Giving back to the community

An ACU Centre for Languages team has been recognised with a Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award for Excellence in Community Engagement for establishing an English language program for Chaldean refugees.

The 10-week program for the Chaldean community in Bossley Park, NSW, was coordinated by ACU Centre for Languages Academic Manager Svetlana Lukovic and Assistant Academic Manager Libby Rainsford. It followed a request from the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International, Chris Riley, that the centre work with church and community leaders to develop appropriate English language support.

In February the 10-week program commenced, with 70 community members attending weekly classes at the St Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church’s community centre in Bossley Park. The program was open to all members of the community, however primarily targeted older people and women, many of whom have family responsibilities that make it difficult to access full-time English programs available to newly-arrived refugees.


“This program is really all about returning something to the community,” Mrs Lukovic said. The team behind the program say they have also benefited both personally and professionally from delivering the program, describing it as ‘an incredible privilege’. “It’s really rewarding for us to join this community and share this learning opportunity,” Ms Rainsford said. While we were giving back to the community it was really a mutually beneficial and rewarding experience.” Mrs Lukovic and Ms Rainsford said the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award not only recognised their work but acknowledged the entire ACU Centre for Languages.

“It’s recognition of what the Centre for Languages has been doing for international students over the past 25 years,” Mrs Lukovic said.

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