Humans of RMIT: Cara Denise Tizon

Cara Denise Tizon, Master of Social Work, RMIT

I am currently completing my final year of the Master of Social Work at RMIT. I also have a Bachelor of Economics and a Masters in Family Life and Child Development, both of which I studied in the Philippines.

Before moving to Australia to study, I lived and worked in Kenya as an Outreach and Communications Officer with the UN Environment Programme.

I really enjoyed the work… It involved working a lot with government and other partnerships. But I was interested in doing something that was more grassroots, working with smaller organisations and working directly with communities.

At the moment, as part of the course, I am undertaking an internship with Afri-Aus Care, which provides support services to migrant people from African and other CALD backgrounds.

Because of the current restrictions that are in place, I am doing the internship remotely, which has been quite challenging at times, especially when dealing with clients for community consultations. Often these are with older African Austrlaians who are  not familiar with technology. So, it can be challenging.

Myself and seven other RMIT students are currently working with Afri-Aus Care. We were originally going to be undertaking a project to help develop a support group for young people, but we soon realised that in fact the peer support program had already developed organically. So our work changed a bit to become more about documenting the African Australian experience, including the challenges they face and the services that work best for them. This involves a lot of interviews and community consultation with clients and community members.

I also do case management and am involved in supporting clients directly with referrals and helping with funding packages and so forth.

I think the fact that the internship is a remote placement and that our initial project has gone through several  changes has really helped me to become more flexible and adaptable and resourceful. And I think COVID and the unpredictability of this time has really highlighted how important it is that we can adapt and adjust, along with the needs of the people we are working with.

That is definitely an important skill that I have developed through my partnership with Afri-Aus Care, as well cementing my desire to combine both working directly with community members, as well as the policies that affect them, through advocacy work and the like. The internship has been invaluable in so many ways.