One office, 26 languages

Multi and bilingual agents are in demand, but one Victorian agency has taken multicultural to a new level by accommodating more than two dozen different languages.

With 40 staff members, Barry Plant Noble Park in Victoria boasts staff members fluent in Vietnamese, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Malay, Cambodian, Hindi, Serbian, Bosnian, Macedonian, Turkish, Sinhalese, Mandarin, Indonesian, Lithuanian and Tagalog to name a few.

“Nelson Mandela said if you speak words a man understands, you can win him over – but if you speak in his language, you win his heart,” director Cameron Davison said.

“We currently have 19 languages, which is a lot, and we’ve had up to 26, which is almost absurd, but it’s really helped us to be competitive in our area.”

Located in the Greater Dandenong area in Melbourne, Mr Davison said the suburb has a very diverse community.

“The city of Greater Dandenong has an agreement with the Victorian government that we will take on a large number of refugees. So five years ago we had a significant influx of Sudanese, a few years earlier we had Afghani and Burmese refugees. And quite a number of years ago it was Serbians and Bosnians.”

According to Mr Davison, the multilingual agency has helped secure numerous listings, sales and help accommodate the local rental market.

“We had a girl who was literally fresh off the boat from Serbia, she was 18 and got into Monash Clayton. She walked into the office without a single word of English and one of our guys was Serbian and started talking to her," explained Mr Davison.

“She wanted to rent a one-bedroom unit as student accommodation, and she had the money to cover it. We then placed her in a unit where she was an absolutely perfect tenant for three years.

“Once she’d completed her tenancy, she walked into the office with the keys and in perfect English said ‘Thank you so much for the support you’ve given me, and giving me a chance with that property. Without that I couldn’t have studied and I really appreciate it'.”

As well as creating a name for themselves in the local area, Mr Davison claims that it adds to the sense of community in the region.

“Without having that arrow in our quiver we would never have been able to service her," he said. "It gave her the chance to prove herself and basically gave her a life here in Australia.”

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