The rural Victorian border town of Mildura is a world away from Kunnika Powell’s previous home in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city.

Image of Kunnika Powell.

Kunnika Powell works as a pastoral care worker at the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Community Council.

“Bangkok is a big city with traffic jams and pollution,” Kunnika says. “Mildura is the opposite. Here it is quiet, and we have the river. It’s lovely.”

But Kunnika’s move to Australia in July 2019 wasn’t smooth sailing. Despite her experience working in human resources in Bangkok, Kunnika had trouble finding a job. The global pandemic made it harder.

Then Kunnika contacted Mildura City Council, a Jobs Victoria Partner. She secured a job as an outreach worker with the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Community Council, a perfect fit for her personable nature and ability to speak Thai, Cambodian and Lao.

Jobs Victoria supports people looking for work and connects employers with the staff they need. Jobs Victoria Partners work in communities across the state, delivering face-to-face employment services where they are needed most.

“I would go and see people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and give information about COVID-19,” Kunnika says.

“I helped them to feel informed and that we care about what they need, like making an appointment with a doctor or helping them to contact Medicare or Centrelink.”

She played a valuable role during an uncertain time for many in the community.

Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Community Council program manager Joelle Brown says before Kunnika started, the council had little to do with the local Thai community.

“Kunnika has opened the door to this community and allowed us to provide additional support and services to a group who would have otherwise been overlooked,” Joelle says.

Educating and informing the community about COVID-19 has helped more than 5000 people since February last year, and the support is ongoing.

Kunnika now works as a pastoral care worker with the organisation, supporting farm and factory workers from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The role suits her perfectly. She enjoys being out in the community and speaking with people who need help.

“Every day, I talk, talk, talk,” she says. “I love this job because I can help people. It is not only Thai people but also migrants or refugees or anyone needing help. The Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Community Council is very helpful and supportive. I love this organisation,” she says.

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