CDU lecturer celebrates 30 years of helping Darwin migrants 


Every day migrant and refugee students from countries around the world come to Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) building 18 to study English and learn about the Australian culture.

Every morning during semester, corridors of the building are alive with the colourful dress and the sounds of exotic languages from countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Thailand and Burma.

CDU’s Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) has been helping students enjoy the benefits of learning English and making the transition to a new country as smooth as possible since the early 1970s.

Thematic team leader and lecturer Jill Kaye, who is celebrating 30 years service with AMEP, said her love for teaching English to migrants was as strong as ever.

“Every day we have at least 100 to 120 students attending English classes as our Casuarina campus alone,” she said.

“I respect and admire our students, some of whom have never been able to attend any school at all, and many who have spent up to 20 years in a refugee camp.

“Can you imagine being forced to leave your home and country and trying to learn a language such as Chinese? This is the situation faced by many of our students.”

Jill came to Darwin in June 1977 and soon after registered as a volunteer tutor with the AMEP. In September 1977 she was offered a job teaching Greek and Italian students as well as refugees from East Timor and Cambodia at an AMEP community class held at Nightcliff pre-school.

She has taught AMEP students at venues around Darwin including Casuarina library, Casuarina Square, and Casuarina Plaza, and estimates that she has taught almost 1000 migrants and refugees from at least 60 different countries.

“I still love coming to work every day knowing that I’m helping students in a very real way.

“This has allowed me to keep my enthusiasm and energy for what I do,” she said.

If you would like to help migrant and refugee students in Darwin, AMEP is looking for volunteers for conversation groups from 9am to 12noon on weekdays or assistance for students at home who can’t attend classes.

If you have a free hour or two a week, ring 8946 6578 to register your interest - you won’t regret it!