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Refugees, migrants and asylum seekers deemed ineligible for government subsidised training who have migrated to South-West Melbourne will soon have access to formal English language classes, helping to ease their transition into the community.

The Williamstown Community and Education Centre received a $10,000 Slater and Gordon Community Fund grant which will fund the Welcome to Australia program, providing free classes for migrants at both Joan Kirner House in Williamstown and Spotswood Community House.

CEO Dr Mark Brophy said the program, starting in July, will provide qualified and experienced teachers in a supportive and engaging environment for participants.

“The Williamstown Community and Education Centre currently facilitates an English language program for local residents however many refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are not eligible for the program and cannot afford to pay full fees,” Dr Brophy said.

“Through the Welcome to Australia program, we will be able to offer free and professional English lessons to participants while also creating a network of likeminded members of the community to help ease their transition into South-West Melbourne."

“Our experience with similar programs has demonstrated that taking these people out of an isolated environment and into an informal community centre environment can have immediate and profound results on their development.

“The skills they acquire will assist participants through tasks such as sitting a citizenship tests, getting a drivers licence, finding employment and developing friendships and we are hopeful that through this program we can provide ongoing support while also reflecting the interests and needs of all sectors of the community.”

Melbourne based Principal Lawyer Andrew Baker congratulated the Williamstown Community and Education Centre on their efforts to reduce isolation within South-West Melbourne.

“The Slater and Gordon Community Fund program was created to support community projects, particularly those that promote social inclusion,” Mr Baker said.

“The program will give participants the skills they need to seek employment or further study and to integrate into their new community.

“We are committed to limiting the barriers for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and I congratulate Williamstown Community and Education Centre for developing such a beneficial initiative.”

Migrants or anyone who may benefit from the program can contact the centre directly on (03) 9397 6168 or at admin@wcec.com.au.

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