Settlement Grants Program

 When I retired my wife said, “Look, you need to do something.” I said, “You’re absolutely right.” It was a notice on a fridge door in the Canberra Times that said ‘Looking for volunteers’. I thought, “I get on well with people generally. I think it’ll be good.”

I started as a home tutor, at the Home Tutor Program, teaching English, and I started with this Afghani lady not far from where I live on the North side of town, and we’re still friends. We keep in contact. I still home tutor English, mostly to Karin Burmese people, but I thought I’d provide a bit more time to help people out. I come in on Tuesday for appointments. I’ve now seen about 140 different clients.

I help people fill out all sorts of forms. Appointments are made, usually about an hour at a time. So, that can be anything from filling out citizenship applications and talking to people about the questions that are asked for their citizenship test, the whole process for how the citizenship test works, filling in various immigration and border control forms to bring split family members out, from siblings or parents or whatever that might be, to filling out tax forms, to even one divorce form, to applications for ACT housing, to medical forms, to school forms.

They are so appreciative of getting some assistance and hopefully being told the right thing. We’ve had some successes, and even some people who’ve come back just to say, “thank you” that I’ve now got my citizenship, or my family has now arrived, or whatever it is. To see those people and the smile on their faces is really the satisfaction that you get. 

- Kent Brown
  Volunteer for the Settlement Grants Program

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