and varied as her various volunteer roles. These include studies in Income Tax, Computer Science, a Diploma in Retail Management, a Certificate III in Child Care and is currently studying a Diploma in Community Services and Mental Health.
Her experiences and knowledge have meant that she has been recognised as a figure of inspiration in the community. It has also meant that she has been asked to speak at public events including as an International Women’s Day speaker. She also spoke at other organisations including NFP organisations about short and long term accommodation and with case managers on how to deal with asylum seekers and refugees from her cultural background.
Having achieved so much, she still wants to contribute to the community with her aim being to set up a small consulting business where she can provide information, interpreting and form filling assistance to asylum seekers and refugees. On top of this, her dream is to continue to pursue accounting and continues to do this by being a treasurer in a local community organisation.
Bernadette wants to continue to learn to the best of her ability and doesn’t want to get bored in her mind or body. She is always looking to encourage and inspire women to lift up their spirits so that they can become empowered in their lives.