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Mary Liang

Mary Liang, manager of the Ron Williams Community Centre in Redfern with the City of Sydney, services a very diverse community. With majority of their members being from Chinese, and other non-English speaking backgrounds, such as Greek, Russian and Spanish. This is her story.

Growing up in a small coastal town in South China, very close to Macau and Hong Kong, Mary can speak both Mandarin and Cantonese, which is very helpful in her community work.

Starting out myself 8 years ago as an international student in Sydney, I can really empathise with the new immigrants, as I’ve struggled personally.


This empathy has been the drive behind her passion for her work at the centre.

Now that I’m a mum, I also try to pass on my knowledge of other languages and culture to my children, because I truly believe that multiculturalism is what make Australia great.


At work, it is the recent success of a couple of their community groups at the centre securing community grants from state and local government. Being able to support them along the journey has been a real joy for Mary, building up their capacity so they are empowered to do what they are passionate about was both inspiring and satisfying for her as well.

We are always trying to identify the gaps in services and understanding the need from the community, and looking for ways to really build on that.


Currently, they are holding community consultations on future programs, and a lot of exciting ideas are floating around, such as multicultural cooking programs and some partnership events for refugee week.

Her current focus is to help the centre’s members from non-English speaking backgrounds gain access to apply for City of Sydney’s Community Grants, where they will be kicking off a Cantonese and Mandarin Community Grants information session in late May to get things rolling.

Working in multicultural or community services, the most important qualities Mary believes are empathy and integrity.

If you love what you do, then build on it and influence more people to make a bigger impact.


There are so many ways to start, volunteering, getting involved in local community groups and events, making new friends with like-minded people to start your own community projects, such as a community garden or even a reading club.

If you are passionate about serving and helping other people, just go for it.