Settlement Services International (SSI) today announced education scholarships worth $60,000 as part of the launch of the new SSI Foundation.
Formerly known as the Connect Australia Foundation, the SSI Foundation introduces more categories of support and increased amounts distributed.
Past Connect Australia Foundation scholarship recipient Mou Ayol speaking at the launch.
As the philanthropic arm of SSI — Australia’s largest not-for-profit humanitarian organisation — the SSI Foundation will provide targeted support through education scholarships and grants programs to people from a refugee background to support their successful transition into the Australian community.
SSI’s aim is to minimise the impact of structural disadvantage felt by those seeking refuge in Australia by increasing their access to education, employment and community infrastructure. The SSI Foundation will complement its work in humanitarian settlement, accommodation, asylum seeker assistance, foster care, disability support and employment services.
Once they are living in Australia, and typically in the earlier years, refugees face many challenges, such as financial hardship, dealing with experiences of torture and trauma, and family separation. Australia has a long history of providing successful settlement outcomes for refugees, many of whom have gone on to make important civil, social and economic contributions to our society.
The SSI Foundation aims to continue that tradition by providing targeted scholarships and grant support to those most in need and facing social and economic challenges.
The foundation was launched by 2014 Australian Human Rights Medal winner Dorothy Hoddinott AO, who, as principal of Holroyd High School in western Sydney, has guided hundreds of refugee and asylum-seeking children to become model citizens.
In the first year the SSI Foundation will provide 36 education scholarships throughout NSW for eligible primary school, high school and tertiary students (including university, vocational and skills recognition). In following years there will be a comprehensive suite of grant opportunities for arts and culture, health and wellbeing, settlement innovation and sponsorships in community support and engagement.
The SSI Foundation’s Education Scholarships are intended to help minimise the financial barriers experienced by refugees and asylum seekers as they participate in the NSW education system.
Speaking at the launch at SSI’s head office in Ashfield was Mou Ayol, a former refugee from Sudan whose scholarship from the Connect Australia Foundation enabled him to attend a TAFE course in Community Welfare. Since then he has obtained a Bachelor of Social Science through the University of Western Sydney and is studying for a Masters in Urban Management and Planning.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the Foundation demonstrated that SSI’s commitment went beyond its contracted programs. “Through the work of the SSI Foundation, SSI can achieve its vision of a society that values the diversity of its people and actively provides support to ensure meaningful social and economic participation.
“The SSI Foundation taps into the strengths, talents and resilience of refugees to help individuals and families reach their potential.
“Although the scholarships will not fully fund an individual’s degree or schooling, they will be a significant contribution for many. A scholarship from the SSI Foundation may be just enough to remove that final financial barrier and allow a refugee an opportunity for a suitable education.”
“This is just the start,” Ms Roumeliotis said of the Education Scholarships. “There is more to come.”
The SSI Foundation welcomes donations from members of the community who are committed to creating a fair and just society.
Opportunities for support include funding scholarships at a local or state-wide level, from primary school through to university. Additional areas of support include funding a specific stream within the grants or sponsorship program.
All donations are welcome and will help make a difference to those who have sought refuge in Australia.
For more information and application forms, applicants should visit the Foundation pages on the SSI website. Application forms for each category can be downloaded from the category page.
Media contact: SSI Corporate Communications Manager Angela Calabrese, 0401 284 828.