Ellen Han

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Ellen Han

Ellen Han is a Community Development Officer at Logan City Council in Queensland. Ellen is an empathic and dedicated community development practitioner, who creates connections and builds community. She is committed to serving her community and was instrumental in Logan City Council achieving Advanced Welcoming Cities accreditation in 2023.

Ellen is the joint winner of the Welcoming Cities Award for Individuals. 

Welcoming Cities: Congratulations Ellen! What does an award like this mean to you?

Ellen Han: When I found out I won this award I was genuinely surprised. To me, receiving this award is a meaningful acknowledgment of not just my individual efforts, but also the collective strength of our team and community we work with. Coming from a collective culture, where emphasis is often placed on group achievements rather than individual accomplishments, I still find it a bit hard to feel like my contributions deserve recognition on their own merit. And I really believe this award signifies the impact we, as in my colleagues and the community we work with, collectively made towards a common goal, for the City of Logan to become a more welcoming city.

It’s truly flattering to receive this award and it serves as a source of encouragement to continue pushing boundaries and striving for excellence in my work. Knowing that my work has resonated and my contributions have made an impact is incredibly fulfilling, and it motivates me to continue contributing to what I’m passionate about.

WC: You have made lots of connections in Logan in the five years you’ve been working there. Can you tell us why you feel you’ve created such positive connections and relationships in the region and built such a strong network?

EH: You don’t have to be a people person to work in the community services industry, but if you are, it certainly helps. I consider myself a true people person. For me, relationship building isn’t just a professional strategy; it’s a guiding principle for me as a person. I have a genuine interest in people and believe taking the time to understand people and their stories is essential not only for fostering meaningful connections but also for creating a supportive community.

We are a portfolio-based team, and over the past five years I’ve looked after a number of different portfolios, which enabled me to meet with, and build relationships with, different community cohorts. Whenever I took over a new portfolio, I always allowed myself a decent amount of time trying to identify who my community partners were and making efforts to engage with individuals on a deeper level, listening attentively to their experiences, aspirations and challenges, whether through casual conversations over a cup of tea or more formal networking events.

By investing time and effort into getting to know the people of the City of Logan, I’ve been able to establish genuine rapport and trust within the community. Whether it’s collaborating on projects, seeking advice or simply offering a friendly ear, my commitment to building relationships has opened doors and created opportunities for collaboration and mutual support.

WC: Logan has long established migrant communities in the region, but also a growing new arrival population of migrants to the region. Can you tell us how you work with these different cohorts and meet their needs when there are such different needs?

EH: I believe people in the community are the experts in their lives, and the fundamentals of working with any cohorts is through building genuine relationships and creating opportunities to have conversations around each cohort’s specific strengths, aspirations, priorities and challenges. The process helps build trust and makes sure whatever support I’m providing truly aligns with the actual needs of each group.

Working with established communities has its advantages and challenges. Most of these groups have well-established support networks within their community and may have leaders, elders or their own incorporated organisations with valuable experience in addressing the priorities of their community. When working with these communities, I always acknowledge the expertise they have and try to leverage their existing leadership. Sometimes there might be resistance to changes if the proposed changes challenge norms or traditional practices within the community. I have found it helpful to involve these groups in the decision-making process from the get-go, as it helps build trust, ownership and buy-in from the community.

New arrivals may have different needs and face different challenges compared with established communities. However, my approach is not much different when it comes to getting to know them – understanding their strengths and needs and supporting them – compared with how I approach established communities or any other communities. The challenge for me sometimes is to know where they are based as they often aren’t yet a part of a group and can be hard to reach.

We have great relationships with our local settlement services providers, and sometimes I connect with new arrivals through them. I also attend community and cultural events to connect with new arrivals via these informal settings. I try my best to have a presence in the community because I think working in community development you have to be out in the community to best be able to do your job.

WC: And Ellen, can you tell us how you would like to further the work of Logan as a Welcoming City?  

EH: We are very proud of being accredited as an Advanced Welcoming City, and we take pride in the inclusive and welcoming environment we have cultivated so far in collaboration with our community partners.

I’d like to see the City of Logan building upon its existing strengths and celebrating its cultural diversity more vibrantly. It’s vital we recognise different cultures and actively engage with them through events, festivals, community gatherings and decision-making processes.

I’d like to see more meaningful opportunities created for our community to learn about the role of local government, and to understand the services and programs we offer, so they can feel more comfortable and confident accessing them. I’d like the City of Logan to become a city where everyone, regardless of their background, feels welcome, valued, respected and empowered to contribute to the community’s collective growth and prosperity.

WC: Finally, what do you love most about your job Ellen?

EH: There are several aspects of my job that I absolutely love and it’s hard to find one that I love the most. I think community development workers have the most fun job in the world. While I spend some days behind a desk responding to enquiries, drafting plans and coordinating logistics, I also have the opportunity to step out into the community, interact with residents and witness firsthand community initiatives in action.

Whether it’s a new neighbourhood project coming to fruition, increased participation in local programs or a new community space flourishing, these small victories remind me of the impact our efforts have on people’s lives. Being able to make a difference in the community, no matter how small, is what I cherish most about my job. It’s a role that allows me to combine my passion with the satisfaction of seeing positive change taking place in the community over time.

One Comment on “Ellen Han”

  1. Congratulations Ellen! So well deserved. Ellen has also been instrumental in helping us here in the City of Canning in the prep for the accreditation. She has shared lots of information with us on Logan’s journey to achieving advanced status. Well done Ellen. You are amazing

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