Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre Championed by Ukrainian Refugee

By Gemma Grant

A language school in Carlton North has been praised by a Ukrainian refugee, after it helped him secure employment following his displacement to Australia.

Denys, along with wife Veronika and son Artem, lived in Kharkiv – only 50 kilometres from the Russian border. In early 2022, they were forced to seek refuge after Russia’s invasion became full-scale.

“We were taken to the very centre of Melbourne, where housing and everything we needed to start life were already waiting for us… this helped us a lot, as we only had one suitcase with us and I only had the clothes I had flown to Melbourne in,” Denys said.

It was during the refugee’s job search that he came across the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre. He was impressed by the “excellent English language school,” and said its lessons allowed him to improve his English to a professional level.

“The teachers at this school are golden, they are sympathetic to all the problems of their students… [it] is one of those places in Australia that left a good memory in my heart,” Denys said.

Even with the help of the centre, finding employment was difficult. The Ukrainian responded to over 800 job listings – only receiving a handful of interviews. Visa issues were often cited as the reasons behind rejection.

“I still have a letter from one of the largest companies where they refuse to employ me despite passing the tests, due to the fact that my family has a temporary visa,” Denys said.

After a year and a half of searching, Denys successfully found a job. He has enjoyed the new challenge, and is grateful for the opportunity he has been given.

“I have been working in this company for 4 months, I am learning a new profession and making progress. I am also happy to work in a wonderful team and a company where I am appreciated,” he said.

When it comes to what other people should prioritise when settling in Australia, English lessons were at the top of Denys’ list.

“The advice I can give… is to improve your level of English, because of course, without it, you will not be able to successfully pass the interview.”

“Don’t give up, try, try and try again… employers are [people just like us] and often, they are ready to train you even from scratch, if you are ready to learn,” he said.

Above all, the Ukrainian is excited to live peacefully with his family in their new Melbourne community.

“Australia is a country of kindness, a country of opportunity, a country ready to help in difficult times. My family and I are very grateful for the opportunity to be in Australia.”

May be an image of 3 people, polaroid and aircraft

Supporting Our Community: CNLC’s Food Relief Efforts

At Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre (CNLC), we are deeply committed to supporting our community, especially those in crisis. Over the past 12 months, CNLC has run several free pop-up markets providing food relief, toothpaste, sanitary pads, and other essential products to hundreds of people in need in the Carlton community.

One of our key initiatives is the Food Relief Market, which has become a lifeline for many. These markets not only provide access to nutritious food but also essential non-food items that are often overlooked. Our goal is to ensure that everyone in our community has access to the necessities they need to lead a healthy and dignified life. In the past 12 months, we have provided free food relief to more than 600 people.

In addition to the markets, we host a Free Community Lunch every Thursday at CNLC. This weekly event is more than just a meal; it’s an opportunity for people to connect, share stories, and build a sense of community. Our lunches are specially catered for people with disabilities and those in need, with delicious meals prepared by our amazing cook, Fozia. These gatherings are a special time for social connection, where attendees can enjoy a warm meal, engage in conversation, and even participate in activities like footy tipping! Over the past year, we have provided more than 400 community lunch meals.

We also collaborate with the Church of All Nations to offer a free community lunch once a month on Wednesdays. This partnership allows us to reach even more people and provide consistent support throughout the month. The collaboration highlights the strength of community partnerships in addressing food insecurity and supporting those in need.

We are thrilled to share that as a result of sustained advocacy efforts, $2.5 million in food relief funding for Neighbourhood Houses was announced in the Victorian state budget. Neighbourhood Houses and community centres across the state have been meeting local MPs, engaging local media, and organising in their communities to stress the urgent need to fund the growing cost burden of food.

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria Media Release:

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria has actively supported this local advocacy and highlighted this issue on ABC Radio (metro and regional), the Weekly Times, Channel Nine news, and various other local media.

We understand the $2.5 million will form a pool dedicated to Neighbourhood Houses through an open grants process. We will confirm when we have further detail on timing and access provisions.

We sincerely thank Minister Ros Spence for supporting our submission through the budget process and to the Allan Government for this funding uplift.

While we would all rather our communities didn’t need food relief, the reality is that the rising cost of unfunded food relief is threatening the sustainability of many Neighbourhood Houses.

By contributing to previously unfunded food relief efforts, these additional grants will improve the long-term viability of the sector.

At CNLC, we believe in the power of community and the importance of coming together to support one another. Our food relief initiatives are a testament to this belief, and we are committed to continuing this vital work. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that no one in our community goes without the essentials they need.

Stay tuned for more updates on our food relief efforts and how you can get involved. Whether it’s volunteering your time, donating essential items, or simply spreading the word, your support makes all the difference.

Thank you for being a part of our community and for helping us make Carlton a place where everyone can thrive.

Incorporating lived experience into student placement

Guest Blog – Penelope Smith, Victoria University (VU)

Victoria University (VU) prides itself as one of the most culturally diverse universities in Australia. Our Masters of Global Public Health attracts a diverse cohort, with a high number of students from migrant, and refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

Within our degree we have capstone units. Some of you may know it as placement or practicum. A capstone unit is one where the knowledge gained through the academic studies is put into practice in the real-world environment. For us this is a Professional Project: a discrete piece of work to be undertaken in 150 hours at one of our Industry Partners.

Tony Milne, Executive Officer of CNLC, and I have a long working relationship. As a public health professional with a long history of work in advocacy and activism, Tony was often my ‘go to’, to enrich the learnings of my Public Health higher education students (both undergraduate and postgraduate). He has provided graduate addresses, guest lectures, curriculum content (detailed here) and now, while at CNLC, an opportunity for one of our students to complete their Professional Project.

I have been involved in Public Health education and capstone units for over 15 years. In the last year while starting my PhD at University of Tasmania, examining the lived experience of overseas trained health practitioners of colour working in the Australian health system, I have felt challenged on how we authentically design and ethically support all our students undertaking their capstone unit.

Due to a strong long-term working relationship with Tony built on trust and mutual values, we saw an opportunity for an exciting and innovative Professional Project for one of our students, Jebbeh Manubah, at CNLC. This opportunity enabled Jebbeh to use her lived experience, as a refugee who travelled to Australia, in a powerful way.

Our central goal was for Jebbeh to provide insights and advice on how CNCL could incorporate lived experience as a strength within the CNCL workplace policy. Using Public Health Knowledge, the support from an innovative Learning Designer Nick Lekakis, and critical reflection on our ways of working, we supported Jebbeh to do just that – with incredible outcomes for all.

Recently, I was able to present on this piece of work at the CAPHIA Teaching and Learning forum on Kaurna Country (Adelaide) and the VU Teaching and Learning forum on Naarm (Melbourne). The response to the work has been positive, with excellent discussions particularly at CAPHIA about how we can begin scaffolding early in our public health degrees to support students to use their lived experience in a powerful way in their capstone unit and following that in their professional work.

We have seen from other professions, such as drug and alcohol services, the rise in recognition of lived experience in the workplace. This has resulted in a significant increase of people who can join the workforce. While this work is contested and unfinished, it does challenge us more broadly in Public Health to how we consider lived experience as powerful in the workplace.

Community, Collaboration, and Climate Action: YNHN’s Climate Resilience & Action Plan Launch

In a spirited gathering at the Womin Je Ka Room, Studio One Community Room, Richmond, the Yarra Neighbourhood House Network (YNHN) proudly launched its Climate Action and Resilience Plan on 10th October. 

The launch was not merely an event but a celebration of collective efforts and a shared vision for a sustainable future. Uncle Tony Garvey offered a poignant Welcome to Country, grounding the event in respect and acknowledgment of the traditional custodians of the land. The Deputy Mayor, Edward Crossland, illuminated the path that YNHN has embarked upon, aligning with Yarra Council’s Climate Emergency Plan. Students learning English as an Additional Language grounded the conversation by presenting their video about what they’ve been learning this year about sustainability and climate change.

Jane Tonkin, CEO of the Fitzroy Learning Network, provided examples of how each house is taking climate action. 

The Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre (CNLC) is on track to save 36,000kg of waste from landfill this year through its compost hub, involving 700 residents and a dedicated staff member who collects food waste from local establishments. North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House has been a champion of repair and reuse, saving 43kg of items from landfill through repair workshops and community garage sales.

Alphington Community Centre has leveraged additional state funding to enhance their kitchen, expanding their ability to prepare and store community meals. Belgium Avenue Neighbourhood House is making strides towards sustainability by transitioning to almost gas-free operations and, along with Collingwood Neighbourhood House, is providing vital climate resilience information at community markets while exploring food rescue opportunities.

Richmond Community Learning Centre’s Repair Corner has been a hub for sustainability, saving 60kg of items from landfill last month and encouraging local residents to utilise compost bins at Burnley Backyard. Sustainability Victoria has backed the initiation of the Railway Repair and Maintenance workshops at Alphington Community Centre, enabling locals to repair and maintain items like sewing machines, lamps, and bikes.

Finbar Neighbourhood House operates a community compost and recycling station, an E-waste drop-off depot, and collects rainwater to nourish their gardens. Holden Street Neighbourhood House aids community waste reduction through food relief, offering rescued food and garden produce, and facilitates the recycling of various items through the Community Recycling Wall. Fitzroy Learning Network saved $15K worth of new clothes and $5K of second-hand clothes from landfill via their clothing distribution project, provides food relief, and serves as a drop-off point for recycling various items, supported by a resident volunteer recycler.

Tony Milne, Executive Officer of CNLC, shared a heartwarming story of the creation of a new frog bog at CNLC, symbolising the essence of community collaboration and enhancing urban biodiversity. His words painted a vivid picture of the plan, which was crafted through a series of workshops and is divided into six sections, focusing on the sustainability and resilience of each Neighbourhood House and the community. The plan is not just a document but a commitment, a promise towards building a future where the community is an active participant in climate action.

The plan, while ambitious, is a reflection of the urgency of the climate emergency. It addresses a myriad of aspects from supporting at-risk communities and government planning to democratic processes and infrastructure upgrades. Tony illustrated the criticality of the plan by envisaging a potential heatwave scenario, highlighting the pivotal role Neighbourhood Houses play during such extreme weather events and the necessity of fortifying them against disruptions.

Objective 2.1 of the plan underscores the need for infrastructure upgrades to enhance the physical resilience of the houses in the network. However, realising these objectives necessitates resources beyond current capacities. For instance, CNLC’s assessment for becoming a community cooling centre identified the need for substantial physical upgrades, such as double glazing, insulation, and backup power generation, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

But the plan doesn’t stop at responding to the impacts of climate change; it aims to mitigate it. Objectives like developing an ecological and social justice procurement policy, minimizing waste, and providing sustainable living and climate action education are steps towards not just surviving in a changing climate but actively reducing our collective impact on it.

YNHN’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan is a beacon of collective, community-driven action towards a sustainable and resilient future. It calls for collaboration, support, and funding to navigate the ambitious yet crucial path ahead. It is a call to every individual, organization, and government to join hands, write those “huge cheques”, and collaboratively stride towards a future where our actions today safeguard the generations of tomorrow.

Learn AMEP Melbourne: How Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre’s English Language Courses Provide Great Learning Experiences for Migrants and Refugees

At Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre (CNLC), we believe that everyone deserves access to high-quality education and supportive teachers. That’s why we offer a range of English language courses, (including learning AMEP) designed to meet the needs of migrants and refugees. In this blog post, we’re sharing how our supportive teachers and focus on great learning experiences make CNLC the ideal place to learn English.

  1. Supportive Teachers: At CNLC, we understand that learning English can be challenging, especially for migrants and refugees who are adapting to a new culture and language. That’s why our teachers are dedicated to providing a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome and supported. Our teachers are experienced in working with students from diverse backgrounds and are committed to helping you achieve your goals.
  2. Great Learning Experiences: At CNLC, we believe learning should be engaging, fun, and informative. That’s why we offer a range of English language courses designed to be both practical and enjoyable. From group classes to one-on-one tutoring, we offer a variety of learning experiences that cater to different learning styles and interests. Our classes are also designed to be interactive and to encourage participation and discussion.
  3. Focus on Migrants and Refugees: At CNLC, we specialise in providing English language courses for migrants and refugees. Our courses are designed to meet the unique needs of these populations and to help them adapt to their new home. We also provide wrap-around services, such as mentoring and career coaching, to support our students on their pathway to success.
  4. Inclusive Environment: At CNLC, we believe that everyone should have access to education and be treated with respect and dignity. We’re committed to creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and supported. Our Centre is a safe and welcoming space for all, regardless of your background or experience.

At Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre, we’re committed to providing high-quality English language courses that are both supportive and engaging. Our experienced teachers and focus on great learning experiences make us the ideal place to learn English for migrants and refugees. Visit our website to learn more about our courses and to start your journey to success today.

CNLC acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government and the Federal Government’s Department of Home Affairs.

Carlton Voice Referendum Conversations

The Voice to Parliament Referendum is a really important decision for the people of Australia and CNLC wants to provide a forum to talk about it in a friendly and welcoming environment.

On Thursday 31 August 6-8pm and Thursday 7 September 6-8pm we will hold Carlton Voice Referendum Conversations at 20 Princes Street, North Carlton. We ask people to join both sessions and to RSVP for catering purposes.

You can book online here:

It doesn’t matter if you are uncertain how to vote, everyone is welcome to their opinion. Meet at the CNLC fire circle to share some food and explore the native bushfood garden. We will then break into groups to go through a constructive and respectful conversation about the Voice and what enshrining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament could do for Australia.

Please join us.

Garden Drawing Workshops at CNLC

CNLC has partnered with illustrator Angharad Neal-Williams for a series of free workshops in the gardens at Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre.

The workshops will foster a supportive environment where everyone is encouraged to draw and create with confidence.  The primary audience is young people (15-24), but there is some flexibility if people over 24 want to be part of the workshops.

People can now book into the workshops through try booking, please see the links below: 

Workshop one –

Workshop two –

Workshop three –

Top 6 Basics to Learning English in Melbourne with Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre

Learning English is a process that takes time and effort, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. There are some basics to learning English that can help make the process easier and more effective. In this blog post, we’re sharing our top six basics to learning English in Melbourne, with a focus on how Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre can help.

  1. Enrol in English Language Courses: The first step to learning English is to enrol in English language courses at a reputable language school like Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre. Our courses are designed to meet the unique needs of migrants and refugees and are taught by experienced teachers who provide a supportive and inclusive learning environment. Enrol here:
  2. Build Your Vocabulary: Building your vocabulary is essential for learning English. Make a habit of learning new words and phrases every day, and practice using them in context. This will help you improve your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
  3. Practice Your Pronunciation: Pronunciation is important for clear communication in English. Practice your pronunciation regularly by listening to native speakers, repeating words and phrases, and recording yourself to hear how you sound.
  4. Improve Your Grammar: Grammar is the foundation of the English language. Focus on improving your grammar by studying grammar rules and practicing your grammar skills through reading, writing, and speaking.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice: Consistent practice is key to learning English. Practice your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills every day, and seek out opportunities to use English in real-life situations. Joining an English language conversation group or finding a language partner can be helpful.
  6. Immerse Yourself in English Language Content: Immersing yourself in English language content can help improve your language skills. Watch English language movies and TV shows, listen to English language music and podcasts, and read English language books and news articles. This will help you develop your listening and reading comprehension skills.

Learning English is a journey, and with the right strategies and support, you can achieve your goals. Enroling at Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre is the first step towards improving your English language skills in Melbourne. By building your vocabulary, practicing your pronunciation, improving your grammar, consistent practice, immersing yourself in English language content, and seeking support from our experienced teachers, you’ll be well on your way to success.

CNLC acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

CNLC supports the Voice to Parliament

Later this year, the Australian people will vote in a referendum on enshrining in the Constitution of Australia an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament and Government. 

The Voice to Parliament represents the first step towards realising the full Uluru Statement from the Heart and will be a significant milestone in Australia’s long history, which started 60,000 years ago. 

Social justice is at the heart of CNLCs mission and purpose and for many years we have worked to remove the barriers that people face in living prosperous lives. Neighbourhood houses have always believed that everyone has a right to be heard and that people flourish when they have the resources and autonomy to reach their full potential. 

That’s why we’re supporting the ‘Yes’ position in the referendum. In doing so, CNLC is accepting the invitation embedded in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people for a better future, so they can have a say on policies and laws that directly affect their communities.

CNLC is proud of our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and proud to support the Voice to Parliament. We encourage all people to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the journey to voice, treaty and truth. 

Tony R. Milne
Executive Officer

More information is available at: – an excellent resource from the Government Indigenous agency  this is a short course you can do – about 20- minutes of listening and thinking about The Voice and why it matters – an excellent place to begin your journey  – excellent resources and background material

Professor Megan Davis as she reads  The Uluru Statement from the Heart

People can enrol to vote at:

Learning English 101: What I Wish I Knew When I Started

Learning English can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re a migrant, refugee, or simply looking to improve your language skills, there are some tips and strategies that can help make the process easier and more effective. In this blog post, we’re sharing what we wish we knew when we started learning English.

  1. Focus on Vocabulary: Vocabulary is the foundation of the English language. Focus on building your vocabulary by learning new words and phrases every day. Make a habit of practicing using them in context to improve your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
  2. Learn the Grammar Basics: Grammar is essential to communicating effectively in English. Learn the basics of English grammar and practice using them through reading, writing, and speaking.
  3. Speak with Confidence: Don’t be afraid to speak English, even if you make mistakes. Speaking with confidence will help you build your fluency and improve your pronunciation. Practice speaking with your classmates, with a language partner, or with native speakers.
  4. Listen and Watch English Content: Listening to and watching English language content can help you improve your comprehension and speaking skills. Watch English language movies and TV shows, listen to English language music and podcasts, and participate in English language conversation groups.
  5. Read and Write in English: Reading and writing in English can help you improve your grammar and vocabulary skills. Practice writing short essays, journal entries, or emails in English, and read English language books, news articles, and blogs.
  6. Find a Support System: Learning English can be challenging, but having a support system can make a big difference. Enrol in English language courses at a reputable language school like Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre, and seek out opportunities to practice your language skills with other English language learners and native speakers. You can enrol here:

Learning English is a process that takes time and effort, but with the right strategies and support, you can achieve your goals. By focusing on vocabulary, learning the grammar basics, speaking with confidence, listening and watching English content, reading and writing in English, and finding a support system, you’ll be well on your way to success.

CNLC acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.