Looking to Corporates-SPAN Volunteer Tutor Program
Monday, 23rd June 2003 at 1:06 pm
Cobbling together project funds is not new for many small and enthusiastic Not for Profits around Australia. But for one community co-op in Melbourne’s north, which runs a program to teach English to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, help from the corporate world may be the only way of staying afloat!
SPAN Community House in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury runs a Volunteer Tutor Program with over 60 trained volunteers teaching English as a second language (ESL).
Learners come from diverse backgrounds including Arabic, Farsi, Somali, and European. Many learners are refugees, including people on Temporary Protection Visas.
Manager Justin Chubb says SPAN has developed the Program using a ‘community development’ model which has created an exciting buzz that is spreading way beyond their local community.
Volunteers come from all over Melbourne and all kinds of professional backgrounds. SPAN focuses on the needs of volunteers through accredited training, support, resourcing and creating a professional environment.
Chubb says SPAN cobbled together odd bits of project funding to support co-ordination of the program, but have basically funded it by using leftovers from its operational funds.
He says the RACV Foundation provided $5000, the BB Hutchings Bequest through Perpetual Trustees provided another $10,000, and the Darebin Council’s Community Grants donated another $2000.
Chubb says keeping the program going is the next big challenge. With a background in marketing, he believes the program has developed the kind of profile and membership to attract corporate partnerships.
He says SPAN has lots of interest from the media, and the network is growing all the time.
He says that Federal or State funding, apart from being difficult to secure, would bureaucratise a program that has thrived due to its flexibility and participant-driven nature.
He says all learners are welcome, provided they are not eligible for the 510 hours of federally funded English learning which migrants can access upon arrival. This ensures the program doesn’t duplicate government work and that efforts go where they are most needed.
Toni Ladanyi, a volunteer working to co-ordinate the program says SPAN has over 100 learners accessing the program, and inquiries continue.
Apart from the many refugees learning in the program, many learners are women who have been isolated at home for over 15 years.
Ladanyi says their tutors work from SPAN’s community house, from other organisations, from libraries, and in people’s homes.
The project has also partnered with RMIT’s Refugee Project to help recruit volunteer tutors.
Justin Chubb says that as little as $40,000 per annum would keep this unique program operating and growing.
SPAN began in 1978, growing out of the Brotherhood of St. Laurence Family Centre – an experimental service which pioneered the developmental approach to community development. Today SPAN is an independent organisation spreading across the Darebin Council and beyond.