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09 Nov 2016


From the CEO – Exciting times to be part of SSI

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis

On Monday, November 7, we received the great news that SSI/CoAct’s JobActive service was again awarded a five-star rating by the Department of Employment. Star ratings are used to assess a provider’s efficiency and effectiveness in placing job seekers into sustainable work and this is the second quarter in a row we have achieved this status.

SSI’s social enterprises and recruitment service has helped almost 2,000 people find work in the past financial year and we are proud of the work being done by SSI Employment.

Another reason to feel proud to be part of SSI is the important milestone we reached last week with the National Multicultural Women’s Conference, which was organised by SSI in partnership with the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA).

Many SSI staff members have been working hard to produce this conference for several months. The conference focused on the challenges and opportunities facing multicultural women in Australia. The two-day event brought together almost 400 leaders, practitioners and community members who discussed a wide range of issues affecting women from multicultural backgrounds, such as health, identity, education, employment and culture, while also celebrating their outstanding contributions to our society.

The conference presented a robust line up of stimulating speakers from different areas, including Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Women, Renata Kaldor AO, Navy Officer Captain Mona Shindy, Aboriginal author and activist Jackie Huggins, Aboriginal athlete and former federal Senator Nova Peris and Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. All of them participated in lively and entertaining sessions led by facilitators Jenny Brockie and Jeannette Francis.

I can say I’m extremely pleased with how this first edition of the conference went, proving itself to be a well overdue discussion towards reframing the narrative around CALD women and highlighting the need for an association that can effectively represent this target, which we currently lack in Australia.

But this wasn’t the only conference I attended in the past month. At the end of October, I had the opportunity to travel to Japan to participate in the 2016 International Metropolis Conference. For the first time in its 20 year history, Metropolis was held in an Asian country, which is very good news. For too long, the global discussion about migration has come exclusively from the West, so it is about time we include other perspectives and practices.

Big challenges, such as the current refugee crisis, require big alliances, so having our Asian counterparts on board is another step closer to achieving a truly global approach to migration, settlement and integration.

This year I was invited to speak on a panel of experts around the theme of ‘An International Comparative Investigation of Settlement, Employment and Education Initiatives and Outcomes’. This shows that SSI is viewed as a leader in integration and highlights how relevant it is for our organisation to participate in forums, be part of the international decision-making processes and remain an advocate for change.

Delegates from leading countries in refugee resettlement such as Germany and Canada were also on the panel and showed great interest in SSI’s work, especially the HSS program, the Ignite initiative and Employment’s social enterprises.

The panel was also a good opportunity to share best practices with settlement organisations from Nova Scotia and other Canadian provinces, a country that has announced it will be opening its doors to 300,000 refugees in 2017.

But I can’t finish this overview without sharing with you more good news. As NSW Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka announced on the last day of the conference, Sydney has been chosen to host the International Metropolis Conference in 2018, with SSI, the Australian Multicultural Foundation and the NSW Government as organising partners of the event.

This is going to be an invaluable opportunity to both project Sydney’s successful multiculturalism model at international level and SSI as a leading humanitarian organisation working in migration and humanitarian settlement in NSW.

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