anglican focus

The news site of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland: nourishing and connecting our faith community

Q&A with Anglicare HR Advisor and Multicultural Facilitator, BTS fan, music aficionado and soccer player, Khai Balabbo

Spotlight Q&A

Meet travel enthusiast Khai Balabbo and find out about her Anglicare roles, her take on “Being Together: Embracing Joy”, the kindest and bravest gesture she has ever received, her karaoke go-to song and her faith journey

Print article

Anglicare’s Khai Balabbo is an only child, moving from the Philippines to Brisbane nearly three years ago to study. She began volunteering for Anglicare, soon securing a permanent position.

How long have you been working at Anglicare Southern Queensland and in what roles?

I’ve been working at Anglicare for a year and two months. I first volunteered as Program Support Assistant for three months helping in volunteer recruitment before I got a permanent role as an HR Advisor and Multicultural Facilitator.

How does your role contribute to the Church’s mission?

Together with Nichole Hogg (Leadership, Culture and Engagement Support Officer), we are currently promoting activities for our Multicultural Program, which is funded by the Department of Health to support the development of a home support service system and enable Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) service providers to operate effectively in line with the objectives of the CHSP and within the context of the broader aged care system.

I believe this contributes to the Anglican Mark of Mission about responding to human need by loving service. We go into communities helping people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to access CHSP and work with different CHSP providers to establish a community of practice to better serve diverse communities.

What projects and activities are you currently working on?

We’ve updated our policies and procedures on Engaging and Using Interpreters and we have coordinated with Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) to gain access to TIS online accounts so we can assist our services in booking free translating and interpreting. We also have our Harmony Day celebration coming up on 21 March at St John’s Cathedral, and we’re hoping a lot of staff can celebrate with us!

What are your plans and goals for the next 12 months?

Our goals for the next 12 months are to provide our information sessions and digital literacy program to our CALD communities to increase their awareness of CHSP and gain confidence in accessing this using a computer, tablet or mobile phone. We are also organising culture exchange sessions, and we will distribute an Inclusive Engagement Toolkit and other training modules to aged care providers so they can help their staff develop their cultural capability and confidence in providing inclusive and culturally appropriate care to diverse older people.

Khai Balabbo during filming of the International Mother Language Day video outside Webber House on Ann St in February 2022

What is cultural competency and why is it important?

Cultural competency is the ability to acknowledge differences in appearance, identity, behaviour, values and culture, and develop meaningful relationships with people of diverse backgrounds. It is important that we recognise, care, and respect the identity, beliefs, and values of clients and staff to ensure that we provide culturally appropriate care and an inclusive work environment.

What has been one of the highlights of your time at Anglicare in your roles so far?

I came to Australia from the Philippines almost three years ago to study for my master’s degree, and to start a new life and career here. I was lucky to have a part-time job as an HR Advisor at Anglicare whilst studying, but I remember experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, such as stress, homesickness, and anxiety due to balancing work, university life, and missing home. Our HR Lead, Jenni Donovan, was quick to notice that I was going through tough times and told me that I can always talk to her and let her know what support I need or if I needed to take a day off to take care of my mental health. I’ve been working as an HR professional for nine years, and it was the first time I was able to talk about mental health with my manager and I felt more motivated to perform better at work.

“I came to Australia from the Philippines almost three years ago to study for my master’s degree, and to start a new life and career here” (Khai Balabbo, pictured at her Griffith University graduation ceremony at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre in July 2021)

2022’s Diocesan theme is ‘Being Together: Embracing Joy’. What are some practical ways that we can celebrate the way differences help to make us whole and the importance of diversity in our unity?

One practical way to celebrate our differences and have unity in diversity, I believe, starts with actively listening to your peers and other diverse people. This includes taking your time to engage with them, focusing and understanding their point of view, and adapting to their communication style. When people start to set their minds into actively searching for opportunities to get to know people from diverse backgrounds, it helps us to achieve mutual respect and generate shared cultural understanding and expressions.

Khai Balabbo with family and friends at Nabana no Sato Tunnel of Light, Kuwana, Japan in November 2014

Can you tell us a little about your personal faith journey?

I am a Catholic and I was a member of Youth for Christ all throughout high school and university. I am very confident about my faith in God, as I believe that I cannot gain all the opportunities and achieve the successes that I’ve enjoyed and overcome challenges without Him.

What is your favourite scripture and why?

My favourite scripture is, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41.10). I always catch myself worrying about things I cannot control, but when I read this scripture, it gives me strength and trust in the Lord that He has planned great things for me and I just need to do the best that I can.

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

It was when Typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines back in 2009. My uncle rode his motorbike from his home and then swam in floodwaters (around neck-deep, and up to 15 feet deep in some areas) to bring us food and assist us because our house was submerged in floodwater. It took him the whole day to travel 13 kilometres, but it didn’t stop him from helping his family.

Khai Balabbo’s house in the Philippines after it was submerged by floodwater due to Typhon Ondoy in September 2009

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

The best advice I got was from my cousin: “No one is born a master”.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I am a music fan — I like to listen to different genres and to sing, but what relaxes and recharges me the most is when I listen to or watch my favourite band, BTS (K-pop boy band), because their music is full of positivity and I believe in what they stand for: “encourage people to love themselves and from that love look at the world with a warm heart.”

I also enjoy travelling with friends and family.

Khai Balabbo at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, South Korea in April 2016

What is your karaoke go-to song?

My go-to karaoke song is ‘Make You Feel My Love’ by Adele as it suits my voice, but if I don’t care what I sound like (especially for my friends’ and family’s entertainment), I would definitely go with ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ or ‘All By Myself’ by Celine Dion and sing my heart out!

One-year-old Khai Balabbo with her aunt at a family party in their home in the Philippines in December 1992

Where do you do your best thinking?

I think best when I have music on and walk outside or while I am near nature.

Khai Balabbo at Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia in February 2015

What makes you nostalgic and why?

What makes me nostalgic are my parents because I’m an only child and we love to travel a lot, but due to COVID-19, I haven’t been with them for three years.

What’s your unanswerable question – the question you are always asking yourself?

My unanswerable question is, “Am I truly happy?”— my mother always tells me that the key to a happy life is being content with the blessings the Lord has given you, but I have doubts and regrets in life that I feel I still need to accept and move on from to be genuinely happy in myself.

 If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

Aside from listening to music, I cheer myself up by watching movies or TV dramas, and before COVID-19 and my knee injury, I used to play a lot of soccer and I miss it a lot!

Khai Balabbo playing soccer with cousins and friends in the Philippines in April 2014

Editor’s note: You are warmly invited to join in the Harmony Day festivities at St John’s Cathedral on Monday 21 March between 10.30am and 1pm. This special annual event in the life of our Diocesan community will include a service, live entertainment and a light lunch. This event is co-hosted by Anglicare Southern Queensland and St John’s Cathedral. If you would like to find out more about or attend this event, please email Leanne Vines at

More Spotlight Q&A stories

Loading next article