Mary’s Making a World of Difference

This year’s annual National Volunteer Week May 20-26 is a celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers.

Volunteering Australia estimate thousands of events will be held across the country to celebrate and thank the six million Australians who volunteer their time to the community.

Volunteering Australia CEO Adrienne Picone says volunteers contribute an estimated annual economic and social contribution of $290 billion.

The theme of the 2019 celebrations is ‘making a world of difference’, and that’s exactly what STEPS Education & Training volunteer tutor Mary Martin is doing for her cohort of Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) students in the Northern Territory.

Mary has worked for the Northern Territory government in a range of roles for more than 34 years, largely in the field of workforce attraction and skilled migration.

She is on verge of retirement and said she was looking for a volunteering activity that was going to be both challenging and rewarding.

“Working in skilled migration exposed me to many cultures and gave me an in-depth insight into the importance of English language in employment and career progression in Australia,” Mary said.

“It has also highlighted to me the challenges adults from different backgrounds face in language acquisition.

“The Australian workforce is quite unique, particularly with the hierarchical orientation, this presents many challenges to migrants.

“I initially volunteered with STEPS as I believed that my background would place me well to help others and would give me a meaningful activity in retirement,” she said.

Mary’s long list of credentials certainly makes her more than just ‘well placed’ to support migrants learning English and settle in to Australian life.

She holds a Certificate IV in Credit Management, a Bachelor of Business, Master of Business in International Business & Marketing and a Graduate Certificate in Migration Law.

She’s participated in international ministerial delegations and represented the Northern Territory in Ministerial and Senior Official skilled migration policy groups.

But it is her kind spirit and reliability that makes her stand out and shine to her students and co-workers at STEPS Darwin.

STEPS Darwin business manager Michael Crawley says Mary is a passionate and committed volunteer.

“She is very valuable to all of us here, teachers, staff and students, we’re lucky to have her,” he said.

Mary believes the AMEP cohort are unique.

“Their personal stories are quite levelling,” she said.

“I think we generally don’t appreciate the personal hardship they have experienced, sometimes I think as Australians we don’t know how lucky we are,” Mary said.

“I am continuing to learn through my volunteering and I feel I am getting more back from the students and staff than I am contributing.

STEPS Darwin have a range of interesting and rewarding volunteer roles available for people of all abilities and backgrounds, get in touch and find that rewarding feeling of ‘giving back’ on 1300 585 868.

The Adult Migrant English Program is funded by the Australian Government and provides up to 510 hours of free English language lessons to eligible migrants and humanitarian entrants.

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