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15 Nov 2017


Techfugees hackathon builds social capital around refugee settlement

SSI recently took part in Techfugees Fairfield, an annual event acting as a centre of gravity for developers, refugees and the startup community to collaborate on solving problems with tech solutions. The initiative fosters the growth of a new ecosystem where refugees form lasting friendships in the wider community, enabling social change.

Congratulations to the winning team HospoNav, who have secured 10K in funding to kick-start their healthcare navigation app (pictured) with Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy.
Working alongside current and former refugees supported by Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) and SSI’s Youth Collective, developers and entrepreneurs were tasked with solving issues related to access to education, employment, transport, social integration and community connectedness, and emotional regulation related to trauma. 
Nine “hacks” (i.e. solutions) were created over the two-day event, including an app that helps refugees find volunteering opportunities, a platform that helps newly arrived refugees setup yoga classes to reduce PTSD, and a microfinancing app assisting refugees in attaining local accreditation to requalify skills.  
SSI Strategic Policy Manager Dr Astrid Perry said that she found the weekend truly inspiring. 
“There is genuine goodwill to help find solutions for refugees and the dilemmas they face. I love how refugees supported by SSI can get involved in the creative process and they are the ones that further develop the idea and make it happen.” Ms. Perry said.
An app which helps refugees navigate the local healthcare system was recognised as the winning solution by a panel of six judges including the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy and Julie Trell, Head of muru-D, an Australian tech start-up accelerator backed by Telstra.
In second place was Lifta, a personalised Artificial Intelligence chatbot that reduces loneliness to assist refugees integrate into their community and look after wellbeing.
In third place was Stay With Me, an app that helps elderly refugees with transport and translation services conceptualised by Nirary Dacho. Mr Dacho attended the inaugural Techfugees hackathon back in 2015, where he met his co-founder Anna Robson and supported by SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups developed the platform Refugee Talent, which connects skilled refugees with companies offering job opportunities.
The Hon. Craig Laundy expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative and said that the outcomes derived from the hackathon are a win-win for both refugee integration and for accessing talent in industry. 
“This is social change and how a community of people ready, willing and able to help absolutely can and will move that dial.” Mr. Laundy said. 
One of the key event organisers Anne-Marie Elias said that Techfugees Australia is changing the settlement of refugees through community cohesion and social capital.
“We started this initiative in November 2015, partnered with SSI and haven’t looked back. We are inspired by the refugees who attend our events, they are at the core of understanding the problem and finding solutions. We are literally building the social capital around refugees one hack at a time.” Ms. Elias said.
SSI Youth Projects Coordinator Dor Akech Achiek said that the hackathon provides a platform which empowers refugees to make a greater impact.
“The hackathon gives refugees an opportunity to co-design a solution to a particular challenge, which is identified by refugees themselves. This is empowering as it gives them a voice in how that solution is realised.” Mr. Achiek said. 
To view all of the technology solutions created during the recent Techfugees Australia hackathon, click here
A large group of people huddling together.
It’s a wrap! Finale snapshot of Techfugees Fairfield participants 2017.


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