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Sharing language and friendship through volunteering

When Christine retired, she knew she wanted to keep active and connected with her local community.


When Christine retired, she knew she wanted to keep active and connected with her local community. When Winnie came to Australia from China, she wanted to build her English language skills to help her to settle into her new home and run her business.

Through the Adult Migrant English ProgramExternal Link (AMEP), Christine and Winnie have formed a great friendship and learned from each other.

AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs and offers free English language training to eligible migrants and humanitarian entrants. Christine volunteers with Learning for Employment who deliver AMEP in the western suburbs of Melbourne as well as Ballarat and Geelong.

Christine works one-on-one with students to build their language confidence and learn about the Australian way of life. Christine’s current student Winnie was born in China and now lives with her young daughter and mother-in-law in Melbourne and runs a luggage shop in a local shopping centre.

Christine and Winnie usually meet in person, but they have connected online during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We have lessons once a week and Winnie also regularly sends me messages over Facebook. We work through the AMEP materials but also talk about everyday life – going to VicRoads, talking to neighbours and understanding the Australian education system,” Christine says.

During the pandemic, Christine has also supported Winnie to understand the public health settings for retail businesses and to communicate with shopping centre management.

Christine has also enjoyed getting to know Winnie’s family. Winnie’s mother-in-law often shares home grown vegetables for Christine to take home.

The volunteering experience has been rewarding for Christine, who encourages other senior Victorians to consider getting involved.

“You can make a real difference to someone’s life. You can be an invaluable reference point for someone new to Australia. It doesn’t take a lot of time and you don’t know what you’re capable of until you try. I would certainly recommend it to anyone,” Christine says.

Learning for Employment welcomes new volunteers. For more information, visit the Learning for Employment websiteExternal Link or call 1300 253 053.

Learn more about volunteering options and planning for your retirement.

Reviewed 07 February 2024

Learning for Employment

The AMEP helps new migrants and refugees to learn English and settle in.