When you get to a point where people feel comfortable enough to talk with you, it feels great. VOLUNTEER PROFILE GET ACTIVE. BE INVOLVED.
all the different receptionists and nurses in the hospital. Having a familiar face to help them out I think makes a difficult experience a little easier. No day at the clinic is ever the same. Sometimes parents and families get nervous, so we do whatever we can to make them feel comfortable. Sometimes there are larger families at the clinic, and our day might involve entertaining the brothers and sisters of the children getting vaccinations.
AM-UNITY Interview with Yolanda Majano as told to Grace Butcher Yolanda Majano volunteers at the Immigration Health Clinic, helping to provide a weekly outpatient service for recently arrived refugee and asylum seeker children. The clinic operates on Monday afternoons as part of the Royal Children’s Hospital Immigration Health Service. She is also completing her Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne and works part-time as a swimming teacher for children with physical and mental disabilities.
I have benefitted so much from volunteering at the clinic. Working there, you can’t help but see and learn things I have learnt that every case and every family is different, and that what’s needed is patience and initiative. It has been especially rewarding to be able to talk to people in the clinic. When you get to a point where people feel comfortable enough to talk with you, it feels great. Children have so much character and they are a lot of fun to be around.
“Last year I applied to volunteer at the Royal Children’s Hospital because at the time, I was considering a career in pediatrics. Although I have since discovered that I am more interested in speech pathology, the decision to volunteer at the Immigration Health Clinic has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.
I wouldn’t say that I am particularly interested in politics. A lot of the time I get frustrated by what I see as a lot of talking and not much doing. But that is not to say that I don’t want to help. This was my way. It is hands on and I’m directly helping people on a day-to-day basis.
I began working at the clinic in September of last year. During high school I signed up for a program to help Sudanese refugees in my area with their homework after school. Because of my experience in refugee support programs, when I applied for a volunteer position at the hospital, they placed me in the Immigration Health Clinic.
My family comes from El Salvador. My dad came to Australia seeking political asylum. He was a university student at the time the military in El Salvador were forcefully taking young men into the army. He was taken off a bus and to a camp. He was held by the military under terrible conditions until my grandma found him and demanded that they release him. A few days later he was let out. That was when my family decided to leave. At the time, Australia, Canada and parts of Europe were taking refugees from El Salvador. Dad’s family chose Australia. On the 25th September 1985, they arrived in Australia. My mum came five years later.
The clinic operates as part of the Immigration Health Service provided by the Royal Children’s Hospital. At the clinic there are highly specialised doctors, with expert knowledge in areas such as refugee health and rare diseases, as well as dental nurses who visit fortnightly. Many children who visit the clinic come because they are vitamin D deficient, or need to be tested for tuberculosis.
Most days I collect patients from the waiting room, take them to be weighed and measured and then to the doctor for their appointment. Patients at the clinic will have an interpreter with them when seeing the doctor, but interpreters are always busy and don’t have time to help patients after consultations. Once they’ve seen the doctor, they usually require blood tests or x-rays or medications, so often I take them to pathology or the immunisation centre and even the pharmacy.
For more information about the Immigration Health Service and the Royal Children’s Hospital volunteering program, click on the links provided. For information on refugee volunteer organisations, see the list compiled in this issue of AM-UNITY.
It can be challenging for parents with language barriers to talk to
AM-UNITY MAG EDITION 2
Volunteering at the clinic has given me a greater understanding of the experience of refugees and asylum seekers in our current climate, and a more tangible understanding of what my family went through to get to Australia. For anyone who wants to get involved in refugee support services, my advice is to find something you’re interested in and go from there. At the end of the day, volunteer organisations need people with skills. Find yours and go for it!”
As a volunteer, my job is to help children and their families navigate their way through the hospital. This can be a daunting task for many who don’t speak English or are unfamiliar with the hospital systems.
This edition of AM-UNITY Magazine sees a focus on Refugee/Asylum Seeker Rights, Afghan Women’s Rights and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgende...