Chi Lam’s Happily Ever After: 26 years of Community connection with ADEC
When Chi Lam arrived in Australia from Vietnam, she cried every day. She came in search of a better life for her autistic son, but support was very difficult to find. A new culture and communication barriers also created feelings of social isolation.
“I was homesick and depressed,” she says. “I found it difficult to understand the Australian accent, we didn’t have money, and we had no friends here to help us. We also had no transport, and the cultural differences made it difficult to find a job.”
That was 26 years ago. But Chi’s life began to change when she was introduced to ADEC by another parent at her son’s school.
“She asked me to join ADEC’s Social Support Program, and that gave me the opportunity to express my problems in my own language. Suddenly, I didn’t feel lonely anymore.”
ADEC’s Social Support Program delivers an inclusive program of informative and recreational activities in language-specific peer support groups. The aim is to empower people and families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds who are affected by disability or are frail.
Chi explains that the Social Support Program also provided a valuable entry point into ADEC’s Advocacy Program that assists people living with a disability, their carers and family members to understand their rights, access information and services, and to speak up for what is needed to improve their situation.
“The Advocacy Program helped me find a house for my son and I,” she says. “I applied for a house but it was taking a long time. I was always calling and visiting the housing office to check on the progress. Then ADEC helped advocate for me, and now we have a beautiful house. Since then, I feel that my son’s condition has improved every day.”
Chi also uses ADEC’s Plan Management service to help manage her son’s NDIS funds. As part of the service, ADEC can assist with claims through the NDIS Portal, and help with other NDIS-associated paperwork.
“I have a lot of meetings with ADEC representatives who explain all about NDIS and help me with claims. They're fantastic and it is a good support for my family,” she explains.
That’s an important reason why Chi says increased government funding is critical to ensure ADEC has the capacity to keep serving ethnically-diverse people in need.
“I would like to see our governments invest more in ADEC. The Social Support Groups need funding to organise the activities that keep us connected. This is very important for the most vulnerable people in our society.
“The sense of belonging I’ve found through ADEC has been transformative. I’d recommend that anyone in the Vietnamese or any community who is considering joining an ADEC Support Group should take that step. It can be a life-changing decision.”
Please click the following links to learn more about ADEC’s support services , or contact us on (03) 9480 7000.