Rafaela is a generous and clever historian and social live and invest townsville. She started working as a volunteer in the late 1970s and has not stopped since then. She has also worked for the Boy Scouts, the first Women’s refugee in Victoria and the Spanish Latin American Welfare Centre.

Helped establish the Foundation House, an organisation committed to supporting refugees who have experienced torture and trauma. Advocate for an increase in support services for refugees beginning a new life in Australia. I arrived in Australia with my parents and 5 siblings in March 1963. My father made the decision to come here given the economic and political situation in Spain at the time. My first few years in this country were very difficult.

There were no special English classes for recently arrived migrants so I was simply placed in the classroom. I eventually returned to study and completed a B. These studies opened up new areas of work and even helped me land roles in the honorary consulates of Venezuela and Spain. From the mid 1970’s there was large scale immigration from Latin America, mainly refugees from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and El Salvador.

I was aware of its creation, but at the time I was enjoying the birth of my first child. I joined CELAS in 1983 when my second child was 3 years old. At that time I was the president and we decided to set-up a community support group aimed at helping refugees who have had traumatic experiences settling in Australia. I have done a whole lot of other work.

I have worked in International Education, in Allied Health, Aged Care Programs and social research in general. Australia was a very different world in the 1960s, there was a demand for assimilation, not just integration. This was a very difficult challenge for all migrants as your culture was not respected. Even though it was not my decision to come to Australia, and despite my first 8 years in this country were very difficult, now I am very glad that I live here.

I am glad I turned my childhood negative experiences into a strong sense of solidarity which has driven me to assist recent arrivals and refugees, to settle successfully in Melbourne. I grew-up in Getafe, a small town 13 kms south of Madrid. The changes that were introduced in the 1970s in this country, such as the end of the White Australia Policy, the embracing of Multiculturalism and the Non-discrimination policies and legislation have created a society that ensures that these values are practiced and maintained. There is no such a thing as a perfect society, so no matter in what country you find yourself, if you experience or see an injustice don’t look the other way. There is so much you can contribute in whatever area you choose. Get out of your comfort zone and offer a hand to someone who needs it or make a stand. She hopes to be able to contribute to the establishment of Residential Facilities for Older Victorians of Spanish-speaking background as she believes we are an ageing community and we need to respond to this growing need.

Frank Torres is a successful Colombian Chef, barista and entrepreneur. He was the pioneer of Colombian food in Melbourne. Maribyrnong where he tries to inspire people to have a healthier diet while being conscious about the source of their food. Raised awareness of Latin American cuisine by opening the first Colombian restaurant. Changed the stereotypes of a country stigmatized by the drug problem by showing that Colombia is not just about drugs. Being recognized for volunteering at one of Victoria’s darkest days at the 2009 black Saturday bush fires by cooking for thousands of fireman and volunteers. Started a free barista course out of Salt Water Community Centre and children cooking lessons at the Tarneit community Centre.

My mum was worried about my future as a young man growing in Colombia as rumors of young people getting involved in the drug trade at a very young age were becoming quite frequent. This was enough reason for her to sell everything and take us to Australia for a better future. My brother Carlos and his wife Magdalena were already in Australia so they sponsored us. My boss back-then Ian Vizcay-Willson decided to move to Queensland and placed his restaurant for sale for six months or otherwise close it. It was here where also my Television experience began. After being interviewed by channel’s 31 show FUSION LATINA I was offered the opportunity to do a short cooking segment to which eventually I became the resident chef for the program. After closing the doors of my beloved restaurant I continued with the brand of El Dorado as a catering company and mobile coffee baristas specializing in corporate jobs.

We have catered at Latin American celebrity concerts such as Aterciopelados, Fonseca, Willi Colon, and Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Learning a new language was not easy but I adapted quite well. As a young immigrant arriving at the age of 15 it was actually very exciting and I had the support from my brother Carlos, so after a few lessons at the local language centre I was thrown strait into high school. I was fine after the first year but it was the food that I missed the most. As a young adult at 24, learning the ropes of how to run a business it was a real challenge. I had no idea about Australian legalities and responsibilities with the tax department, etc. I never did any business courses so a lot of my learning was through trial and error.