On 22 June 2023, ICAV was invited by Relationships Australia ICAFSS to bring together in one place many of our Rappresentanti ICAV and other adoptee leaders in Australia for the first time. Many of us have worked together online over the years, but lacked an opportunity to meet face to face. The purpose was to meet with the national ICAFSS team to build the connections between them as our post adoption service provider and the leaders of the community whom they serve. It also happened to be incredible timing as ICAV celebrates 25 years since its beginnings.
Our first few hours was spent with just the ICAV Australia Rep team and other adoptee leaders in Australia having a short tour of the National Wine Centre followed by a delicious lunch. So nice to be able to hang out together and socialise as a team!
top row, left to right: Hannah Brugman (ACT Rep – Korean), Gabby Malpas (NSW Rep – Chinese), Shaun Seo (KAIAN President – Korean); Linzi Ibrahim (NSW Rep – Sri Lankan), Ryan Gustafsson (AUSKRG co-leader – Korean); Aimee Butler (TAS Rep – Taiwanese, Jonas Désir (Haitian Aust leader based in QLD).
second row left to right: Beti Skehill (VIC Rep – Ethiopian); Hilina Winkenweder (SA Rep – Ethiopian); Meseret Cohen (WA Rep – Ethiopian), Sara Knife (QLD Rep – Ethiopian); Gabbie Beckley (NSW Regional Rep – Sri Lankan), Mallika Macleod (WA Rep – Sri Lankan).
arriving later: Kimberley Lee (NSW Rep)
After lunch we headed back to meet up with the Relationships Australia ICAFSS national team for a heart to heart sharing of our experiences and to learn who they are and where they are located.
ICAFSS then ended that session by kindly presenting ICAV with a cake celebrating 25 years since our beginnings! What a milestone as an adoptee led network!
Following on that evening, ICAV had invited the Adelaide based intercountry adoptees to a social dinner with the ICAV Reps at the Star House, Chinese restaurant. What an incredible evening that was, meeting over 40 fellow intercountry adoptees from 10 different birth countries (China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Sth Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam). For some, it was the first time, for others, it was a re-meeting after so many years of not seeing one another, for others, it was another great catchup! The evening encapsulated the power of getting together and connecting with others just like us! This connection is the cornerstone of ICAVs vision and mission, to ensure we are surrounded and supported by those who validate and mirror our journeys.
Here are some of the photos from our incredible night together:
The last day we got together with Uncle Mickey who talked to us about the connections in Aboriginal and Indigenous experiences of looking for our place of belonging and learning how to reconnect to what is meaningful to us as displaced people.
I spent some time sharing about ICAV and how we work as a community, some of the challenges, some of the positives of being an informal network, how we work to support individual adoptee initiatives and those who want to get involved in a way that they are inspired to do, given we are all volunteers and have busy lives. Then we spent the remainder of the day with social worker Paul Nixon in a circle discussing some of the questions we have as leaders in the community.
Lastly we ended with a session with Nikki Hartmann, Manager of ICAFSS discussing the Small Grants and Bursaries program.
What an incredible 2 days! Huge thanks to Relationships Australia ICAFSS and the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) for funding this event. Huge and special thanks to Kayla Curtis for the organisation, implementation, and support to make this a memorable time together! It’s just wonderful that the Federal Government funding in ICAFSS is being spent in this way to help the leadership in the community connect and be strengthened. Everyone could feel the palpable connection between us and the empowerment that happens when the community of leaders can get together! We hope to see more of this happening in the future in Australia and the ripple on effect it will have to build our community and make our supports stronger and more visible.