For many years, the Vietnamese Australian Welfare Association has provided the welfare services to hundreds of children, youth and their parents. However, this is the first time we had an opportunity to explore a special circumstance of a big family in Fairfield.

From the referral of our friend, 9 Cambodian people came to VAWA in a beautiful day. The father (75 years old) sponsored a young wife, her two daughters and 5 foster children (14 – 23 years old) a few weeks ago. After the first meeting, we built a good relationship together, implemented a thorough assessment and made a plan for our case management.

In the next day, we visited this family to have a clear picture about their lives. It was unbelievable! A 2 bedroom flat with 9 people! They only have a double bed for parent and children. The others are studying and sleeping on the floor. Nothing else! No table, television, computer. In the kitchen, there is only rice, salt and fish sauce. The man rents and pays $320.00/week for this private house. They receive the Centrelink allowances for 4 people with a total income about $550.00/week. After pay for rent, they have left $230.00 to spend for everything in a week. The average income/week for each person is $230/9 = $25.00 or $3.50/day. They must make ends meet to keep their budget does not be deficit. At the moment, they cannot enjoy shopping, go to restaurant or spend money for the recreational games.

Understanding their situation, we have supported this family quickly. Filling form of community housing with our suggestion to have an emergency response for this case, writing support letters to some charity agencies to help them the financial assistance, working with schools and TAFEs to enrol the appropriate courses for children and young people, liaising with Centrelink to ask some welfare entitlements for them, introducing young people to participate the youth activities in the local areas. In the beginning days of their settlement, we made efforts to respond their needs as much as we can. They are really happy and surprised to get useful and reliable support from the Vietnamese welfare workers. As a result, they have kept in close contact with us regularly. We wish we could contribute a hand to help the vulnerable people in our society.

Van Pham (VAWA)