SSI News Blog

There were big smiles on everyone’s faces when members of Blacktown North Public School Community Hub visited Luna Park in March.

Community Hubs is a national program that supports migrant and refugee parents and children as they navigate the education system.


Family fun for Blacktown North Public School playgroup at Luna Park.

Settlement Services International is the support agency for Community Hubs in NSW, where 12 Hubs are located in three local government areas.

Twenty-one people in nine families from Blacktown North benefited from a very enjoyable day out — an event that seemed most unlikely when newly appointed Community Hub Leader Hasret Mehmedali took up the challenge to organise a trip in her first week at work.

Hasret spotted the opportunity on the Playgroups NSW website when searching for ways to start a playgroup.

When Hasret suggested the idea to Blacktown North Principal Carmen Cefai, she thought it was “crazy”, given there was only a couple of weeks to plan. But she simply said, “If you can achieve this, you will win these families over.”

That became Hasret’s mission. Planning required meeting the school community, starting a playgroup and building rapport with families to gauge and invite them to join the playgroup and to go on the trip.

Within a week, Hasret established strong connections with the families and attracted huge interest in the trip. The families agreed to contribute to the travel costs to and from Luna Park.

However, after finding out actual costs for a bus, Hasret thought that the entire trip would fail as she was faced with the new challenge of raising sufficient funds to subsidise the trip.

After speaking to a few agencies, without success, Hasret called Playgroups NSW who put her in contact with a generous sponsor who donated the total costs of transport for the day.

“The children were impeccably behaved on the bus to Luna Park,” said Hasret. “Even the driver commented on how quiet the trip was! Once we arrived at the park, families oohed and aahed at the iconic sights of Sydney, posed for a group photo and headed into the park.”

The group was directed to the Big Top to enjoy many performances, including Playschool and Hi5. Hasret said it was wonderful to see the families enjoy their time with their children while singing along and engaging with each act.

After the performances, there were many other things to see. There was a Lego Duplo exhibit, Play-Doh, Crayola stands and rides for children to play and explore. This kept the families and children busy for hours, interacting and having fun together.

The children were also treated to free face painting and balloons and an opportunity to meet the farm animals at the petting zoo.

On the way home, the bus was awfully quiet, and many parents carried their children off the bus asleep in their arms, indicating a great day was had by all.

The parents expressed their appreciation to be part of such a wonderful experience. And, although exhausting, it was very rewarding for the new Hub Leader.

Hasret not only won the hearts of the families, but also now has a large attendance each week at the school’s playgroup.

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Hameed's Story

Hameed studying with a tutor.

My name is Hameed Cina. My life in Australia today is the life of a normal citizen, ordinary by any standard. I’m married, I have two young daughters and I have a good job that I love. I also volunteer a lot of my free time for my community. But the way in which I arrived at this point in my life was definitely not ordinary.

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