Sue Ellson from Newcomers Network on Wise Ways Radio Program
by Jacquie Wise
It is hard to believe that today I completed my third last Wise Ways Radio Program! Yes, on Friday 29 March 2013, after 936 programs over 18 years, the Wise Ways Radio Program on Southern FM 88.3FM will be ending.
Today I interviewed Sue Ellson, the Founder and Director of Newcomers Network. Sue moved to Melbourne in 1994 from Adelaide and found the transition difficult, so she set up her free online resource in 2001 after completing a university research project. Since then, she has been providing information, events and advocacy for newcomers from intrastate, interstate and overseas, mostly to people who have a good grasp of English.
She currently coordinates a free monthly Living, Working and Networking event on the second Wednesday of every month in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth and runs the event in Melbourne. She has also hosted Christmas Day picnic lunches in Melbourne for the last seven years.
We discussed a range of issues about how newcomers find it difficult to settle in Australia. Starting with a good first impression at the airport and finding new friends were two of the most important settlement steps, particularly for people who normally speak English and do not make new connections through an English Language Class.
Sue shared her six best settlement strategies including:
1. Find a friend
2. Source local information
3. Start or continue a hobby or interest
4. Expect it to be challenging
5. Ask questions
6. Develop new routines and rituals
Sue also discussed how Australians can be more welcoming to new arrivals:
1. Smile more often and be friendly
2. Invite newcomers to join your own family occasions
3. Offer to answer questions at any time
4. Ask them if there is any way you can help them
5. Consider adopting some international traditions (like personal thank you notes from Americans after an event)
6. Invite them to the football or other events where you can explain Australian customs
I was surprised to learn that people moving short distances within Melbourne can also find moving home difficult. Sue explained that even if you only move 10 kilometres, you will need to change your doctor, dentist, hairdresser etc and that if the moving date is close to other significant issues in the person’s life (empty nest syndrome, grief etc) then it compounds the challenges.
Sue covered a range of very practical ideas for both newcomers and locals and shared the concepts of both homesickness and ‘foodsickness’ – where a new arrival misses the food they used to eat. Fortunately Melbourne has many fabulous things to do and you can find any food you want here – somewhere!
Listen to this 23 minute Wise Ways Radio Show on YouTube here.
Next week – Dr Ian Gawler