Welcome to the September edition of AFFMA’s monthly newsletter
This month, we focus on AFFMA’s recent achievements, namely, AFFMA’s prestigious award, the quality of our teams, our plan to offer assistance in spouse visa applications and, finally, our CEO’s personal achievements and plans.
2016 Regional Volunteer Team of the Year Award
AFFMA has won the prestigious 2016 Regional Volunteer Team of the Year Award in August this year. The Centre for Volunteering and the Minister for Multiculturalism presented the award. This award meant that AFFMA was finally recognised for its pro bono legal and migration volunteer services. Since its foundation, AFFMA has kept its doors open by the sheer commitment of its volunteer staff and has been able to draft winning submissions and lodge successful visa applications to the Department of Home Affairs, thus helping asylum seekers prove their status as refugees.
Who are AFFMA’s winning volunteers?
Next, who are AFFMA’s winning volunteers? To answer this question, this section of the newsletter will focus on one of AFFMA’s volunteer teams. Today, I’m proud to report on the work of the volunteers who make up the Strategy Sub-Committee, headed by AFFMA’s Board Member and Communications Director, Karyn Clarke. Karyn owns a website development agency, Hubsite Builder. She has a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience in website design and has tirelessly offered her expertise to AFFMA from the very beginning.
She designed and has been servicing AFFMA’s website totally unpaid. She also regularly grows AFFMA’s communication technology within our Newtown office and beyond. As Karyn is also an experienced business planner, the sub-committee, under her guidance, is reviewing AFFMA’s business plan for the big to medium picture as a guide to our volunteers in administration, marketing, fundraising and public relations. Karyn pointed out to me the many hours of research and input that was provided to her by the office volunteers, especially, Jonny, Corey and Daniel who are all trained, supported and supervised by our CEO, Joël Gédéon, This is precisely the reason why AFFMA’s volunteers are able to transition so well into paid employment. This same section in October will focus on our newsletter team.
Regarding volunteers, before I move on, I would like to point out that AFFMA also keeps attracting high calibre volunteers. We welcome a former migration agent who has taken the role of Senior Practice Manager and a lawyer who has taken the role of administrator/Acting CEO bringing the total of AFFMA’s dedicated volunteers to 25.
Spouse Visa Applications
Thirdly, Spouse Visa Applications: Under the ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission) legislation, AFFMA, (and charities in general), can charge a fee for its services in order to raise funds for its charitable work. Therefore, since AFFMA does not get any government funding, we are pleased to announce that we will extend our services to offer assistance in Spouse Visa Applications. Donations for the spousal service will support AFFMA’s asylum seekers and refugees fee free charitable work. Migration agents who are experienced in spouse visas and interested in volunteering their services to AFFMA, are encouraged to contact us. We shall report more details on this in the coming month.
AFFMA plans to open an independent, commercial legal practice in early 2017
Lastly, our CEO, Joël Gédéon, apart from being a migration agent, is now also on his way to becoming a lawyer. Dedicated to the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, he has just recently successfully completed both his Juris Doctor law degree and his PLT (Practical Legal Training). We are eagerly awaiting his admission to legal practice and the date for his admission ceremony (the submission is currently before the Legal Practitioners Admission Board). With that in mind, let it be said that AFFMA plans to open an independent, commercial legal practice in early 2017. To that effect, AFFMA is advertising for an experienced solicitor as the Principal of the legal practice. The aim is that, in years to come, the law practice will be in a position to contribute funding to AFFMA (stay tuned for more details in the coming months).
From all of us at AFFMA, we wish you a happy and safe Labour Day long weekend.
Sabine Lorenz, ,LLB, DipLegPrac., Grad.Cert.Migration Law, Certification in Leadership and Transformational Coaching