Coffee with…Ada Poon, Service Coordinator, Centre for Holistic Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Describe the work that goes on at the Centre for Holistic Health.
The Centre for Holistic Health aims to promote physical and mental wellbeing in the Chinese community through providing preventive and ameliorative services. Over the last two years, the Centre has been piloting two major projects. One of the projects is addressing the mental health of Chinese international students. In this project we have adopted a stepped care model to improve students’ mental health literacy and resilience to cope with stress and negative emotions, and reduce their stigma towards mental illness. The project also enhances peer-to-peer support to encourage formal help seeking through a student ambassador scheme.

Our other project is called “Family in Harmony” which adopts an integrated approach to prevent family violence in the Chinese community in particular migrant families. The project targets different population groups, including the general community, migrant families, community leaders and faith groups. At the general community level we aim to increase understanding and knowledge about different forms of family violence and available supports and services for people experiencing family violence.  At the family level we have a program called “Marital Rock and Roll”, designed for couples to discuss and reflect on their cultural beliefs about gender equality, power and authority in a family, and how these beliefs impact on family dynamics,  relationships and communication. This program is successfully engaging men. In 2019, we are extending our target age to children. We discuss gender equality, respectful relationships and saying “no” to violence starting from a younger age. In order to engage and facilitate discussion and sharing we use puppet shows to deliver the message. For this we develop a puppet team and provide training to our volunteers about family violence and skills to communicate with children. This is a very exciting project and we are looking forward to see the response.

Apart from these two projects, we also have some programs to address the mental wellbeing of older people, such as establishing support groups for older carers, and older people who experiencing grief and loss.

What excites and motivates you in your role?
The founders of the Centre for Holistic Health are very experienced and from diverse backgrounds in the social welfare field. They are proactive, very dynamic and passionate. Their knowledge and vision for the community always inspires and motivates me. I am so glad to have worked together with them since it was established in 2014. Two years ago, I shifted my role from a board member to a service coordinator, and started to try out some innovative projects. The most exciting thing is I can do more clinical practice, in particular in mental health interventions.

What is most challenging about your work?
The Centre is quite new, it is still at the stage of building a foundation. Constraints in resourcing, including funding and human resources, are the biggest challenge to us. The community changes from time to time, and to ensure our services are responsive we need to be more proactive, reach out to the community and listen to the voices from service users.

Does CHH work with volunteers? Can you describe how volunteers are add value to your work?
Yes it does. CHH is young but attracts volunteers who want to contribute back to the community. We have volunteers from diverse backgrounds and different age groups. Many of them are very committed and devoted. They contribute their time to help out our programs: some have specific skills and knowledge to deliver community talks, and others help with advice and contribute their wisdom and experience. We value their input highly. We are also lucky to have some retired teachers, nurses, and counsellors who want to try out something different through volunteering.

What strengths do you see in the Eastern Region Chinese Community?
The Eastern Region attracts young families and many of them are skilled migrants. They are active in the wider community and keen to integrate themselves into the local community. Networks among community services are well established and quite strong. This enhances better and collaborative service delivery.

Where do you recommend in Forest Hill for Coffee/ Lunch/ People Watching?
I usually go for a short walk to relax and refresh myself when I feel a bit tired and stressed out from work. I like to take a short walk at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. It is near my office in Forest Hill and is a place which feels very natural and peaceful.

If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?
It is a magical question. I would like to see no starving in the world. Another impossible dream which has been planted in my mind since I was a little kid, is that I would love to see a rainbow not just happen in the day time but also at night. Haha, a very crazy idea to challenge our creator!

If you weren’t working at CHH right now, what would you be doing?
I want to be a photographer. Everything is on the move. I enjoy capturing special and precious moments for people.

 

 

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

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