Integreat Queensland Newsletter: December 2022

Welcome to Integreat Queensland’s December Newsletter.

It is always good to end the year on a ‘high’ and here at Integreat Queensland we have a few ‘highs’ to reflect on and enjoy.

First and foremost, we celebrate all the amazing volunteers that have touched our lives during 2022. Volunteering is a great way to reach out and connect with others and here at Integreat Qld we are very fortunate to have a wonderful and diverse group of volunteers who work with us to welcome everyone from everywhere and assist them to achieve their goals. International Volunteers Day (IVD) on December 5 this year which celebrates ‘solidarity through volunteering’. So, to all the volunteers out there, happy International Volunteers Day 2022 to you all.

Secondly, many of you will be following us in our celebration of our Get Work Ready ladies. After a wonderful year of hard work, new friends, and celebrating successes, we are now needing to find new investment to ensure we can continue to assist more skilled women to achieve their goals.

We are also celebrating all the little steps being made by those who come to our Little Steps Multicultural Playgroups in Gladstone and Rockhampton. We just love seeing you all build new connections and learn through play. We are looking forward to welcoming more people in the new year.

Finally, the Integreat Queensland Board and I would like to thank our amazing staff… without their dedication, advocacy, and skills, none of the impact we made this year would have happened, thank you all.

Julie Pettett

Integreat Queensland General Manager.

Multicultural Festival flourishes and expands throughout central Queensland in 2023

After the success of the 2022 Flourish Festivals in Gladstone and Biloela, Integreat Queensland are pleased to announce it has been successful in securing $106,000 of federal and state government funding to continue and expand the multicultural event in 2023.

Integreat Queensland general manager Julie Pettett said the Flourish Festivals are all about showcasing the region’s pride and diversity of our multicultural community.

“Our Flourish Festival is about showcasing our pride in our multicultural community – who we are, where we’ve come from, and what we now share together,” Ms Pettett said.

“We believe art and culture are at the heart of diverse communities, and are powerful tools for creating social connections, boosting economic growth, and shaping a strong, healthy region.”

Over the past few years, Integreat Queensland has held the Flourish Festival in both Gladstone and Biloela. Ms Pettett said Integreat Queensland will not only continue on the success of those events but expand the Flourish Festival to the Central Highlands.

“We will be building on the success of our current Flourish Festivals by expanding our reach across central Queensland,” Ms Pettett said.  

“In 2023 our Flourish Festival will not only be held in Gladstone and Biloela, but I’m pleased to announce the event will now also be held in Emerald.”

Ms Pettett said the Flourish Festivals will remain focused on working closely with individuals and groups throughout central Queensland, to make sure the event celebrates culture and diversity in ways that suit local needs.

“The festival will continue to be a community-led event by helping people integrate and actively participate in a thriving community,” she said.

“We will partner with local individuals and groups to create the Flourish Festivals designed specifically to each region and the community.”

Ms Pettett added creating solid collaborations and networks are critical to achieving Integreat Queensland’s and the Flourish Festival’s goals.

“That’s why we’ll continue to build our partnership model to help take the Flourish Festival forward, by pursuing and growing our partnerships with all levels of government, business, and local industry,” she said.

“Through these collaborations, we’ll be supporting better integration and helping shape a more resilient community where everyone benefits.”

*Funding: Federal Government ($80,000) – Queensland Government ($26,000).

Picture: Our Flourish Festival is growing and expanding with assistance from the federal and state governments.

Our Get Work Ready students ready for central Queensland’s job market

Sourcing, finding, and securing work in Gladstone was made much easier for 12 migrant women last week when they graduated from Integreat Queensland’s Get Work Ready Program.

Integreat Queensland’s Get Work Ready program is designed to support migrant women to boost their employability and transition to employment.

Integreat Queensland Learning Facilitator Jaclyn Thompson said the association developed the program after several women came to them and shared their stories about how they were struggling to find employment locally despite having incredible skills, qualifications, and experience.

“The program assists participants to find work, navigate the hiring process, and integrate smoothly into the Australian workforce by giving them practical experience and guidance,” Jaclyn said.

“Participants learn workplace English, communication and interview skills, resume and cover letter writing, their rights and responsibilities at work, and Australian workplace culture, and more.”

One such participant Noha Fakhry who came to Australia with her family from Egypt in 2018 said even though she had strong experience as a Cost Control Accountant and Assistant Manager, including the Australian qualification of Cert III in Business Administration, she could still not find work.

“I tried to find a job, but I couldn’t,” Noha said.

“I faced many challenges such as a career change, better communications skills, and gaining work experience in Australia which was when I heard about Integreat Queensland’s Get Work Ready program. I decided to join the program because I believed it would upgrade my skills and open up job opportunities.”

Jaclyn said Integreat Queensland’s Get Work Ready program began in October 2021 and since then 38 participants have graduated with many of them, like Noha, finding work including opening up new doors to other pathways,” she said.

“The ultimate goal is for the women to secure work however, there also were participants for whom the program helped them realise they needed to engage in further studies to reach their desired outcomes, and we continue to assist them when needed,” she said.

Noah said when she came to Australia one of her goals was to find full time employment because she believes work brings life balance and now that she has found work she couldn’t be happier.

“When you work, you feel like you are important because you became a productive member in your family and the society,” she said.

“I have now secured work with a great local company, and I’m proud to be working with a fantastic team. I now feel I’m making a difference to my family and the community and I’m not only learning new things every day, but I’m expanding my networks, making new friends, and building on my work experience here in Australia.”

Picture: The entire graduating class of Integreat Queensland’s Get Work Ready program.

Picture: Noha Fakhry and Integreat Queensland Learning Facilitator Jaclyn Thompson.




Celebrating our Volunteers

Integreat Queensland celebrated the up-and-coming holiday season and Christmas in early December.

Held at Crow Street Creative, the event was not just a celebration for the end of year but to also celebrate our volunteers.

At Integreat Queensland, we believe in supporting our volunteers on their journey because if it wasn’t for them, our little association would not exist.


Picture: Just some of our volunteers at the Integreat Queensland Christmas party.

The wellbeing of families drives Esther’s passion at Integreat Queensland

Children’s wellbeing is intrinsically connected to their parents’ wellbeing and their ability to engage, give love, and have strong constructive relationships more than any other influence in their lives.

Our upbringing and family life shapes us, gives us context to the world around us – our community, culture, education, values, and our behaviour. For Integreat Queensland’s Program Coordinator and Facilitator Esther Arzolay, who delivers our Parenting and Children Programs (Circle of Security, 123 Magic, Seasons for Growth) and our Resilient Relationships programs, the well-being of parents and families is fundamental to the well-being of the children and something she is passionate about.

“When parents and families are equipped with the proper support and skills, they are better able to attend to their children’s needs and maintain healthy parent-child relationships,” Esther said.

“Working with Integreat Queensland and delivering the programs gives me the opportunity to help parents reduce their anxiety associated with parenting and helps increase harmony and a sense of well-being in family life. It is very rewarding work because it gives families the opportunity to grow, change, repair, heal and live a more resilient life.”

Originally from Venezuela, Esther immigrated to Australia in 2011 with her husband who was allowed to enter the country on a Skilled Working Visa.

“I first lived in the Northern Territory for about two and a half years in a small town called NhuIunbuy,” she said.

“It was a relatively easy process to immigrate to Australia because Rio Tinto sponsored my husband to work here. In 2014 we moved to Gladstone and in 2020, I started working for Integreat Queensland within their Resilience and Parenting Programs.

“I love the environment at Integreat Queensland. It’s full of energy, positivity and people who know and love what they’re doing and do it with passion, it’s a great place to work.”

Picture: Integreat Queensland’s Program Coordinator and Facilitator Esther Arzolay.


Meet a Board member

Integreat Queensland would like to introduce you to our Board Member and Treasurer, Zahid Answer.

Zahid is a Commercial Analyst and Management Accountant with extensive experience in commercial feasibility analysis, forecasting, financial modelling, stakeholder management, and the implementation of strategic corporate strategies.

Besides Zahid being involved with Integreat Queensland to make sure our finances are healthy; he is involved with our small association as he believes world needs more people willing to invest their time and energy towards causes they care about.

“My involvement with Integreat Queensland comes down to their mission to open up opportunities for everyone from everywhere to get involved, feel welcome, learn new things, and contribute to a strong, thriving local community,” Zahid said.

“It’s a mission that is close to my heart and I believe it’s an excellent way to make a real difference in the lives of those around you – and in your own life.”

In his current role as Management Accountant for QNP Queensland, Zahid is responsible for setting parameters, delivering, and managing budgets, forecasting, and strategic planning.

“My ability to think strategically, problem-solve effectively, and act decisively has enabled me to lead successful projects and I’m driven to achieve social impact,” he said.

“While I’m on the Board of Integreat Queensland, I aim to bring together people from different cultures and empower them with knowledge, resources, and the opportunity to make meaningful changes in communities and contribute to the Australian economy.”

Picture: Integreat Queensland Board Member and Treasurer, Zahid Answer.


Are migrant medical practitioners the answer to the shortage of GPs in central Queensland?

In early November, Integreat Queensland’s Project to Pathways Coordinator Stephanie Smaller-Thompson attended the Capricorn Coast Interagency meeting in Rockhampton.  The meeting facilitates local social service agencies who come together to keep informed about what is happening in the sector throughout our region.

During the meeting, a spokesperson for the Rockhampton Hospital talked about the shortage of GPs in central Queensland and the significant impact it was having particularly on the elderly. It was suggested to assist in improving the situation, is it possible to support local young people undertaking a medical degree to return to the region to work?

“Regional Australia has always had problems attracting medical professionals however, I believe there is a possible fix by opening up migration and offering better incentives for medical and health professionals to come to Australia,” Stephanie said.

“But with migration comes the problem of housing which is currently in short supply in central Queensland. Right now, we have families living in tents with many of them looking for housing but unable to secure accommodation because of high rental prices due to the short supply.

“Which further exuberates the problem because if homes were put aside for health practitioners from overseas, what would the community say particularly if they had family living in a tent in their backyard.”

As a migrant herself, Stephanie said she’s tired of the politicians’ rhetoric where they say they’ll address the problem via immigration on one hand, while on the other, blame minorities especially migrants, for taking Australian jobs and housing.

“I believe we could fix the shortage of medical staff through overseas migration though we’re still going to have housing issues. In the short term, the government could purchase homes to house them until such time as they can build or buy and move into their own homes,” she said.

“For now, however, the community can at least assist migrant medical and health professionals by supporting and making their families feel welcomed and valued because as a community, we can exemplify a rich, diverse culture that would support the wellbeing of all Australians including the migrant community.”

Picture: Integreat Queensland’s Project to Pathways Coordinator Stephanie Smaller-Thompson believes migrant medical practitioners are the answer to the shortage of GPs in central Queensland?


Learning is not one-size-fits-all

Since COVID-19, the options for studying a course face-to-face in central Queensland have reduced dramatically as many learning institutions have transitioned to providing courses online only.

While having the option to study online is good for some, online learning can limit opportunities to connect with peers, teachers, and to reach a deeper understanding of the course material that comes from conversing.

Integreat Queensland Learning for the Future Coordinator Jaclyn Thompson said it also severely disadvantages some learners.

“Learning is not one-size-fits-all,” she said.

“Some people can learn through reading content and watching videos online, others can’t. Furthermore, there is still a significant number of people in our community who don’t have access to a computer or the internet at home.”

Integreat Queensland has been approached by several students who have come into the office for support because they can’t understand the course work and are not receiving adequate help from their online course provider.

“Imagine trying to understand a Legal and Ethics module if English isn’t your first language,” Jaclyn said.

“I can barely understand them, and I’m a native speaker. It’s not something that I can explain over the phone or via email either, which are the only supports currently on offer by some institutions. The first thing I do is ask the person to come in and we can read through the questions and resources together.”

Jaclyn added that it’s not just TAFE or university courses that people are struggling with, it’s other services that have moved online as well.

“Navigating services like tele-health or signing up for other government services online requires a great deal of digital literacy and systems knowledge,” she said.

“I helped a member of the migrant community recently to understand the online test to get her learner’s license. There are questions in there that are trickly worded, probably designed to make young learners stumble a few times and rewatch the modules, but it makes it near impossible for a non-native speaker to understand what is being asked.

“Technically, Integreat Queensland is not funded to provide this type of service but we’re not going to turn away someone who is trying to improve their circumstances through learning. Having a driver’s license or a qualification can open up so many doors for people to participate in and become part of the community.”

Picture: The options for studying a course face-to-face in central Queensland have reduced dramatically.


Can you donate or purchase any of the following items or services to help get our kitchen up and running?

Having this space will enable us to…

  • Provide practical training opportunities for our Cert III in Hospitality students and the wider community.
  • Generate an income to support our programs by renting it out.
  • Prepare and store delicious food to be sold in the Moving Feast, our social enterprise food van.

Our wish list:

  • Commercial fridge (approx. $2,700)
  • Commercial freezer (approx. $2,300)
  • Half-size digital convection oven (approx. $5,600)
  • Small stainless steel basin for handwashing (approx. $250)
  • Exhaust fan and ventilation system (approx. $15,000)
  • Fire safety equipment (approx. $250)

Please contact us on (07) 4903 1931 or email if you
can support us in anyway.

Building a community is as important as finding a job

The success of Integreat Queensland’s Get Work Ready program is exactly what the name suggests – to help migrant women get ready for work but most importantly, to assist them in securing work.

At Integreat Queensland, we have several programs to help migrants Integrate into our community however, it’s extremely important that those programs work and for our Get Work Ready program, which is designed to support migrant women to boost their employability and transition to employment, much of that success depends on local employers.

One such employer, Tim O’Brien from Jobs In Central Queensland, recognised the value of the Get Work Ready program and said when he first learned about the initiative, he could see the significant benefits it could deliver to local businesses and the wider community.

“If a business is able to offer a work placement to one of the Get Work Ready participants, I would strongly recommend they get involved as there is no direct cost to their business to host a work placement,” Tim said.

“With the current skills shortage, many businesses are struggling to find motivated workers.  What the Get Work Ready program has demonstrated is there are skilled migrants already living in our region who are highly capable, ready, and willing to step in.”

The Get Work Ready program assist participants to learn workplace English and communication and interview skills including resume and cover letter writing as well as their rights and responsibilities at work, and Australian workplace culture. Once they have gone through the course, Integreat Queensland helps them find a work placement with a local employer.

Tim O’Brien’s work placement for Jobs In Central Queensland was Noha Fakhry who came to Australia with her family from Egypt in 2018. Even though Noha had strong experience as a Cost Control Accountant and Assistant Manager, including the Australian qualification of Cert III in Business Administration, she could still not find work.

“When I met Noha she really impressed me with her skills, enthusiasm, and motivation,” Tim said.

“Initially, I offered Noha a work experience placement but after a couple of weeks’ work, I was so impressed with her results and the impact Noha was having on the business, I offered her a permanent part-time role.”

Ultimately, our Get Work Ready program is about empowering migrant women to take control of their future by not only finding work, but by building their relationships and connections within the local community. Noha said since joining Jobs In Central Queensland, she feels she is making a difference in the community.

“Every day I learn new things, join great events, increase my network, make new friends, and build on my experience,” she said.

“I’m very happy because I achieved one of my important goals since I came here. I left everything in my home country and came here to start from the beginning. Now I have a good balance in my life and my family are so proud of me. I’m very grateful to everyone who supported me during my journey.”

Picture: Director of Jobs In Central Queensland Tim O’Brien (second left) with the Jobs In Central Queensland team including Noha Fakhry (end right).


2023 programs and events

In 2023, Integreat Queensland will continue to open up opportunities for everyone from everywhere to get involved, feel welcome, learn new things, and contribute to a strong, thriving local community through our programs and event.

In 2023, the following programs and events will be delivered in Gladstone and Rockhampton in 2023.

  • Conversational English
  • Online English Class
  • Little Steps Multicultural Playgroup
  • Culture Cafe
  • Picnic in the Park
  • Cert III in Hospitality
  • Cert III in Individual Support
  • Online English Class
  • Safer Pathways
  • SisterLife Circle
  • Conversational English
  • Little Steps Multicultural Playgroup
  • Circle of Security Parenting™
  • 1-2-3 Magic® & Emotion Coaching
  • Mother’s Journey
  • Safer Pathways
  • Sisterlife Circle

For more information on our programs and events, please email or phone 07 4903 1931.



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