SSI News Blog

A well-maintained garden and outdoor area goes a long way to making a house feel like a home. 

A partnership between SSI and Habitat for Humanity Australia (HFHA) is helping to do just that through HFHA’s Brush with Kindness program.

HFHA recruits corporate volunteers for the Backyard Blitz style activity that is a home maintenance and repair program working in partnership with disadvantaged and low-income members of the community and non-government organisations (NGO).

On Thursday April 28, 10 volunteers ‘blitzed’ two properties in Mt Druitt whose tenants are newly arrived refugees.

In fact, one of the families arrived just two days prior, and with an elderly grandmother in a wheelchair, they have a lot to contend with in these early days.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers help refugees
A group of volunteers pitched in to help newly arrived refugees.

HFHA CEO Martin Thomas said maintaining a property can be a challenging task and many people don’t know where to start.

“People of refugee background have a lot on their minds when they arrive here,” said Mr Thomas.

“Property maintenance is not likely to be a priority when you have to learn a new language, enrol your kids in school and find a job.”

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said property maintenance and tenancy is included as part of the orientation SSI provides to the newly arrived people it supports, which ensures they have the information and support to get off to the best start possible.

“But many are dealing with trauma and separation from family, as well as the practical logistics of settling into a new country, so we really value and appreciate the work that Habitat for Humanity does and the way they are supporting vulnerable people in our community.”

Ms Roumeliotis went on to say that like HFHA, SSI also believes a home goes a long way to providing security, stability and a better community.

“Obviously housing is a key priority for new arrivals to Australia and it is wonderful to know that there is support for them in the local community,” said Ms Roumeliotis.

The 10 volunteers taking part in HFHA Brush with Kindness, all from Arup engineering firm, enjoyed getting their hands dirty and the opportunity to spend a day out of the office. They remarked that it was ‘rewarding’ and ‘satisfying’, and that they enjoyed the opportunity to help someone in need.

Success stories

Muhammad Sadiq: How I came to call Australia home

Muhammad Sadiq cooking for people seeking asylum at Community Kitchen.I came to Australia as a refugee in 2009, hoping to find a peaceful place to build a home for my family. Increasing persecution of the Hazara community from which my family and I come meant that our native land, Pakistan, was no longer the safe haven it once had been.

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