Members of the Newcastle Chinese community meet at Hunter Multicultural Communities to open the garden.
Newcastle’s Chinese community is overcoming pandemic induced fear and isolation thanks to an innovative multicultural partnership launched by civic champion and TAFE NSW Community Services student Jie Tang.
Jie has lived in Australia for 12 years and spent the pandemic supporting his Chinese neighbours and friends, including collecting groceries for them when they were too fearful to leave the house.
“It was a really confusing time for the older people with Chinese background especially, they were getting mixed messages from the Chinese government about going out and the impacts of COVID, and they were also afraid of being blamed for the so-called ‘China virus’,” said Jie.
Studying a Certificate IV in Community Services at TAFE NSW Glendale, Jie is learning skills like building relationships in the community, planning and conducting group activities, and working within a community development strategic framework.
“The purpose of the framework unit is to give students the opportunity to practically use the theory they’ve learned to deliver a real-world community project,” said TAFE NSW Community Services Teacher, James Campbell. “The first step is finding something they’re passionate about and interested in.”
With Mr Campbell’s support, Jie was inspired to approach Hunter Multicultural Communities at Waratah with an idea to develop a Chinese community garden.
“It all started because I was thinking of ways to get the community outside again, to feel safe and like they were contributing,” said Jie. “I suggested to them that gardening would be a positive and social idea, where they plant herbs and vegetables and share recipes. They had lots of questions, but they loved idea.”
Hunter Multicultural Communities, and its mission to provide for the diverse needs of all people within multicultural communities in the Hunter Region, proved the right fit for Jie’s project. Community Engagement Officer Karen Varnum said incorporating the Chinese garden into the existing community garden has been a great success.
“Jie’s project has a real purpose, and it’s giving the local Chinese community a great opportunity to socialise in a welcoming environment where they plant and potter and share recipes,” said Ms Varnum.
The group meets up every second Friday to tend to the garden, socialise – and feel part of the community once again.
“From little things big things grow, and Jie’s TAFE NSW studies have enabled a wonderful project which is having a positive impact on Newcastle’s Chinese community,” said Mr Campbell.
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Media contact: Amy Johnson, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, 02 7921 0354.