A MULTICULTURAL women’s group which helps members grow in confidence and knowledge to integrate further into community has enjoyed meeting in person again after lockdown.

Chair of the Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre Sylvia Davey said the group meets in a social setting and develops community knowledge.

“We help the group with paperwork, or learning to drive and, for so many, we share great friendships as we grow,” she said.

“There’s seven different nationalities and various languages spoken, we all share English.”

“The whole idea is to help them become aware of the services that are available in the community and make social connections and friendships,” Sylvia said.

The group regularly invites different members of the community to speak with the group.

“Over the three years that the group has been going we have had talks from Centrelink, morning tea with the police, women’s health focus, this morning we talked about domestic violence,” Sylvia said.

Settlement worker Janice Connor said the group’s confidence had grown with trips into the community.

“We’ve done trips to the State Coal Mine, we’ve had a bus trip and stayed overnight to Melbourne, to help them get used to public transport,” she said.

“Their confidence has really improved, and now many of the group are giving back to the community,” Janice said.

For Felicia Di Stefano group member and refugee advocate, the group is an important part of her life.

“Multicultural people can get along in peace and harmony. We share great friendships together,” Felicia said.

Felicia appreciates the community house’s many avenues of care.

“Mitchell House is like an oasis in Wonthaggi. The house is somewhere I can stop by during my day. If I have an hour or two I can use the kitchen,” Felicia said.

Following months of online meetings using Zoom, the group celebrated their reunion by sharing birthday cupcakes for all of the birthdays that took place during isolation.

The group gets between 20 and 50 at meetings, with members from China, Burma, Philippines, Japan, England, Poland and France.