Panel 9: Very Special Teachers
Former Enterprise residents remember their English teachers with great fondness. A formal education centre was established in January 1971. Teachers were employed on a casual basis by the Education Department’s Migrant Education Branch but the funding came from the Immigration Department.
For a time the supervisors of the program in each hostel were appointed by the Immigration Department and many had shipboard education experience. In later years the Adult Migrant Education Service managed the education program and appointed teachers-in-charge to each venue. They worked with the administrative staff of the hostel to provide an excellent settlement program.
Many residents made learning English their priority. Day time lessons at Enterprise were supplemented with other courses. Night time classes were provided for those at work during the day. For others, the effects of leaving their home country, the challenges of settling in to a new country or working full time meant that learning English at that time was too difficult. For others leaving the children in other people’s care was culturally difficult.
Initially child care was only provided for working mothers. Once child care became available for parents attending English classes the number of women in these classes increased.
Students were paid a living allowance to attend classes but in the early years it was paid at a lower rate than unemployment benefits. If they missed a class deductions were made from their allowance.
After 1974 the Home Tutor Scheme provided volunteers to teach people on a one to one basis. Tutors were often introduced to their students at Enterprise and usually taught them in their own homes once they had left there.
Teachers helped residents out beyond the classroom and strong friendships were formed. The teachers assisted Salvadorean people by helping them fill out the required documents for Amnesty International and the Red Cross to have their missing relatives names included on tracing lists. Sometimes relatives were found and families were reunited.
In the late 1980s the newly established Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture and Trauma provided training for AMES staff to enable them to better address the special needs of their refugee students.
"The Ethiopeans taught us their coffee making ceremonies." - AMES Teacher
"I attended community courses at night after going to AMES during the day." - You Horn Chea, Cambodia
"I went to morning classes, studied in the afternoon and then went to evening classes." - Edit Martini, Argentina
"I travelled from Enterprise to Coburg to do a 6 months intensive course. I then enrolled in the Phillip Institute’s Ethnic Studies Course and travelled to Coburg. It was so hard for the first year but I realised only education would provide me with a better life." - Seda Douglas, Cambodia
"I’ll never forget them. Such a fun way of learning. They gave so much more than their English teaching. One teacher invited me to her home…..it was a great privilege." - Geraldina Poblete-Alvarez, Chile
"Sometimes students came to class in their nighties not realizing these items were given to them for sleeping only." - AMES Teacher
Top left: The language laboratory.
Top Right: The Springvale Council mobile library which called regularly.
Bottom: An early English class.