Community Spotlight Lorraine Barnes

Lorraine is one of the first volunteers to sign up to the Community Northern Beaches ESL Conversation Project. Earlier this year, it became apparent that although many new Tibetan migrants have completed courses and are now qualified for work, they may not be taken on by employers due to their lack of English skills. Thus, the ESL Conversation programme was born. The programme involves a volunteer being matched with a Tibetan local with the aim of them meeting once per week in a public place to participate in an everyday situation such as having a coffee or shopping. The end goal of this programme is simply to ensure new migrants have enough conversational English to feel confident in a job interview and be able to follow instructions when offered a job.

Lorraine is a professional singer who has lived on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for 3 years with her partner Joe and their pet poodle, Lucy. Lorraine has no previous experience teaching English and although she admits to feeling daunted initially, she is now thoroughly enjoying the experience of volunteering and finds it very rewarding. A bonus is that Lorraine has learnt so much about the Tibetan culture which she finds fascinating. Her experience has proven so successful, that Lorraine is currently in the process of being matched with her second Tibetan student.

Phyl Jelinek, ESL Volunteer Co-ordinator met with Lorraine to find out more about the experience;

What motivated you to volunteer as an ESL Teacher?

Lorraine with poodle, Lucy

Lorraine with poodle, Lucy

For some time now I have been watching the news about Syria, but had no idea how I could help people so far away. It then struck me that migrants of every nationality have experienced horrific and challenging times in their own countries, so perhaps I could help the migrant community on the Northern Beaches in some small way.

How did you find out about the programme?

I saw an article in the Manly Daily with a photo of Maria Chidzey, so I thought I would go along to the information day.

How were you matched with your student?

It worked out that my student (from Tibet) was available at the same time as me, on a Tuesday, so it was a convenient match.

Where do you meet and how often?

Jigme and I meet once per week at Dee Why Library. We allocate an hour but we often keep going when the hour is up. We’re both flexible and enjoy the arrangement. We have become good friends.

Does your student, Jigme, speak much English?

Very little. She is keen to pass her certificate to allow her to work as a cleaner, so I have been spending time teaching her the things she needs to know to pass that test such as colours and important signs and labels. Jigme is also at TAFE but she finds the courses rather overwhelming at times, so I help her with that too.

What skills do you think are helpful to volunteer for this programme?

I think it’s very important to be patient and take time to develop a good relationship with your student. Settling into a new country is not an easy experience for anyone and it’s a privilege to be able to help new migrants to learn English and hopefully make it a little easier for them to navigate their lives in this country.

What challenges have you faced as part of this programme?

I have had to consider Jigme’s cultural background and the difficulties she may have lived through in order to get to Australia. I always remind myself to be culturally aware and allow her to let me know what she needs from the lessons rather than be rigid in imposing my own ideas. She is quite shy and building her confidence is challenging sometimes, although she is very keen to learn and we have now developed a wonderful friendly, trusting relationship.

If you would like to know more about volunteering for the ESL Conversation Programme or are a new migrant looking to improve your English, please contact us for more information.

Related Stories:


Dhondup Dhondup

The story of a Tibetan migrant now supporting other migrants

Click here to read…

Weaving Bridges Project

Join weaving workshops with local artists and members
of the Northern Beaches Aboriginal community and contribute
to a public artwork that will be displayed on Stuart Somerville
Bridge in Queenscliff. This project forms part of the 2018
Gai-mariagal Festival.

Thursdays, 24 May – 5 July, 1 – 3pm
Community Northern Beaches, Manly

Wednesdays, 30 May, 13 & 20 June, 6 – 8pm
Creative Space, North Curl Curl

Artwork Celebration
Tuesday 10 July, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Queenscliff Surf Club (light refreshments provided)

Free (no bookings required)
Enquiries: Arts & Culture Team on 9942 2969

Weaving Bridges 2018.jpg

Homelessness on the Northern Beaches

Daniel Peterson - Homeless Outreach Worker - Community Northern Beaches.jpg

Manly is a beautiful area of Sydney, yet sometimes we forget that not everyone living here has a roof over their head and a safe place to sleep. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate, and can affect anyone. Daniel Peterson is Community Northern Beach’s Homeless Outreach Worker and offers support to people who are experiencing, or at risk of homelessness. ‘Once I find someone who needs my support, I’ll sit down with them and assess their needs, and work out how we are going to help them, both in the centre and also with external pathways like referrals for housing, or other wrap-around support,’ Daniel says. ‘It’s really important because we are identifying people who need help and we’re advocating for them, we’re able to be a voice for them.’

In the last 5 years, the rate of homelessness on the Northern Beaches has increased by 63%, and Daniel agrees it’s a big problem, even if it’s not as obvious as in other areas of Sydney. ‘There’s certainly a lot of couch surfers and people who are living in cars on the Northern Beaches, so it doesn’t appear as obvious but it’s definitely there. I think in Australia there are some that are quick to judge those experiencing homelessness, as they think they just need to get a job, be disciplined, work hard and sort their problems out themselves. But having that kind of viewpoint doesn’t acknowledge the complexities of issues that people are experiencing and the trauma that some have experienced. It’s hard to empathise if you haven’t been through the same circumstances.’

Beds .jpg

The drop-in centre at Community Northern Beaches offers free hot coffee/tea and pastries during the week, as well as food and supplies for people in need. The door is always open for anyone wanting to come in for a chat, or to seek help from Daniel or any one of our workers or volunteers. ‘For someone to reach out and say ‘I want to hear your story’, ‘I want to know what’s happened’, it helps people feel validated and not so isolated. ‘Isolation is a huge problem for people experiencing homelessness, constantly feeling ignored and marginalised from society for so long. We all need to work towards de-stigmatising homelessness and be as inclusive as we can possibly be’.

Daniel’s role is diverse, and keeps him constantly busy. Anywhere from two to ten individuals will come to the centre or call on the phone each day, seeking help, advice or sometimes just to chat. He is either based at the drop-in centre, or out and about seeking out people sleeping rough. ‘I’d encourage anyone feeling concerned about this issue to not be afraid to talk to those experiencing homelessness, even if you feel you have nothing to offer them, just talk, and more importantly, listen. You’ll find you hear so much trauma and hurt, but also so many incredible stories. Reaching out in this way will have an impact, and you can refer them to us. Homelessness is always going to exist in our culture unfortunately, as we can’t stop mental health issues from occurring and we can’t stop relationship breakdowns in people’s lives. What we can do is let those experiencing homelessness know they’re not alone and that there are people out there wanting to help them get back on their feet’.

wishing well.jpg

With winter and cold weather fast approaching, Community Northern Beaches is currently seeking sleeping bags, beanies, socks and backpacks to help those in need. We really appreciate when the community donates supplies, as it enables us to create positive relationships with our clients and helps us provide better care. If you have any items to donate please call 9977 1066 or please drop them off during the week from 10-3pm at 12 Wentworth St, Manly.

Dhondup’s Story

Dhondup Dhondup – the story of a Tibetan migrant now supporting other migrants

We are lucky enough to have a large community of Tibetan individuals and families living in the Northern Beaches. Some have lived here their whole lives, and others have arrived only recently. At Community Northern Beaches we want to make sure everyone feels at home when they arrive, and want to make this transition as easy as possible.

Dhondup close up.jpg

Dhondup is employed as our Tibetan Settlement Worker at Community Northern Beaches, and helps the Tibetan community with a wide range of services and support. He helps Tibetans to connect with local service providers (banks, Centrelink, job centres, employment agents, etc) to develop their eligibility for citizenship, and helps them to connect with other Tibetans and others families in the community. Dhondup’s position is funded by the Government’s Settlement Services International (SSI) and his job also includes co-ordinating and arranging English tutoring, driving courses, swimming lessons, and other services to assist with Tibetan integration into Australian life.

Whilst Dhondup is devoted to providing support and helping other Tibetans, his own story of growing up in Tibet and how he arrived in Australia is nothing short of remarkable.

Dhondup was born in a small rural village in Tibet in 1984, a country occupied by the Chinese Communist government since 1959. His family were poor farmers and could not afford to send his older siblings to the expensive local primary school. By the time Dhondup was born his older siblings had been working for some time and fortunately there was enough money in the family to send him to primary school.

When Dhondup got to high school, the Chinese patriotic re-education policy determined that the only language of instruction in the state funded schools was Mandarin, and the focus of all lessons was on the indoctrination of students in the ideology of the communist regime. Dhondup’s family eventually found the financial resources to send him to a Tibetan Middle School where he could learn in the Tibetan language, study the Tibetan religion (Buddhism) and learn about Tibetan culture.

At the age of seventeen, Dhondup was arrested for his involvement in resisting the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese, and he was sent to prison for 2 years, including 3 months of solitary detention. During his years in prison, the prison medical authorities forcibly and very regularly took large vials of blood from him (and other Tibetan prisoners) to use for the blood transfusions of Chinese soldiers on the borders. This blood-taking, plus the poor nutrition and conditions in the prison, meant that Dhondup was very weak when he was released, and forced to use a wheelchair.

After a year’s recuperation at home, Dhondup was no longer in a wheelchair and he realised that there was no future for him in occupied Tibet, so he escaped. He walked for 24 days before he eventually reached Nepal where he registered with the UN under the UN Charter. There he learnt that, under the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader in exile, he could complete his schooling, which he did in the humanity arts steam. After this he went to the University of Delhi in India where he graduated with Political Science Honours in 2014.

When he had completed his studies, Dhondup submitted an application for a humanitarian visa application (established for people who are legally ‘stateless’) to migrate to Australia, a process that was established through a collaboration between the Central Tibetan Administration and Australian Immigration. His application was successful and in February 2015 he arrived in Sydney and he was granted a permanent residency visa to live in Australia. He studied ‘English for Academic studies’ at the Ultimo TAFE College and then completed a Certificate IV to become a Lab Technician in a Pathology Lab.

In 2017 Dhondup saw a job advert for the position of ‘Tibetan Settlement Worker’ for the Community Northern Beaches. He had previously done a lot of work as a volunteer in NGO’s and had been a high school prefect and the President of the Students Union at University. He had also been an executive member of the Tibetan Youth Congress in Delhi and President of the Student Human Rights association in secondary school, all of which demonstrated his excellent leadership skills. Dhondup applied for and was given this position, working, 22 hours a week helping other Tibetans settle into Australia. He moved to a flat in Dee Why (where he lives with another Tibetan). On weekends he works in Customer Service in Woolworths to earn extra money.

Dhondup hasn’t seen his family since he was 17 and really misses his mother in particular. They are not able to get passports to leave Tibet and it would be impossible for him to get a visa to visit them.

Dhondup eating.jpg

Despite this sadness and despite the hardships of living as a new migrant, Dhondup says that he loves living here in Australia where Human Rights are protected and freedom of speech and expression is preserved. He says he loves being able to think, speak and do whatever he chooses, and he loves the fact that there are so many opportunities available to him. He also appreciates that the Australian government supports the preservation of Tibetan culture and the identity of Buddhists which focuses on compassion, harmony, living peacefully and putting others before self. He sees this Buddhist philosophy as the greatest contribution that Tibetan Buddhists can make to Australian society.

Ready for Life, Ready for Success!


One of our partners at Community Northern Beaches is ‘Relationships Australia’, an organisation which co-ordinates a ‘whole school’ intervention called ‘Ready for Life, Ready for Success’. This program runs in both primary and high schools and works with students, staff, parents and administrators to raise awareness of students’ psychological well-being, and the importance of strengthening self-esteem, resilience and self-efficacy.


Lyndsay, one of our Family and Child Workers regularly facilitates on this program and was recently part of the facilitation team delivering a full day program of group workshops with approximately 200 Year 5 and 6 school students, assisting them with the development of social and emotional awareness. The facilitators worked with groups of 10 students each and worked on collaborative, creative and hands on exercises to explore how students were feeling about and dealing with fundamental challenges in their lives. In the last training workshop a common struggle for many of the students was a feeling of being overwhelmed and exhausted by the academic, musical and/or sporting ambitions that their parents had for them.

Feedback from the schools has been very positive so far, and so Relationships Australia is expanding these workshops to more schools, and to include more year groups. It is critical to customise the various programs to suit the needs of particular ages and communities, and Lyndsay will continue to work with Relationships Australia to help reach more schools and to promote the important of psychological well-being and care in students.

Volunteer Spotlight: Chrissie

The existence of Community Northern Beaches, and it’s ability to help so many people in the Manly area, is no small task. The organisation is the product of many individuals working together with one common goal, to give a helping hand to those in need.

Over the next few weeks we want to introduce you to some of the friendly faces you can find within Community Northern Beaches, and give you an insight into what they do, and how you can get involved too.


Chrissie has volunteered with CNB for the last three years, spending a day or two a week working on the front desk.

‘It’s a nice place to be, really, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a client, a volunteer, or a staff member… it’s a real sense of community.’

Social isolation can be a large factor in many individuals lives, so having friendly volunteers like Chrissie in the centre always up for a chat are great ways to increase interactions and offer support for many individuals, even just with a cup of tea.

‘Just to give them as much comfort, or peace of mind, or security I suppose, to let them know they’re in a safe place. That’s really all we can do.’

Chrissie is one of twenty volunteers who works in reception of CNB. These ladies are the first faces many clients see when they walk through the door, and all play a large role in creating a welcoming atmosphere.

‘As I get to know the different people who tend to come in here, It makes me realise that there are a couple of situations in my life, that makes me think…it could so easily happen to anybody. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, or where you come from, anyone can easily get themselves into a very vulnerable situation. It could easily happen to anybody.’

Chrissie, now retired, says she first decided to volunteer due to her desire to give back to the manly community.

‘It makes me feel good, and I hope it makes them feel good too.’


If you want to know how you can get involved in volunteering for Community Northern Beaches, please visit our website:

Or fill out an enquiry form:

‘Love Bites’ Program

‘Love Bites’ is a Respectful Relationships program designed by NAPCAN (National Association for the prevention of child abuse and neglect) specifically for young people aged 15-17 years.

The program began on the Mid North Coast of NSW in 2003 in response to concerns by teachers at a local high school that their young students appeared to be becoming involved in abusive and unhealthy relationships. Since then ‘Love Bites’ has reached many young people across Australia, and on the Central Coast and in South Sydney it is run in most high schools for Years 9 or 10 students.

The program focuses on Relationships, Love and Control and has modules such as:

– Gender expectations and relationships

– Responding to jealous feelings

– Love and control

– Warning signs of a controlling/abusive relationship

– Supporting friends

– Seeking help

– Breaking up with respect

– Sexual Assault/Consent/Active By Standing

Some of our Community Northern Beaches staff members-Daniel, Anona and Jan attended the Love Bites facilitators training program recently and are now ready to take the program into high schools across the northern Beaches. Watch this space

Daniel Peterson, Anona Le Page and Jan Schatz attended Love Bites training in preparation to facilitate the program for year 10 students in high schools on the Northern Beaches.

Daniel Peterson, Anona Le Page and Jan Schatz attended Love Bites training in preparation to facilitate the program for year 10 students in high schools on the Northern Beaches.

Mandy and Dolkar- Tibetan Refugee Mentoring Program

Dolkar and Mandy at the initiation ceremony.jpg

Mandy Roberts and Dolkar Lhatso are two women from very different corners of the globe. Mandy was born in Sydney, Australia and Dolkar was born in a rural village in North-East Tibet. Today, both women live in Sydney’s northern beaches and have developed a very special bond through the Tibetan Refugee Mentoring program.

Running for 8 years, this program involves volunteers undertaking a 6 week TAFE course and extensive screening program before being matched with a Tibetan refugee who has recently arrived in Australia. Mandy Roberts, from Clontarf, undertook the course in 2015 after reading about it in the Manly Daily. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to arrive in a new country with no family or friends” she says, “I thought it sounded like something genuinely worthwhile and a way we could give back as a family.”

After 6 weeks Mandy was matched with Dolkar and her family- including her husband, Jimpa, and two young children, Rangdol and Saldon who had all recently arrived in Australia on Humanitarian visas.

Saldon in Easter hat parade.jpg

“In the beginning my main role was to help Dolkar find her feet in Australia and settle into her new life here,” says Mandy. “We can forget how simple tasks such as enrolling her children in school, paying electricity bills and reading food labels can be so hard for someone who speaks little or no English.”

After two years in the program, Dolkar and Mandy have become very close. Their families share Christmas BBQ’s and Mandy’s family watched Saldon and Rangdol in their primary school Easter hat parade.

“I also do things like help her sort through and read her mail, apply for jobs and take her and her children to appointments in the city. The children love spending time with my two daughters so we also spend time at Dee Why beach.”

India, Saldon and Rangdol.jpg

Whilst Dee Why’s Tibetan refugee community is an incredible source of community and culture for recently migrated families, the mentoring program offers another form of support and can help these individuals feel welcomed and integrated into society.

Dolkar and Mandy.jpg

“Dolkar makes incredible Tibetan food for us whenever we visit, her Mo Mo’s are delicious. They are a beautiful family, I learn just as much from Dolkar and her family as they do from us. “

Supported Playgroup- Haasan’s 1st Birthday!

On the Northern Beaches we are lucky enough to be surrounded by so many different cultures of people, from all corners of the globe. Some have lived here their whole lives, and others have only recently arrived. At Community Northern Beaches we love welcoming new residents and focus on making their transition as easy as possible, like Haasan and his family who recently celebrated his 1st Birthday here in Australia.



A program that assists with this, is our supported playgroup that takes place at Brookvale Community Centre every Thursday. One of our families recently celebrated their son Haasun’s 1st birthday, as well as a cultural blessing that Lyndsay, our family and child worker, was lucky enough to attend.


One year-old Haasun has recently arrived to the Northern Beaches with his mother Priya, and Father Nanda from India. The supported playgroup has helped them meet new friends in the area, and offers guidance and care to help them settle in to the community.