A Friendly Voice: Being a Translator and Interpreter with AUSIT

By | ♥ My Community Blog


Firstly, a huge thank you to the organisations who submitted such positive stories about the work they do supporting our community. Your role is invaluable.

It is our great pleasure to announce the Australian Institution of Interpreters and Translators as the winner of the ♥ My Community Blog Competition! Read their heart warming and very human story and keep your ears open for news of their upcoming appearance on 2XX 98.3 FM!




“Empathy, resilience and a sense of humour…” – Eirlys talks about her work with the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators in Canberra.

Members of AUSIT provide translating and interpreting services in a range of contexts. Picture courtesy of Istanbul'daki Yunanistan, bit.ly/1Qp8SGc

As an interpreter and translator, loving and understanding your community is a major prerequisite.

So is empathy, resilience and a sense of humour, as the stories you hear will often be highly sensitive or confidential. Not all are tragic or stressful however. Our presence, however brief, often relieves the tension and helps clarify minor issues!

The role of the interpreter and translator is often misunderstood, and sometimes even misrepresented, so here are a couple of examples from my experience, which I hope will give you an insight. Consider I work mainly with elderly members of the Italian community, who have been here 50 years or more.

One day, I was called to the Emergency Department to interpret for an elderly Italian Australian, adamant she needed an interpreter. The nurse could not understand why, as the patient spoke excellent English!

I introduced myself and she immediately said : “I have lived here 45 years ! I speak English! But I can’t understand HIM!”.  (pointing at the doctor).

The  doctor repeated the question that was the issue : “..’re y’in pin? ” He was speaking with a heavy Gaelic accent. Reminded of a scene from “Chicken Run”, I smiled politely and interpreted: “Are you in pain?/ Ha dolore?” “YES!”, she said. That’s all it took, the rest of the ED assessment went smoothly. I really thanked my Scottish-Irish-Italian ancestry that day.

On another occasion, the pre-admission nurse called me to assist a patient who some months before, had been consented with his daughter summarising the doctor’s explanation (the daughter had power of attorney). I overheard him talking to himself in the corridor, and realised that he had not understood the nature of the operation. For months, he had been convinced his ear would be removed, instead there was only going to be a small graft to close the hole in his eardrum.

I immediately told the nurse, and we described the entire procedure again, showing him pictures of the procedure (which his daughter had avoided doing at the time, so as not to “worry” him, fearing he would not consent). He emerged happy, grateful and hopeful that his hearing would finally be restored, while his daughter finally realised why he had been extremely depressed for months in the lead up to the operation.

Sometimes, it is the small details that count.

To learn more about the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators, click here.

Using Meditation to Manage Depression and Anxiety: Shanti Mission

By | ♥ My Community Blog

“I honestly believe now that every single one of us has the ability to change our lives for the better if we just have the right support and tools to do it.”

Lisa, participant in Shanti Mission programs

Lisa attended the Path of Ease and Grace Seminars at Shanti Mission to help her manage depression and anxiety - photo credit bit.ly/1gxo9L1

For a lot of my early years I seemed happy on the outside, but inside I was suffering from crippling anxiety and depression. In 2009, I stumbled across a meditation and life skills school called Shanti Mission. I started doing some of seminars called the Path of Ease and Grace and my life miraculously started to change before my eyes.  The depression and anxiety I used to carry around every day started to lift as I did the courses, and I found the more I used the meditation, healing and mental mastery tools they taught me the better I felt.

One of the standout things with this organisation is it is the first time I have done a workshop and learnt tools that changed my life so quickly, helped me so deeply, and where the simple structure of the tools was so easy , I could use them all the time and my life just kept improving.  So much so that people frequently ask me “what are you doing?? You look so different – I need some of what you’re having!”

It makes me so excited to hear this not only because I feel better, because I honestly believe now that every single one of us has the ability to change our lives for the better if we just have the right support and tools to do it. I never thought my life would be like it is today, I’m happier, healthier, have amazing relationships and the normal ups and downs of life still happen, but they don’t paralyse me or push me into fear or anger anymore. I know how to deal with people, life and challenges and take them in my stride.

The tools I’ve learnt through this school are priceless and the community I’ve become a part of is so enriching for my life.  I’d recommend any of Shanti Mission’s meditation or life skills workshops to anyone.

The Canberra Community Has a Body and a Soul: Early Morning Centre, Canberra City Uniting Church

By | ♥ My Community Blog

“it’s not so easy to wake up at 6 am on your day off from work to go and serve breakfast, but when you get there …. everyone is very happy and says “Thank you”. It just makes your day and uplifts your spirit.”

Luti, Early Morning Centre Volunteer

The Early Morning is open each week day 7.30am to 8.30am for free breakfast

By Luti, Early Morning Centre Volunteer

Ever since I came to Canberra in 1970, I have been told that Canberra is a dead city – meaning, too quiet, no fun and boring!  The people are too busy and self absorbed.

What is needed is for someone to break the ice. Talk to your neighbours and friends.

The most heartbreaking part is watching the homeless people living around the city within the church’s Pilgrim Plaza block.  In 1970 they were lucky as there were lots of trees and long grass, high enough to sleep under, and also newspapers.

Today they sleep on the chairs and the ground. Thank God someone decided to start the Early Morning Centre (EMC) at the City Uniting Church.

Provided is breakfast, morning tea and coffee. The committee who run the Early Morning Centre (EMC) need your support with finance and strength to keep the mission going for the people in your community.

Now in 2016, personal care (showers) and laundry services as well as breakfast are provided. How good is that! So great! Thanks to the people that help the EMC Committee.

To be honest, it’s not so easy to wake up at 6 am on your day off from work to go and serve breakfast, but when you get there your community people come in and sit and enjoy their breakfast, talk, laugh with their friends and request takeaway for later. Toast or pancakes, fruit salad and yogurt or coffee.

Talking with confidence, everyone is very happy and says “Thank you”. It just makes your day and uplifts your spirit. It brings tears to your eyes and you feel great. I thank God I came the Early Morning Centre to experience the feeling of all the people who give their time and effort to do any mission like serving breakfast for the people you love in the community.

Please, have a heart and support the EARLY MORNING CENTRE: your City, your Mission.

What is it Like Having A Mammogram? – Breastscreen ACT

By | ♥ My Community Blog

“I would implore all women from 50 years onward to have a mammogram …. It takes about half an hour every 2 years and you are worth it.”
– Orana, nurse

Having a mammogram is free and can offer you peace of mind and more treatment options

Breast screening is about early detection, we want to see all women that are feeling well and don’t have any symptoms. We are looking to identify any abnormalities to breast tissue before a woman has any awareness.

BreastScreen ACT uses the newest and best available equipment for mammograms. We have a new 3D mammography machine which allows our radiologists to precisely examine breast tissue in very thin slices, enhancing the accuracy of diagnosis.


My name is Orana and I’m a registered nurse. I have now had two mammograms with BreastScreen ACT. My first was at 50 and my second at 52.

As a nurse working in general practice with an interest in Women’s Health I have always stressed and encouraged women to have regular mammograms for early detection of abnormalities to breast tissue. Early detection offers women many more treatment options and peace of mind.

It’s so easy to have a mammogram here in Canberra. Just phone BreastScreen ACT and make an appointment at one of the centres that are situated throughout Canberra. Mammograms through BreastScreen ACT are FREE!

Once you have made your appointment you just need to turn up and fill in some paperwork, then go to one of the change rooms to remove your bra and put your top back on, or change into a gown if you request one (for privacy and easy access to your breasts). You are then taken in by the radiographer who will perform the mammogram. You will have to stand up for the mammogram and put your arms in different positions for a good picture. If you can’t stand, the Radiographers will  work around this. I know some people make the comment that it can hurt when the breast tissue is compressed “squashed”  but I have not had this experience.

The  mammogram itself  is quick and once completed you get changed and leave. You and your GP will receive a letter in the post notifying you whether you require 2 yearly follow up or if there is an abnormality, BreastScreen ACT will contact you directly.

For me as a nurse, another important factor about this experience was to ensure the area is clean and that infection control measures are taken, such as cleaning the machine between patients and the radiographer’s washing their hands prior to performing the procedure. This was carried out and the radiographer did not know I was a nurse.

I would implore all women from 50 years onward to have a mammogram. It is for you and your family. It does not take long and it is free. It takes about half an hour every 2 years and you are worth it.

Call 13 20 50 today and make an appointment at either, the City, Phillip or Belconnen.

Living Well With Asthma – Asthma Australia

By | ♥ My Community Blog

A free asthma education session helped Fred get his asthma under control and achieve better overall management of his condition.

With education and support, it's possible to live well with asthma. Photo courtesy of wespeakscience.com

Asthma Australia’s 1800 ASTHMA Helpline is a free telephone support service to help people with asthma.  The service supports people to improve their asthma control through education about asthma management strategies.  The service can be accessed from attending a Live Well with Asthma education session, by referral from a health professional or by calling 1800 ASTHMA (278 462).  After an initial discussion identifying some strategies and actions, the individual is offered the opportunity to be contacted by telephone to follow up on how their asthma is.

Fred attended a free group asthma education session—Live Well with Asthma—in 2015 as he had been struggling with ongoing asthma symptoms and poor asthma control.  The education session provided additional information about asthma and how it could be managed.

Fred also agreed to receive four telephone calls over a six month period to further discuss his asthma and ways to manage the symptoms. As a result of the education session and follow up calls, his asthma control increased, was well controlled and this was sustained through the remaining follow up calls.

Fred told us how impressed he was with the service provided by the Asthma Foundation ACT. The education session had improved his knowledge of asthma, helped him to recognise his asthma symptoms and how to achieve good asthma control.  He was appreciative of the follow up phone calls to “check in on him” and attributed the calls to encourage him get a written asthma action plan.

With education and support, it is possible for people to Live Well with their Asthma!

For further information about asthma information and support available, please contact Asthma Foundation ACT on 1800 ASTHMA (278 462).

RSB Assistance a Gift for Kirsten!

By | ♥ My Community Blog

“Looking nice is something all of us want and it’s no different for me than it is for any young girl my age – there shouldn’t be a separation.”
– Kirsten, participant in Royal Society for the Blind Canberra programs

RSB staff help out with make up tips

Learning how to apply make-up, planning outfits and organising your wardrobe aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think of Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) Canberra specialist services.

But for 16-year-old Kirsten who has a congenital eye condition and is legally blind, these skills matter the most because they enable her to do the same things as other girls her age.

RSB specialists work with people who are blind or vision impaired developing strategies so they can be independent doing the things that are important to them.

For Kirsten, learning self-care skills means she can apply make-up and organise what she wants to wear just like any other young woman.  Kirsten carefully plans her make-up using her face as a map and her sense of touch to guide her.

RSB has also taught Kirsten how to use specially designed apps to help identify colours and help with other tasks like planning meals, cooking, shopping, managing her finances as well as learning to use EFTPOS and Pay Pass.

Upcoming RSB specialist sessions will help Kirsten to organise her wardrobe. Kirsten said the support she’s had from RSB learning how to do the things that other girls her age take for granted have had a really big impact on her life.

“Looking nice is something all of us want and it’s no different for me than it is for any young girl my age – there shouldn’t be a separation,” Kirsten said.

“Whether it’s my make-up or anything else, what matters to me is that I can do these things on my own and RSB has been amazing to help make that possible.”

Standing up for Workers’ Rights: Fair Go For Canberra

By | ♥ My Community Blog

“The outcome was a real victory for Priya and her workmates…. It shows just what can be done when people stick together and fight for their rights.”

Priya wanted to be treated with dignity like other Australian workers

Priya is an 18 year-old student at the ANU. Priya was a pizza delivery driver at a well known pizza chain until she was fired for standing up for fair wages and conditions. All Priya and her workmates wanted was to be treated with dignity like other workers in Australia, their ask was simple: fair pay for drivers and penalty rates for all workers.

Drivers at this company were not recorded as employees and were paid cash in hand at below award rates. We know that Canberrans won’t stand for the unfair exploitation of workers – so we teamed up with Priya and her union to demand that the company pay their workers the penalty rates and unpaid wages that they were owed.

After continued community pressure from Fair Go For Canberra members, the hard work of Priya, her workmates and their union, the company agreed to pay their workers their unpaid wages and give Priya her job back. Workers are now being paid award rates, with the money being paid straight into their bank accounts!

The outcome was a real victory for Priya and her workmates, and couldn’t have happened without Priya standing up and speaking out against exploitation. It shows just what can be done when people stick together and fight for their rights.

Mind and Body: Overcoming Challenges at Kung Fu Wushu ACT

By | ♥ My Community Blog

“Age and disability are no barrier to learning new skills, and mind and body together can achieve what may seem impossible!”

A student and teacher of the Kung Fu Wushu school, who lost both legs to meningococcal.

Kung Fu Wushu ACT has, with ACT Government assistance, established a programme called Overcoming Challenges, to help older Canberrans, and those with a disability, to experience Kung Fu – Wushu, and the life benefits it provides.

A student in a participating club is now well into his 70s, and has been training for more than two years. Some time ago, he felt a bit dizzy when training, and was asked to sit down. He did not show classic heart attack symptoms, but his condition caused some concern. He drove himself home, but his instructor drove behind to make sure he was safe, and phoned to make sure he was OK. He was diagnosed with low blood pressure and eventually had a pace-maker fitted. It was some time before he trained again, and due to more than a few injuries and illnesses, his progress has sometimes been slower. But he has persisted in his training and rarely missed a training session. As a result, he has now made his second grade, but more importantly, his overall coordination is now good, he can pick up new techniques rapidly, and he has maintained a good level of fitness.

Another student, at a different participating club, became very ill with meningococcal disease, which eventually resulted in his having both legs and several fingers amputated. He refused to let this deter him, and returned to training, and is now a teacher in his own right. And you most certainly do not want to be kicked by his metal leg! He shows how determination and persistence can overcome misfortune.

The members of Kung Fu Wushu ACT believe strongly that age and disability are no barrier to learning new skills, and how mind and body together can achieve what may seem impossible!

From Tuggeranong to the Taj Mahal: Sing Australia

By | ♥ My Community Blog

“People who love singing in a non critical environment, who love travel with like minded people and who seek friendship and fun.”

Sing Australia at Floriade

For 20 years Sing Australia has helped thousands of people in the community from all walks of life and demographics in various ways right across Australia.

Starting in Canberra, Sing Australia has 140 groups and over 4,500 members; six of these groups are located in Canberra and Queanbeyan.

We apply an inclusive approach to singing. Everyone regardless of how well they sing can be a member. Our music covers as wide a range of styles and tastes in music as possible. We sing as widely as we can in the community from formal events to casual performances in a nursing home.

On average we sing at approximately 1800 performances a year throughout Australia. Our repertoire assists in making all of these rewarding. We provide singing tours around Australia and overseas to connect with other members. We have sung at amazing venues – Anzac day services at Gallipoli, an international peace forum in Vancouver; at Long Tan; Hell Fire Pass, outside the Kremlin; the Taj Mahal; Every two years we tour Italy and sing at the most spectacular of places like the Trevi Fountain, The Milan Cathedral, La Scala Opera House foyer, – all impromptu and fun.

We have annual National Gatherings where up to 1000 participants come from around Australia to reunite with new found friends. We have regional gatherings throughout the year.

For 26 years in Canberra, Sing Australia has had an involvement with the annual Rotary Seniors concert and the Annual Lanyon Carols and for 20 years for The Legacy Anzac Concert. Since 1989 Sing Australia has had continual involvement with the Australia Day celebrations in Canberra.

So in a generic sense the ‘someone’ who we help in the community through all this involvement represent thousands of people. They are people who love singing in a non critical environment, who love travel with like minded people and who seek friendship and fun.

How the ADO Helped to Reunite an Indigenous Man and his Best Friend

By | ♥ My Community Blog

On Australia Day a few years ago Tyson came to the defense of his keeper almost with tragic consequences, had the Animal Defenders Office not stepped in.

Loyal friend Tyson, who is inseparable from his keeper

The Animal Defenders Office’s story is about one Aboriginal man and his dog, whom we’ll call ‘Tyson’.  Tyson and his keeper are inseparable. His keeper is Aboriginal, and suffers from mental and other health issues.

On Australia Day a few years ago Tyson came to the defense of his keeper who was attacked at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra. For his efforts, Tyson was seized by the authorities and spent a record 15 months in a cold damp windowless cage in the local pound. Tyson’s imprisonment almost came to an early, and tragic, end when his keeper appeared in court in relation to the dog attack several months later, but just as the Court was about to order that Tyson be ‘destroyed’, the ADO’s submissions about Tyson’s good character were put to the Court. After considering the submissions the Court ordered that Tyson not be destroyed.

Tyson’s life may have been saved but he still had to be released from the pound. Several more months passed as the authorities tried to work out what to do with this animal who had narrowly avoided a court ordered death. Eventually the ADO was able to help get Tyson out and back to his distraught keeper. The ADO then helped Tyson’s keeper obtain a dog licence interstate so that these best friends could be reunited permanently… or so it seemed.

A few months later Tyson and his keeper had to move back to the ACT. The ADO is now once again assisting Tyson’s keeper in dealing with local authorities to get a licence to keep his beloved companion here in Canberra. Tyson is very much an emotional support animal for this indigenous man, and ADO volunteers have loved helping to keep man and dog together.

For further information please contact contact@ado.org.au