Welcome to Kerry

This month JAA welcomes Kerry Saloner as our Refugee Support Coordinator in Sydney. Kerry is a social worker with years of experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

190120131327What is your relevant experience & what positions have you held in the past?

I am a social worker with 16 years’ experience in the field. I completed my Masters in the area of HIV/AIDS and spent many years training and supervising lay Counsellors and health care workers to support newly diagnosed people, women who’ve experienced gender-based violence and women with HIV positive children in South Africa. In Australia, I’ve spent the last eight years working for a non-government organisation developing counselling services and supporting people who belong to minority sexuality and gender groups as well as culturally linguistically diverse people. This work included advocating for refugees seeking asylum due to discrimination from their home countries based on their homosexuality and/or HIV status.

For the past five years I have held managerial positions, supervising teams of Counsellors and social workers  who provide these counselling services. As a social worker, I have learned about, practiced and believe in the principles of community work. The primary ones that stand out for me include, partnership, ownership, capacity-building, sustainability and, importantly, community self-determination. These principles are apparent, from what I’ve learnt, in JAA’s work with the Sudanese communities. I would like to support this by bringing new energy and having an outlet through which to express my own strong values of social justice and empowerment which drive me in my life andmy work.

What inspires you about JAA’s work?

As an individual, but also as someone with a strong Jewish, African identity, the values of JAA resonate for me. I believe in mobilising others and utilising this privilege in the name of Tikkun Olam “תיקון עולם “  to work together with less fortunate people to achieve justice, to advocate for humane responses, to redistribute resources and to build bridging relationships of kindness, compassion and respect.

I am guided by the principle of Tzedek, TzedekTirdoff “תִּרְדּף צֶדֶק צֶדֶק “. “Justice, Justice you shall pursue” – teaching us to pursue the goal of justice through means that are just.  I associate with the way JAA has framed its work with the Sudanese community as “a friendship developed (over time)”, communicating the equality and equal respect deserved by communities less fortunate than our own.

What is your favourite quote?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Nelson Mandela.

What is your favorite ‘Jewish’ food?

Any of the fishy stuff. Herring, chopped, Danished, pickled…