Groupwork Centre Blog

Meet Our Community – James Seow

James Seow

I wear many hats in the community development, engagement, cross-cultural leadership, diversity, social inclusion and equity, and LGBTIQA+ empowerment sectors.

I am a Senior Project Officer at Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), and a Research Officer and Group Facilitator at Monash University and Alfred Health. As an Associate Program Director at Common Purpose, I facilitate their leadership and cultural intelligence programs at RMIT and Western Sydney Universities. I have a deep interest in mental health, well-being, and human connections. I facilitate a support group at Mental Health Foundation Australia, and peer education workshops for the LGBTIQA+ community at Thorne Harbour Health. .

The Advanced Diploma of Group Facilitation program I completed at Groupwork Centre has a profound impact on the way I work in and facilitate teams. Much of my work involves promoting intercultural understanding, and overcoming bias, assumptions and prejudice. Intercultural means more than just ethnic or racial differences. It is also about helping people with different (and sometimes opposing) lived experiences, values, beliefs and attitudes listen to and understand one another.

What I try to achieve in the consultations, dialogues and workshops I facilitate is not necessarily getting everyone to think the same. Rather, I endeavour to help members be comfortable with diversity, and curious about why people and their opinions are different. When we embrace diversity, and feel embraced ourselves, we are able to calm our egos — our ideas do not turn into a defence of our identities.

As a member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Regional Advisory Council, City of Port Phillip’s Multicultural and LGBTIQA+ Advisory Committees, Board of Switchboard Victoria, and Victorian Pride Centre’s Community Reference Group, I often provide advice and insights on intersectional communities to these organisations. These may be about migrants, international students, asylum seekers, homeless and unemployed individuals, people living with disability or domestic violence, as well as queer, transgender and intersex people of colour (QTIPOC). Holding the space for empathy, participation and trust to develop amongst members is essential to harnessing the wisdom of the group. It can be challenging sometimes. I can only say I will never stop learning.

In this global climate of alienation, division and polarisation, it is easier to notice the differences instead of similarities between people from diverse backgrounds. As a community, I think we can do better at managing differences. I constantly remind myself to listen deeply, and be patient and brave when negotiating that delicate space between opposing objectives and perspectives. I hope to build more connected and welcoming communities where everyone feels a deep sense of belonging. Only then can we participate and contribute more fully to our communities, our homes.

If you are interested in building empowered multicultural and intersectional communities, and helping people appreciate the fragile humanity that connects all of us, I would love to chat with you. Please contact me on LinkedIn.


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