Shaima’s Story – Celebrating 20 Years of Dedication


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Shaima Shabaz is one of ADEC’s most beloved Social Support Group Facilitators. After 20 years of incredible service, she has retired from her role. While Shaima was sad to leave the colleagues and clients she loves, she says she feels lucky to have found a home at ADEC.

“I love all my colleagues and clients so much. They have become a second family to me,” she says. “I have had no bad days at ADEC. Every day has been a good day. I was always excited to go into the office.”

Having arrived in Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee more than two decades ago, Shaima’s first years in the country were very challenging as she dealt with depression and a sense of isolation.

“I was a teacher in my country, but when I came to Australia my children were young and I was depressed,” she says. “My husband was also depressed because he had been working in a high position and lost everything.”

Shaima was also missing her family back in Afghanistan, and a language barrier was making it difficult for her to connect with the Australian community. 

"I came from a very big family with four sisters, but none of them were here with me,” Shaima explains. “I didn’t try to work for the first couple of years I was here, but then my husband encouraged me to do something for myself.”

Determined to find a job, Shaima applied for a position at ADEC. But she was terrified of the interview process. 

“My English was very bad, and I didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “I was shaking and scared, but the interviewer told me ‘don’t worry, I will help you’. She made me feel more comfortable.” 

Shaima laughs as she remembers her first days at ADEC. She says she couldn’t sleep the night before her first team meeting. 

“I was so scared of meetings. I didn’t know what a meeting was, and what would happen. But when I arrived, everyone said ‘hi.’ Someone had their cup of tea, there was food, and everyone was sitting. From that time, I knew that everyone was so friendly and that we were all there to help each other.”

Shaima began to excel as a group facilitator, and was soon managing multiple groups each year. She started in the Coburg office before moving on to Preston, and finally the Dandenong office.

“Before I started at the Dandenong office, it took me two-and-a-half to three hours to travel to work by train and bus,” she says. “Over the years I managed the carer support group, the wellbeing group, the play group, the exercise group, and many others”. 

“The exercise group was my favourite. I ran it for about six or seven years, and everyone loved it.” 

Shaima says taking groups camping at the hot springs was another highlight. But it is the many relationships she made during her time at ADEC that she holds most precious.

“My clients became like my sisters in Australia. When they arrived, many of these ladies were sad and depressed. They couldn’t drive and couldn’t go anywhere. But now we’re like a second family to each other. They still message me every day.”

Thankfully, Shaima’s journey with ADEC doesn’t end here. Since retiring from her role as a Social Support Group Facilitator, Shaima has joined one of her beloved groups as an ADEC client, and is happy to remain part of the ADEC family. 

“I love all my colleagues. All the facilitators help each other so much. I’m happy that ADEC was my first and my last job in Australia,” she says. “My advice to others is to work hard, love your colleagues, be happy and enjoy your life. Balance is everything.”

We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Shaima for her extraordinary dedication during the 20 remarkable years with ADEC. Shaima's journey with ADEC has been vital in our growth, and her legacy will forever be a source of inspiration for all of our staff.

ADEC is looking for awesome people to contribute to positive change in our society. Check out our current employment opportunities or contact us to learn more about how you can get involved. Or join one of our social support groups to be a part of our inclusive community, where diversity is celebrated, and individuals of all backgrounds are empowered.

Please click the following links to learn more about ADEC’s support services, or contact us on (03) 9480 7000.


Social Support Program

Advocacy Program

Plan Management