SETS Program

Our Settlement, Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program provides free settlement support to eligible visa holders from refugee and migrant backgrounds who have been in Australia less than 5 years. We support them to build a new life in regional Victoria.

Our Settlement services support people with:

  • Understanding Australian systems and forms
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Building stronger communities and meaningful connections to community
  • Groups and casework to support young people
  • Bilingual settlement workers and interpreter support

We work with our partners in the Regional Multicultural Consortium that provide these services across regional Victoria.
SETS is funded by the Australian Federal Government.

Thrive Garden Project

Last month BRMC visited the Food is Free Laneway and Green Space in Ripon St, Ballarat Central. We were shown around by founder and director, Lou Risdale. The Food is Free Laneway is all about food security, education and community. It is a place of welcome where you can pick up free fruit, herbs and vegetables to feed your household. You can also drop off extra food from your garden to share with others. The Laneway is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. You will also find free pots, seeds and seedlings to help you grow at home. At the Green Space, just a block further up, you can drop off food waste to compost, volunteer in the gardens that supply the Laneway or attend one of the many workshops they run, from home composting to backyard chickens. Visit to learn more.

Photo: Food is Free Laneway (left to right) Rebecca Marsh, Ann Foley, Lou Risdale and Heeyoung Lim

Back at Barkly Square, Thrive has just installed three more wicking beds in the Forecourt area and we are busy preparing for the fundraising plant stall at the Harmony Market on March 26. We are calling for volunteers to raise plants for sale, donate plants for sale and pots/potting mix/labels. The latter can be dropped off at Ballarat Welcome Centre now and plants can be dropped off in the week prior to the market.

For more information contact

Community Engagement Team

‘Living Together Box’ program

The ‘Living Together Box’ service launched on 23 February. Supported by the Victorian Government and Ballarat Italian Association (BIA), the service will assist people from migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds to overcome difficulties due to COVID- 19, by providing families with regular food and daily necessities.

BRMC Community Engagement Team delivers fresh fruit and vegetables (provided by BIA) once a month, and daily necessities (supported by the Victorian Government) once a month, in alternate weeks.

This service is linked to the ‘Fresh Food Drop-Off’ program, run last year by BRMC and BRASSN. During COVID restrictions, the Fresh Food Drop-Off utilised close connections of community groups to provide donated fresh food and food funded by the Victorian Government. BRMC is aware of the continuing need for fresh food and daily necessities for vulnerable households in the Ballarat multicultural community. In response to this need, BRMC and BIA planned the Living Together Box service. Although this service is a five month program, we hope it will greatly help multicultural families in Ballarat that are experiencing financial difficulties.

Photo: BRMC Community Engagement Team members Lunorphare Folly, Heeyoung Lim, Nyepuot Riek and Abdul Rasuli, with Ballarat Italian Association committee members Carla Woodruff and Alisdair Horgen (with son Henrik).

‘Developing Our Children Together’ program

The BRMC Developing Our Children Together program launched this month, on 4 March. Through this program, multicultural parents can get useful information in a comfortable and safe space, and can also share their beautiful culture, language, and values with other parents.

We hope parents have meaningful and enjoyable opportunities with other parents, whilst increasing the use of early parenting services.

Time: 10am – 12pm
Group 1, 7 sessions: March 4, 11, 18, 25 | April 22, 29 | May 6
Group 2, 7 sessions: May 27 | June 3, 10, 17, 24 | July 15, 22

If you would like to join this program or need further information, please contact Community Engagement Team Leader, Heeyoung:

Stepping Stones to Small Business

International Women’s Day – Online Event

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate all of the resourceful and resilient women who have graduated from the Stepping Stones Program since 2011. This year Stepping Stones is planning a unique online event with special guests the Victorian Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams, MP and the Treasurer of Victoria Tim Pallas, MP.

On Thursday, 25 March from 11am, the Stepping Stones story will be told through the voices of graduates whose aspirations have soared, whose strengths have been tested, and whose hard work has paid dividends through the 2020 COVID period with the support of Stepping Stones.

Guests will be able to interact with Stepping Stones presenters and ask them questions about their journey, and all will be invited to rejoice in the positive difference that Stepping Stones has made in the lives of women and their families across Victoria.

Register online:

Stepping Stones Mentors

Stepping Stones Mentors from both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will come together for the first time in March for a collaborative Community of Practice meeting where they can share experiences, expertise, advice and reflections on the challenging and rewarding practice of supporting women in achieving their goals.

Stepping Stones Sewing Group

A special Stepping Stones Sewing Group including Melbourne and regional Victorian women whose enterprises tap those skills convened for the first time to share ideas about their businesses and explore how to develop new customers. Ballarat graduates Mary Deng and Nyibol Deng, from the businesses Mat Tetni and ATUK, respectively, talked to the women about their experiences as active vendors in local farmers’ and makers’ markets, and about what the women would need to plan for in taking that step themselves.

Good Governance Program

The Good Governance program offers free mentoring support to community organisations, cultural groups and associations looking for governance and compliance advice.

Vivian, the Coordinator of our newest member group ‘The Red Sunset’ shares the story of their group:

“Everyone deserves happiness, especially older people. When my Mum came to Australia with no English, no friends and no confidence, I was worried. My friend Jun and I decided build a group for our mums. We didn’t know there were more old people who would join the group.

With more and more events going on, more people joining in and people requesting different activities, we felt we needed help to manage the group. We also needed to think about the future of this club. So we decided to join the Good Governance program to support us to understand the rules and compliance issues related to formalising this group that makes good things happen to the old people in our community.

Today, we organise different activities like Tai Qi, singing, dancing, chatting, training and learning every Saturday morning 10am – 12pm for the Red Sunset group. When we see our Mums smile, we know we are doing something right.”

Zoom Workshops – All are welcome to join!
These free Governance workshops on Zoom act as team building and realignment exercises for mentors and community organisations.
The next workshop ‘Managing the culture and values’ will take place on 23 March.
For more details, contact Ballarat Host Coordinator, Sarabjit at

Community Volunteers: Migrant English Program

Did you know? Our MEP team offers one-on-one mentoring to individuals preparing for their IELTS, OET, PTE and TOEFL assessments. The tutors’ Community of Practice session on 8 February had the team sharing stories of their students’ successes and struggles. Innovative teaching ideas and resources were shared to help the tutors empower their students with the knowledge and skills to navigate their language learning goals.

The Migrant English Program (MEP) provides free online English learning support to clients in Ballarat, Ararat and Horsham. We are proud of our committed team of volunteer tutors whose untiring efforts continue to empower individuals find better work and social opportunities.

Meet Donya and her tutor Anna:

“I first started tutoring with the Ballarat and Regional Multicultural Council in March of 2018. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity as I was studying writing and publishing at the time – language has always been a keen interest of mine. I met Donya at her house for our first lesson, a little nervous, but mostly excited for what was to come.

Our lessons progressed gradually, as we both took the time to learn how we communicated. We accommodated the others’ learning and teaching styles, becoming more confident each time we met. Three years later, Donya and I are still having regular lessons. We’ve managed to meet up consistently despite life events like house moves and work commitments, as well as national lockdowns. The confidence that our regular lessons have instilled in Donya is inspiring – she consistently pushes herself to learn and is tenacious in her pursuit of growth.

I now have not only a student for life, but a friend for life, too.”

Find out more about this learning community: Sarabjit

Diversity Homework Club

It’s March and we’re running into the second month of our DHC meetings! The students are gearing up to win Reading Awards as they participate in the activities designed to make learning joyful. Liseni’s ‘Word Play’ and Brendan’s ‘Times Tables Bingo!’ have the students having fun as they learn. The Science videos shared by the tutors add something to our knowledge bank each week. It’s fun. It’s free. We love it!

If you’d like to join the team as a student or tutor, contact Sarabjit at

‘A Better Place’ Virtual Choir (Online Launch) – Harmony Fest 2021
The Diversity Homework Club virtual choir ‘A Better Place’ will be released online on 28 March to celebrate diversity and the joy of collaborative learning.
Follow us on Facebook to be the first to watch the choir!

School’s Out! Creative Workshops

The School’s Out! Creative Workshops have a full program of activities planned through the first term, including traditional Stick Weaving, Song Writing and Interpretation, Creating Animated Drawings, and Creating Crystal Dream Catchers.

Fingers crossed, Creative Workshops students will be able to meet in-person for the first time during the Term 1 School Holidays, working one-on-one with artist facilitators to fashion unique items that reflect cultural traditions as well as offer embedded learning opportunities in literacy, numeracy and science.

For more information, contact School’s Out! Coordinator Deborah Klein,

Social Support

We had a great start to our Social Support programs in 2021 with 86 clients attending the first Multicultural Tucker in February. With a Dutch-themed three-course lunch and some great nostalgic live music inviting many to take to the dance floor, our Seniors appeared to enjoy the event, especially delighted to have the opportunity to be together again, meeting up with old friends and meeting new acquaintances.

The Social Support Team received fantastic support from 7 of our volunteers whose tireless effort (from setting up, serving meals, washing up, transport etc.) contributed to a wonderful day for our Seniors.

The snap COVID-related lockdown meant a cancellation of other planned February programs such as Social Hub and Seasonal Lunch; we were able to hold 2 of our weekly Tai Chi classes which are becoming increasingly popular. At this stage, we are planning to hold all our March programs.

March Programs

Tai Chi: March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 1pm – 2pm ($8)
Multicultural Tucker (Maltese Theme): Wednesday 10 March, 12pm – 2.30pm ($10)
Bus Trip: Monday 15 March ($40)
Social Hub: Thursday 18 March, 1pm – 3pm ($5)
Seasonal Lunch: Wednesday 31 March, 12pm – 2pm ($10)

All programs will be held at Victoria Bowling Club, 231 Victoria St, Ballarat East. Bookings are essential.

If you know someone who would benefit from BRMC Social Support Services, contact Teresa on 0417 109 052 or

Community Matters Podcast – New Episodes

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are pleased to share conversations with two extraordinary women through our Community Matters Podcast, hosted by Bobby Mehta.

Community Matters: Episode 2 – Yvon Davis

Yvon was a journalist with SBS for many years before taking on other various roles. A former City of Ballarat Multicultural Ambassador and current Intercultural Advisor. We are honoured to share an inspiring conversation of her life’s journey.


Community Matters: Episode 3 – Rachel Muir

Rachel is a Proud Yorta Yorta Woman, born and raised on Wadawurrung land in Ballarat. She is the first female Aboriginal candidate to stand for election for the City of Ballarat in 2020. Rachel has contributed so much to the life of the community.