Many stories. One community.

The Murugappan family celebrate their first year back in Biloela at the Flourish Festival.

In 2022, Integreat Queensland hosted the Flourish Festival in Biloela with special guests the Murugappan family attending the multicultural festival after only being released from community detention in Perth a few days earlier.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa, had long been the faces at the center of the country’s asylum seeker policy. But after a community-driven campaign that started when the family were removed from their home in Biloela in 2018, the family were welcomed back to the community officially at the Flourish Festival.

Now a year on, Priya and Nades are working and volunteering in the community and their children are happily attending school.

“Kopika and Tharnicaa have settled in well and are enjoying school,” Priya said. “They are happy.”

Welcomed by the traditional owners of the land, the Gangula people, with a smoking ceremony at the festival, the family celebrated the multicultural event by wearing traditional Sri Lankan dress.

In 2023, the family are planning to be more involved in the popular festival by not only wearing their traditional dress but will also contribute to cultural dance and by celebrating the tastes of Sri Lanka and India, by cooking traditional food.

“We have been welcomed back into the community and we are celebrating by honoring our cultural traditions through dress, dance, and food,” Priya said.

“The girls and I have been busy making our traditional dresses and they’re looking forward to dancing at the festival.”

Priya’s dream is to bring Sri Lankin food to Australia and Biloela. After partaking in a micro-food business training course facilitated by Integreat Queensland earlier this year, Priya is planning on starting a small mobile food business with her first outing and taste of working a small business at this year’s Flourish Festival.

“I will be cooking my own family food from Sri Lanka and India,” she said. “It is exciting to do this as I have never done it before and I’m looking forward to serving the Biloela community and thanking them for their support.”

The Flourish Festival in Biloela is being held on June 18 from 10am to 6pm at the Biloela Civic Centre.

Picture: Priya and Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa being welcomed home by the Gangula people with a smoking ceremony, at the Flourish Festival in 2022.

Kind donation from Zonta Gladstone could save lives.

Integreat Queensland was delighted to receive a kind donation from Zonta Gladstone to help us highlight services available to women impacted by Domestic and Family Violence.

President of Zonta Gladstone Margearet Esdale said Zonta Gladstone is part of Zonta International, a worldwide organisation with the goal to build a better world for women and girls.

“Zonta Gladstone facilitate a number of initiatives to help women and girls in our community,” Margearet said.

“We raise money for scholarships and for birthing kits for women in developing countries including breast cushions for local women who have had a mastectomy. There are a lot of projects that we have under our belt including for women effected by Domestic and Family Violence.

“In November and December, we run an advocacy project with 16 days of activism which is advocating to raise awareness and reduce Domestic and Family Violence against women and girls.

“We believe if more people know how and where to get help, it will hopefully go towards tacking this very important issue.”

Zonta Gladstone kindly donated $433 towards Integreat Queensland projects targeted at Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing, Domestic and Family Violence.

Integreat Queensland Program Coordinator Esther Arzolay-Martinez thanked Zonta Gladstone for the kind donation and said the funds will assist in highlighting Domestic and Family Violence services for women in central Queensland.

“Integreat Queensland run a number of initiatives focused on those affected by Domestic and Family Violence,” she said.

“From our programs like SisterLife Circle, Safer Pathways, and A Mother’s Journey, to specific initiatives like how to recognise employees affected by Domestic and Family Violence in the workplace.

“For some people it may only be a small amount of money donated by Zonta Gladstone however, it only takes a little bit of support to assist and even save lives of women and families who are experiencing Domestic and Family Violence.”

“I’m living in a Domestic and Family Violence relationship”.

“Eight years ago, I knew nothing about Domestic and Family Violence (DFV). In fact, I knew so little about the topic, that I didn’t realise I was living in a DFV situation.” – Jo Mason, CEO and Founder of WorkHaven.

Those are the words of Jo Mason who was in a DFV situation, but it wasn’t until she learnt more about the topic that she realised what was happening in her own life. After leaving her situation, Jo said she was lucky enough to be supported by Brisbane Domestic Violence Service.

“They made my home safe and provided counselling support to help me understand what had happened,” Jo said.

Due to her experience, Jo was invited to become an advocate to share her story and raise awareness of DFV and advocate for change.

“This role also gave me the opportunity to learn from experts and start to build my understanding of DFV beyond the lens of my own experience.”

Jo (pictured) said sadly, the impacts of her DFV rippled beyond the breakdown of her relationship where she experienced the aftershocks in every element of her life.

“One major casualty was my work,” she said. “My workplace didn’t understand DFV or its impacts. There were no provisions or support in place, if anything they made my situation worse, and so four weeks after leaving my home, I also left my job and my career fell off a cliff face.”

Due to her own experience and learning about others and understanding the important role of the workplace, Jo founded WorkHaven to provide employers, industries and communities with the tools, insights, and information to help facilitate the right conversations in a manner that reflects their specific needs.

“I launched WorkHaven three years ago. Our focus is to equip workplaces with the knowledge, skills, and resources to address DFV in meaningful and effective ways. We take an action-orientated approach and everything we do starts with the question – Will this reduce the impact and incidence of DFV?

““We have worked with some incredible organisations across the corporate, government, and community sectors. To date our resources have been available to over 90,000 workers across Australia. Our clients are from diverse industries and locations with a vast span of organisational cultures and each is committed to playing their part in preventing DFV through awareness, empowerment, and action.”

For more information about WorkHaven, please visit 

To assist employers in how to recognise and help employees that maybe experiencing DFV as well as understanding the new employer legislation for DFV paid leave coming into effect on August 1, Jo will be guest speaker at Integreat Queensland’s FREE Employer breakfast about DFV paid leave both in Rockhampton and Gladstone.

Funded through the Safer Pathways program by the Department of Social Services and held appropriately during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in May, with guest speakers from Community Services Industry Association, the Services Union, and local Domestic and Family Violence support organisations, the breakfast will give employers real solutions and tools to help them navigate this important topic.

• Gladstone Friday 12 May 2023: Gladstone Engineering Alliance. Connect here to register.
• Rockhampton Wednesday 31 May 2023: CocoBrew Rockhampton. Connect here to register.

For more information or to register by phone, please call 07 4900 1617 or email

Confidential information, counselling and support for people impacted by domestic and family violence (including employees and employers) is available at the 1800 RESPECT website, the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Learning to talk: Employers are encouraged to create a supportive workplace to address domestic violence.

“Old School” takes playgroup back to the basics.

Have you met Rhonda Finley, our new Little Steps Multicultural Playgroup facilitator in Rockhampton?

Being a mum of three and a grandmother of four with a background working as a teachers aid and tutoring disabled non-verbal adults including working in childcare, Rhonda said she’s “old-school” where she loves going back to the basics.

“I love playing with my grandchildren by setting up activities the old school way like homemade play dough and face painting,” she said.

“The simple things are often the best and I find it’s a great way to inspire creativity and imagination. I get real enjoyment out of seeing children learn and achieve the goals set for them.”

Rhonda said she has worked in the childcare sector for several years however the difference this time around at Integreat Queensland’s Little Steps Multicultural Playgroup is the diversity of nationalities.

“I enjoy my role as playgroup facilitator as I’m always meeting new people,” she said.

“It’s really rewarding as I’m not only meeting new people but people of different nationalities. A few of the mothers and carers don’t speak English and I don’t speak their language which makes it challenging however, I find it really rewarding when I can use other means to communicate, and we develop an understanding.”

Integreat Queensland’s Rockhampton Little Steps Multicultural Playgroup is held every Tuesday from 9:30am to 11:30am during school term (Term 2 starts on 18th April) at the Berserker Street Community Hub 28 – 140 Berserker Street, North Rockhampton. Everyone with children from 0 to 5 years old are welcome and it’s free to attend.

This program is an initiative delivered by Integreat Queensland Inc. in partnership with Capricorn Communities for Children Facilitating Partner. Capricorn Communities for Children Facilitating Partner is funded by the Australian Government and facilitated by The Smith Family.

Little steps: Rhonda with two of the children at our Little Steps Multicultural Playgroup in Rockhampton.

Inspired to stay strong and keep moving forward.

When Jacqueline came to Integreat Queensland, she had just come out of a broken marriage and was at a real crossroads in her life. Not only was she facing some real-life challenges she needed to overcome, but she also felt quite lost and overwhelmed with the world.

“It was a really difficult time,” Jacqueline said. “I had no extended family living in the region for support and I felt quite broken at the time.”

After hearing about Integreat Queensland, Jacqueline decided to get assistance and joined a couple of the organisations support programs for women including SisterLife Circle, a program where women support each other to grow and develop in all aspects of their lives.

“I wanted to feel valued for who I am but most of all I think I really needed some support from women who would understand what I was experiencing,” she said.

SisterLife Circle is a unique program that encourages women to achieve things they might not have thought possible. Its aim is to strengthen the bond between women by encouraging them to support each other through listening, talking, and by taking part in activities together and becoming part of a community.

Jacqueline said at first, she felt a little overwhelmed but by the end of the first session and after listening to a couple of the women’s stories, she realised she was not alone.

“The world is not easy place to navigate and can be quite difficult but after being around other women, and even though we all had different journey’s, I listened to their stories and felt connection and for the first time in a long time, I felt valued and respected for who I was and for my own experience.

“The SisterLife Circle program gave me connection and inspired me to keep strong and move forward by giving me a feeling of belonging and by helping me learn and build resilience within myself.”

Integreat Queensland Program Coordinator Esther Arzolay-Martinez said Jacqueline’s story although unique to her, is often experienced by many women in the community and it’s by sharing their stories and by offering encouragement and support, that helps them move forward in their lives.

“The SisterLife Circle program is about supporting women who are or have experienced domestic violence or are at risk of experiencing domestic violence,” Esther said.

“Many women just want to be listened to and be heard and we have found when we bring women together, they can learn from each other’s experiences and build resilience with each other’s stories.

“Sometimes we talk and sometimes we do activities like crafts and even watching topical videos. What we find is these women are not victims but survivors. The program is about healing and celebrating their lives though discussions and celebrations which helps with their healing and most of all, their wellbeing.”

  • Next Rockhampton SisterLife Circle: March 16.
  • When: 1pm to 2.30pm.
  • Where: 223 Campbell St.

To register for SisterLife Circle in Rockhampton, connect here NOW.

  • Next Gladstone SisterLife Circle: March 29.
  • When: 10.30am to 12pm.
  • Where: 1a Manning Street, South Gladstone.

To register for SisterLife Circle in Gladstone, connect here NOW.

Held fortnightly in Gladstone and Rockhampton, SisterLife Circle is a safe and supportive environment for women to meet, share and connect. To register or for more information about SisterLife Circle, please contact Integreat Queensland on 07 4903 1931 or email

Picture: Intergreat Queensland program coordinators Jaclyn Iwasaka and Esther Arzolay-Martinez with some of the ladies who attended the SisterLife Circle program.

FREE Employer breakfast about Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) paid leave.

From 1 August 2023, employees including part time and casual of small businesses with less than 15 employees can access 10 days of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) paid leave. So, what does this mean to you as an employer? What is best practice, how do you recognise DFV, and how do you support your employees?

Many people still hold the belief DFV is a private matter and are hesitant to become involved even though the effects of DFV extend outside the home. Increasingly, workplaces are recognising personal problems can affect their employees’ job performance and the organisation’s bottom line.

Perpetrators may use tactics to undermine the confidence, employment, and financial security of the victim/survivor, where they can become more dependent on the perpetrator. Such harassment and threats, or perceived threats, can be enough for a victim/survivor to leave their employment through fear or embarrassment as to how their employer and colleagues will react to the situation.

Some victims/survivors are forced to resign from their jobs for personal safety reasons or because they were forced to stop working by the perpetrator. Loss of job security, and therefore loss of financial independence, compounds the problems victims/survivors must overcome when dealing with DFV.

Being aware of potential signs and risk factors of DFV can assist workplaces to take appropriate measures to prevent it from escalating at work. As with other wellbeing concerns, early identification of an employee experiencing difficulties will more likely lead to appropriate help being offered. This in turn could mean that the employee is able to deal with the situation more effectively; also minimising the impact on the workplace.

Having an effective policy and practice response to DFV in the workplace that provides support for victims/survivors can mean the difference between staying in an abusive situation and taking action to address it. However, it is important to ensure that the right support is in place before launching any policy that informs employees it is safe to disclose. Good Policies and Procedures are developed with the involvement of all stakeholders or their representatives.

To assist employers in how to recognise and help employees that maybe experiencing DFV as well as understanding the new employer legislation for Domestic and Family Violence paid leave coming into effect on August 1, Integreat Queensland are holding a FREE Employer breakfast about Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) paid leave and the new legislation in Rockhampton and Gladstone.

Funded through the Safer Pathways program by the Department of Social Services and held appropriately during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in May, with guest speakers from Community Services Industry Association, the Services Union, and local Domestic and Family Violence support organisations, the breakfast will give employers real solutions and tools to help you navigate this important topic.

•     Gladstone Friday 12 May 2023: Venue to be confirmed.
•     Rockhampton Wednesday 31 May 2023: CocoBrew Rockhampton

For more information or to register by phone, please call 07 4900 1617 or email

See how you can be involved: