Wicki’s guide to Australia

Wicki Wickiramasingham with the Tamil guide. 127637 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS


A TAMIL community leader hopes a new guide to life in the south east will make new arrivals self-sufficient.
Wicki Wickiramasingham spearheaded the Victorian Tamil Cultural Association resource booklet, A Complete Guide to Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Newly-Arrived Migrants in Australia.
Its content spans from shaking hands to setting up a bank account.
City of Greater Dandenong provided money towards the publication through its community grants program and launched it at the Dandenong Civic Centre last Wednesday, 24 September.
Wicki came to Australia from Sri Lanka in 1988 with his wife and two young children.
He’s since dedicated his time to helping other migrants find their place in the community, working as an interpreter and translator, and was named a Greater Dandenong Living Treasure.
In his work as an interpreter, Wicki regularly encounters refugees who’ve had trouble finding their way around the rules and regulations in their new home.
“When I arrived there was nothing like this,” he said.
“I thought I wanted to do something for the newly-arrived migrants through our organisation. I’m one of the founding members.”
He said new arrivals encountered problems with even seemingly simple things like a driver’s licence.
“They drive without a driver’s licence. I explained how to get one,” he said.
“I thought of writing in our own language.”
Wicki collected information from various departments and compiled it.
“This book is specially compiled for the benefit of residents in the south-east region of Melbourne,” he said.
Tax file numbers, Medicare, bank accounts, Department of Human Services and Centrelink are all topics covered.
English classes and library, emergency and migrant services are also detailed.
The booklet directs readers to ethnic and community organisations, the Australian Human Rights Commission, health and well-being services, community radios and interpreting services.
It details how the different tiers of government work, how the education system is structured, consumer rights, and how to greet people when meeting for the first time.
“They don’t know why we shake hands, or some people kiss on the cheek,” he said.
Wicki would like to see other communities produce a similar guide.