Help Gazan families at risk of homelessness in Australia. Donate to our Crisis Response Fund.

20 Dec 2018


Lisa’s Update – Coffs Harbour Community News

We are finding exciting and innovative ways to make Coffs a home for people who have newly arrived.

Community News will be a bimonthly opportunity for you to see the projects and initiatives we are pursuing, and to keep you in the loop for opportunities to get involved in. As a Coffs Harbour local myself, I know just how amazing and supportive our community can be.

Let’s take a look at the past year – here’s a snapshot!

Fusion Festival

This was the first year SSI has had the opportunity to participate in Fusion Festival, and what a day it was! This amazing celebration of diversity and culture truly reflected our community values and its capacity to welcome those seeking to build a new life in Australia.

The SSI Coffs team were excited to use the event to build more relationships in the multicultural sector of Coffs Harbour. It was an important opportunity to invite newly arrived families and reassure them their culture and heritage will be respected and appreciated in their new home.

Roja Resh – The Yazidi day of remembrance

‘Roja Resh;’ translated as ‘Black Day,’ marks the day ISIS attacked the Yazidi community in the Sinjar district, Northern Iraq, in 2014.

On the day of ‘Roja Resh,’ August 3rd, SSI together with STARTTS and Coffs Harbour City Council, assisted in creating a space for our Yazidi families to gather and bring together members of the wider Coffs community who were interested in learning the significance of “Roja Resh” and why it should not be forgotten. A sombre ceremony, we had tea and coffee as the community stood and told stories, shared photographs of loved ones and lit candles.
It was so heart-warming to see families establish their voice and share their story with the Coffs Harbour community.

Freedom Feast

Even though it was in June, I can’t fail to mention the spectacularly successful ‘Freedom Feast’ held during Refugee Week – a council initiative and the brain child of Andrew Davis – Sustainable Living & Community Programs Coordinator Coffs Harbour City Council.

The community came together as one big family, sharing a long table sit down meal, complete with live entertainment, stories and a community performance. Over 600 people brought a plate to share, making it a community feast of mouth-watering authentic home cooked food from all over the world for everyone to enjoy.

The SSI team attended steering group meetings, circulatied information and organised and coordinated a children’s activity that contributed to a public art installation at the mall.

36306540 1996368210395202 8644656808973041664 o36257446 1996368390395184 6241410349577273344 o36177112 1996372667061423 6592795595591647232 o36188183 1996370063728350 8216513483697553408 o

New SSI Volunteers

SSI wants everyone to work together to assist our newly arrived families achieve incredible goals- and volunteers are a critical part of making amazing things happen.
We’ve recently welcomed a number of new volunteers into our Coffs Harbour team, but there’s room for plenty more! From providing housing assistance, to creating fun kids activities, we have a huge variety of volunteer opportunities, click here to check them out.


The SSI Coffs team is thrilled to announce a new ongoing community led initiative… CommuniTEA!

The project is about supporting newcomers to develop a positive sense of community, to have a voice and find home in their new community. Eritrean coffee will be served by the lovely Martha, while Syrian tea and coffee will be served by Zozan and Kamiran. CommuniTEA is about creating a space for individuals to build social networks, develop a sense of belonging and to share their skills and stories.

Come and join us at the Harbour Markets on Sundays to celebrate “CommuniTEA”.

This initiative is made possible through the support of the incredible Kim, from the Happy Frog and the Frog 500 fund. The fund gives 100% of the profit raised from specially marked in-store products back to our local community raising $500 to put towards various local projects and worthwhile causes.

By purchasing the products shown in the link you are making a donation to the Frog 500!

Check it out here ……
Together with Bec at STARTTS the first Potluck in the Park was held on Thursday 22 November. It’s a potluck, which means you bring a meal with you and share with others if you’re keen. Essentially it’s about providing a platform for people to gather, connect established community members with people who are newly arrived and have a huge amount of fun!

The evening was so well attended by all that we’d like to have another “POTLUCK” on 24 January 2019!

Culturally Responsive Practice Training

On Thursday 15 November SSI Coffs Harbour offered professional development opportunities to valued community partners in our fundamentals workshop, aiming to assist them build upon their capability to work more effectively with diversity.

Our culturally responsive practice training was developed to support our own diverse workforce. This highly interactive workshop assists participants to be able to:

  • Identify the five capabilities for culturally responsive practice
  • Reflect on their own cultural identities, beliefs and values
  • Demonstrate a complex understanding of culture
  • Recognise the impact of migration and exile on individuals
  • Utilise communication skills for effective cultural understanding
  • Incorporate strategies that build rapport and engagement

Thank you to all who participated, I very much enjoyed spending the day with you and building on our connection

Settlement Outcomes in Regional Australia

Jock Collins (UTS) and Carol Reid (Western Sydney Uni) visited Coffs Harbour in November to complete research on the integration of refugees in regional Australia areas.
Their research included interviewing 15 families from various back grounds, who arrived in 2015, 2016 and 2017. A longitudinal study will be conducted over the next 3 years to learn what life is like for new comers in Australia..

During this time we employed 4 Bilingual Research Assistants (BRA) from our local community. A big Thank you to Meena, Hasan, Warda and Khider for acting as a bridge between the researchers and families – I value your skills and cultural knowledge.

If you would like more information about the research project please contact me.

New Families

Over the past couple of months we’ve had a number of new families arrive from Syria Iraq Burma Congo Afghanistan and Eritrea!


Have a happy and safe holiday everyone!!

It has been an amazing year working together and I look forward to next year.


Other media releases

Send this to a friend