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Why you should volunteer to help refugees in Sydney

January 17, 2023

Volunteers at the Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC) help connect refugees and asylum seekers in New South Wales to services and support, using their time and talent to improve lives.

The ASC was built on the kindness of the community, powered from the start by volunteers who offered shared meals, English classes and social support.

30 years later, the organisation has grown, as has the need, and yet we maintain that same culture of generosity. In the last year, 477 volunteers across our Auburn and Newtown locations have given almost 33,000 hours of time to help people seeking asylum.

Five volunteers stand and smile in the ASC's industrial kitchen

Centre Support Volunteers

The Centre Support Volunteers (CSVs) play a particularly vital role at the ASC.

“It’s rewarding to be able to assist and troubleshoot, give advice or just provide moral support to different clients who are going through particular hardships,” says Preethi Chockalingam, a CSV who started at ASC last year.

The CSVs guide clients through our services and government processes, answering questions about Medicare, Immicards, energy bills, phone connections, transport cards and legal referrals. On any given weekday at the ASC, you will see CSVs working at Newtown or Auburn with members of the community.

“I think that intangible feeling of contributing to make a difference to someone’s life by helping understand and manage their situation better, is one of the great things about it.”

Finding the right volunteer role for you

Many of our volunteers take on roles aligned with their careers. HR specialists assist our employment hub, accountants support our finance and philanthropy teams, and photographers work with our communications team. As a not-for-profit organisation, we rely on the expertise of these volunteers, who often squeeze volunteering time in after work or between shifts.

Preethi talks about the sense of community that the organisation gives in return, particularly through gatherings and events.

“It is quite a supportive network, and you feel a sense of community through volunteering. You are welcome from the first day and there are always people you can turn to if you’ve ever got questions.”

“It was great to be able to contribute to the greater picture and impact that the ASC is creating, in some way or form as a Centre Support Volunteer, to help make a difference in people’s lives.”

Find out more about volunteering opportunities here.

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