National training provider Navitas Skilled Futures is encouraging NDIS clients in Western Sydney and the ACT, and volunteer tutors, to sign up for the Volunteer Tutor Scheme (VTS). 

The scheme delivers Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) learning benefits, funded by the Department of Home Affairs, directly to students who have physical difficulties commuting to campuses, until they are ready and able to attend formal AMEP lessons.  

Approximately 10 per cent of people accessing the NDIS come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.  

Navitas Skilled Futures VTS coordinator Marcella Aguila said students and tutors get much more out of the program than just learning English. “It really is about empowering people through understanding how to access services, advocate for themselves, and gain self-confidence. It is challenging to be unwell or have disabilities and not be able to get out and start to live your life in a new country,” she said. 

Sonia El-Haddad, pictured, is a Sydney-based volunteer tutor who was matched with a fellow Arabic-speaking woman, a widow and mother-of-five in her 60s, living with physical and neurological health issues, as well as financial issues. 

“She really loves to learn English, but with her health difficulties, family commitments and financial issues on top of her disabilities, attending formal lessons are difficult for her to manage,” El-Haddad said. “She wants to be independent, and it is giving her confidence.” 

The organisation has 180 active tutors in South-West Sydney and Canberra, but needs more, particularly female Arabic speakers in Fairfield and Liverpool areas. Providing the opportunity to engage in a meaningful way with new arrivals to their local community, and supporting their settlement through language, volunteer tutors will find the role extremely rewarding.

For more on becoming a volunteer tutor and to sign up, visit: