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Adelaide City Salvos a place of welcome for refugees

AMES staff and participants gathered in the Adelaide City Salvos basement for an event that raised funds for Cancer Council.


Adelaide City Salvos has partnered with AMES Australia to host orientation courses for those being resettled in Australia, in a unique collaboration that makes the corps a place of welcome for those in need of a new home.

“AMES [Adult Multicultural Education Services] contacted us in March,” explains Major Mal Davies, Corps Officer of Adelaide City Salvos. “The program they run is an orientation course for new arrivals, as part of their settlement, and teaches the basics of how to live in Australia. Michael Shultz (AMES Australia) contacted me and asked if it’s possible they’d be able to use some of our space as a classroom.”

The AMES orientation course runs two days a week using the City Salvos corps facilities in the heart of the city. The classes involve 15-20 new arrivals each Thursday and Friday, having started in April. Classes are hosted in the City Salvos’ basement space, with access off the street.

Major Mal Davis, Corps Officer at Adelaide City Salvos.

“The course deals with basic things,” Mal explains. “Questions like, ‘How do I sign up with Centrelink?’, ‘If I need emergency services what’s the phone number?’, ‘How do I get a driver’s license?’, ‘How do I get my kids into a school?’, ‘How do I use a hospital?’. The classes are running well, and we’re really happy with it.”

AMES Australia originated in Victoria, where it has helped new and recently arrived refugees and migrants settle in Australia for 70 years. AMES Australia provides a range of settlement services for refugees and migrants.

“AMES respects and aligns with the mutual values and integrity of the Salvation Army as an organisation,” explains Michael Schultz, AMES Senior Manager for South Australia. “I previously connected with The Salvation Army’s national team last year as part of a group coordinating support to Ukrainian arrivals in Adelaide. Mal Davies was extremely flexible and keen to support our work in settling refugees when I approached him.”

AMES provides on-arrival settlement support, English language and literacy training, vocational education and training, and employment services. The vision of AMES is ‘full participation for all in a cohesive and diverse society’.

“In Adelaide, we deliver information on 10 topic areas for humanitarian refugee arrivals to help them understand Australian culture,” Michaels says. “Housing, government, health, the legal and Centrelink system. It is quite overwhelming for them at first, but this information gives them knowledge and empowerment to become independent as soon as possible.”

The collaboration includes the City Salvos also being informed of the new arrivals arriving in Adelaide and where they’re from. Adelaide City Salvos allowed AMES staff to utilise their facilities for an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Cancer research fundraising event. In September, City Salvos will host a Ukrainian food and culture festival for hundreds of attendees and promote AMES services at the event.

AMES Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at Adelaide City Salvos.

“It makes a strong statement of welcome from the local Adelaide community when the new arrivals visit the Salvation Army premises for their orientation,” Michael says. “It provides them with practical awareness and knowledge of The Salvation Army, services and options to connect with other people. A friendly smile or shared food can easily overcome language barriers to create a sense of dignity and welcome.”

City Salvos runs playgroups, Doorways, emergency relief, and activities for youth and children. Refugee arrivals from Ukraine have already come for services and also accessed the corps playgroup. The City Salvos services are also available to those in the orientation course, such as recent arrivals from Afghanistan, France, Burma, Syria and Ukraine.

“The collaboration is growing in different ways,” Mal says. “We have a volunteer who is studying and looking to work with migrants, so we reached out to AMES. We cross-promote the supports that are here. I’ve been invited to share a video message before each class, a welcome to City Salvos and a chance for me to share about services.”

Adelaide City Salvos recently met with representatives from AMES, the manager of Doorways, and Towards Home, to discuss how to work together and mutually support their clients. If a migrant or a refugee comes to Doorways, they can be referred to any number of complimentary supports.

“This collaboration builds into our values, our vision, our mission,” Mal says. “It builds on Scripture, the words of Jesus, ‘you were a stranger, and you welcomed me’. That’s what we’re attempting to live out. We don’t hide that we’re a church. I make a point of saying that whether people are of Christian faith or not, whether they have faith at all, they are welcome in this place.”


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