Since 2006, Kaled Ajaj has been a Multicultural Service Officer (MSO) at the Department of Human Services, based in in Geelong, Victoria.
“MSOs help customers during their first few years settling into a new way of life here,” Kaled says.
For newly arrived migrants and refugees, coming to Australia may involve learning a new way of life and culture, and overcoming language barriers.
“I love helping our customers feel empowered. I give migrants and refugees the information and tools they need to access our services and make their own decisions,” says Kaled.
“It’s really important for them to feel comfortable with us. By showing them we care, we listen, we understand and we can give them the right information, that’s the first step to building trust.”
“And you can see it in their face when you’ve gained a person’s trust. Even if they can’t say ‘thank you’ in English, their body language tells me, either by a simple smile or when they put their hand on their heart and nod.”
When working with new communities, Kaled makes sure to learn about their backgrounds and have a thorough understanding of resources available to them.
“Geelong is home to various emerging communities, so I need to do my research and be across where our customers are from and what languages they speak,” Kaled explains.
“It’s an MSOs job to know all the services and payments they can access through the department, as well as other support agencies in their local area.”
“Especially when our customers have a language barrier, it can be very helpful to link them with community groups and organisations.
“That way they can gain information and knowledge from people that speak the same language and have been through the same settlement journey.”
Outside of work Kaled is also a part of the interfaith network.
“The network helps people from different faiths and cultures get along, which is what social cohesion is about,” says Kaled..
“After all, we are here together in one country. We are working together, shopping together and of course living together.
“It doesn’t matter where people come from, we all have a common goal to succeed in this country and that brings everyone together.”
After 10 years as an MSO, Kaled feels very privileged he can help others walk the path he has been down when he came to Australia.
“I love my job! I love seeing customers succeed.”
“Seeing how far they have come five, ten years down the track is very rewarding. Knowing I helped make them happy and settled in a new country, with a house to live in, kids in school and improved English skills is amazing.”