National Multicultural Festival 2023

40 Nationalities Unite in a World of Opportunity with Global Bus Group

CDC Canberra Buses In Queanbeyan Has About 35 Nationalities In Its Workforce And Will Be One Of The Coach Companies Offering Transfers To The Multicultural Festival
CDC Canberra team celebrate at CDC’s Queanbeyan depot ahead of the 2023 National Multicultural Festival. (Back, L-R) Yembeh Mansaray, Michael Salvador, Anita Hewitt, Nora Kalolo, Bimal Gunawardana, Steve Hadley, Ray Wand, Paea’i Sankey, Mathew Thomas, Kin Wo Ip, Chris D’Silva, and Mohammad Chowdhury. (Front L-R) David Gosling, and Fala Faatamala. Photo courtesy Canberra Times.

Diversity in the workplace is something incredibly important to CDC Canberra but that’s no surprise given that nearly 30% percent of its staff is made up of people who are from another culture or country other than Australia.

CDC Canberra regional manager Steve Siddall revealed the statistics ahead of this weekend’s National Multicultural Festival, as CDC Canberra begins operating free shuttle buses on behalf of the ACT Government for the event’s duration.

The iconic festival, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, is Australia’s largest celebration of cultural diversity and runs from Friday 17 February to Sunday, 19 February.

Out of 220-plus employees based at CDC’s Queanbeyan and Fyshwick depots, more than 60 were born overseas, and more than 40 different cultures and countries are represented.

CDC Canberra’s ‘mini-United Nations’ includes staff from Bangladesh, Belgium, Cambodia, Chile, China, Croatia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Macedonia, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Samoa, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Wales, Uganda and more.

Among its Australian-born workforce, CDC Canberra is proud to employ a number of First Nations team members, an area the business is looking to expand upon in the coming year through its Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

Mr Siddall acknowledged that a diverse workplace was a strong workplace.

“We recognise the strengths of each employee and the potential they bring to CDC Canberra,” he said.

“Valuing the differences of others is what brings us together and can be the secret to a successful, thriving workplace and a fair work culture.”

Fyshwick’s Special Needs Transport operations supervisor Jessica Williams said whenever there was an event to celebrate, staff at the depot held a morning tea and encouraged everybody to bring a plate of food.

“This allows everybody to converse and learn about the backgrounds of their colleagues in a very fun way,” she said.

Here are some of their stories!

Paea’i Sankey (Samoa)

Paea'i Sankey

School bus driver Paea’i, who is originally from Samoa, started with CDC in January 2023.

While she’s not new to bus driving and previously drove smaller 24-seater buses, she’s taken to her new role like a duck to water.

“I love, love, love it,” she said.

“I thought ‘oh my gosh, what did I sign up for?’ but I love it. They’re all really good kids who say ‘good morning’ when they get on and ‘thank you’ and ‘good afternoon’ when I drop them home.”

“It’s a fun job, I’m loving it. There is one boy who loves to tell me about his day and what he’s been up to and asks me about my day.”

Paea’i’s husband, James, who she met in Queensland after migrating to Australia from New Zealand, where she lived after leaving her home country in 1986, also works at CDC as a bus driver.

She said she loved working for a company that respected her heritage and culture and “fits in really well”.

“In some workplaces it’s hard to fit in, you might be good at the job, but you don’t necessarily fit in. Everyone here is really nice and it’s great to come to work. They’re really helpful and patient.”

Mohammad Chowdhury (Bangladesh)

Mohammad Chowdhury

Mohammad, who works in operations at CDC Canberra, is originally from Bangladesh and is of Islamic faith.

He joined the team in April of 2022, first as a carer at the Fyshwick depot which operates Special Needs School Services on behalf of the ACT Government, before transitioning into a supervisor role before taking on his current position.

He said part of what he loved about his job was the support and respect he received from his co-workers, bosses and the company when it came to his heritage and faith.

“CDC is a good place to work with people of different faiths and other cultures,” he said.

“(My co-workers) always make sure to source food that is halal for our barbecues and that I’m able to practise my Friday prayers.”

He said he enjoyed sharing his culture with others and always participated in the office barbeques.

He said sometimes he brought food from home and shared it with others and also organised all the vegetarian options.

Kin Wo Ip (Hong Kong)

Kin Wo Ip

Part-time school bus driver Kin moved to Australia after retiring from his job as a station manager at an underground railway in Hong Kong.

It was a job he treasured, that entailed taking care of passengers, but it was time to move on and he wanted to spend more time with his family, helping to take care of his two granddaughters.

That was in 2014.

About three years ago, he decided he wanted to return to work in a reduced capacity, taking up a part time position at the Queanbeyan depot. While it’s a different part of the transport industry, he was able to continue taking care of passengers and ensuring their safety.

“I continue this job to take care of people, the Australian people are very nice and here there are all kinds of multicultural people,” he said.

“We can learn much from each other.”

“I’m very happy to do this job, and all the kids say good morning and have a chat. At first for some it was very strange to have (someone like me) as their driver but they got familiar and were soon very happy sharing their friendly manners.”

“CDC is a great place to work for and it’s very good to have people of different cultures here. We have people from East Asia, Europe and other countries and they can share their experiences, and in turn I can learn from them and share my culture with them.”

Peter Maring (South Sudan/Uganda)

CDC Canberra

Born in South Sudan, Peter, who grew up in Uganda and moved to Australia when he was just seven, has always wanted to work with vulnerable people, and here he can do that.

The 22-year-old, who has just completed his nursing degree, is a carer at CDC Canberra’s Fyshwick depot, where he helps care for special needs students who take the bus to and from school.

“I like working with the kids. It gives me great pleasure to help them and see them grow,” he said.

Peter plans to continue working as a carer until his nursing career takes off.

“There are lots of opportunities for people here in Australia and if I was still in Africa, I don’t know if I’d be able to do this job,” he said.

He said one of the best parts about working for CDC was the company’s multiculturalism.

“There’s a lot of different cultures here and we all work together, working as a team for one goal. One of the things I love about nursing is that you have to embrace and learn about each other’s cultures in order to help them. You see how people are all so different.”

Interested in joining our friendly local team? Or perhaps spreading your wings across the country within a large global company?  Head to our Careers Opportunities page now!

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