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07 Dec 2016


Syrian brothers are getting on with the job after starting life in Australia as refugees

Brothers Sarkis and Garen are looking forward to what the future holds in Australia.

With decades of experience as mechanics, working on cars has been a way of life for the brothers who learned the ropes from relatives in their home city of Aleppo.

Life has taken a different path for the pair since the onset of the Syrian war, but the brothers have quickly found their feet in Australia and are excited for what the future holds.

“It’s normal to have some difficulties coming to a new country, but you have to think about what’s ahead,” Sarkis, aged 29, said. “If you put goals in your mind, you think forward, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Sarkis has poured his efforts into using his experience as a mechanic in Australia and, with the support of SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Services program, he secured a job in the field within months of arriving.

He’s also eager to learn and has plans to complete an Australian trade certificate as a mechanic before specialising in fuel injection diesel engines.

“The war changed our lives in Syria and we had no options left,” he said. “But here in Australia, we can be successful and achieve our goals.”

Garen, 26, shares his brother’s views on the future and he’s keen to follow in Sarkis’s footsteps as a mechanical engineer.

Much like his brother, Garen has quickly adapted to life in Australia and is working part time as a mechanic while also working to improve his English language skills. He’s also taking every opportunity in his stride and has plans to learn how to play the guitar and hone his golf and soccer skills.

“Life in Australia is different,” he said. “The lifestyle, the environment, the people and the weather is so nice. We feel safe and we can relax and learn again.”

While it’s still early days, the brothers are thrilled to return to the workforce and are considering the possibility of opening their own automotive workshop business one day.

“We want to progress right to the top of the stairs, but we are taking one step at a time,” Garen said.

SSI has supported over 1,700 newly arrived refugees and people seeking asylum to find work in the past 12 months. Many more new arrivals are studying English or at university or TAFE to prepare for the Australian work force.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the brothers’ story highlighted the resilience and tenacity of newly arrived refugees, and their desire to regain their independence in Australia.

“Refugees bring so many unique skills and talents to Australia, but they also bring with them incredible resourcefulness and renewed enthusiasm for the future,” Ms Roumeliotis said.

“Many refugees were successful lawyers, teachers, business people and more in their home countries, and they’re keen to move forward with their lives in Australia.

“Supporting new arrivals to settle in Australia and access tools to help them find work and educational pathways in Australia is vital to their success and leads to far greater outcomes both socially and economically.”

SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Services program provides comprehensive support to newly arrived refugees such as Sarkis and Garen in the early stages of settlement to help them access essential services and connect with their community. This includes case management support, access to translating services, housing, health support and more.


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