Volunteering paves the way to a better future

  • 16 January 2023

As an active resident within her local community, Virginia Pitts is a name that many people in Mandurah will have heard. She is the President of Peel Multicultural Association and strives to help migrant members settle successfully in the city, by providing health, educational and cultural support.

She is driven to do this based on her own challenging experience of making Australia her home.

“When I came to Australia in 2005, I didn’t know anyone. Because my education is not recognised here, I couldn’t find work, so what money my husband and I had went down the drain because we had kids and we had bills to pay. I had a breakdown, but I started volunteering because I wanted to do something for the community and make connections with different people. I am very passionate because I don’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through. I had to find my own way.”

Woman posing behind photo border for Harmony Week

Today, Virginia and fellow volunteers have helped more than 100 migrants by providing free courses to gain certificates, learn how to write a CV and increase their employment potential. She was also employed by Hepatitis WA to provide free vaccines and education sessions in regional areas. Furthermore, she encourages members to share food and stories together, to create meaningful relationships.

Virginia is enthusiastic about the increased opportunities now available to migrants and encourages her members to “go for every opportunity” based on her own experience, which has led to a role with Multicultural Services WA.

“I waited for my job for a very long time, but I told myself I had to volunteer because one day someone will give me an opportunity, which they did. So, if I heard about a free workshop or training, I signed up for it. There are organisations now giving opportunities to migrants, which is good. But, before you can be given an opportunity, you have to start with yourself. Learn from my experience.”

Group of people posing with workshop booklet

Virginia is testament to how working hard can pay off, and as a result, has been invited to speak at organisations and colleges around WA to inspire others with her journey. In 2021, her impact was recognised further in the Community Citizen of the Year Awards and she was then invited to be an advocate for the Awards for the 2023 nominations campaign (you may have spotted her starring in the TV commercials on Channel 9!).

“I am so proud that I became a Community Citizen of the Year. It was a great feeling. I couldn’t sleep! I’ve been here for so long, doing volunteer work and I work very hard. I gave my heart and soul for the Peel Multicultural Association. It wasn’t only for me – it’s for the members. I wanted to inspire my community that you can do something and be recognised for what you’re doing. I want to empower them.”

The 2023 Community Citizen of the Year Awards will be announced in councils across WA on Australia Day. This year, the Peel Multicultural Association is up for the Active Citizenship (Group or Event) Award in City of Mandurah. To find out where award ceremonies are taking place and how you can attend, click here.

Back to news