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13 Feb 2024


Community collaboration supports Rana to safely deliver a baby boy on New Years Day 

Twenty-seven- year-old* Rana* arrived in Sydney in late 2023, heavily pregnant. She carried with her few belongings—but the immense physical and emotional toll of her journey from Gaza to Australia.

Pregnant woman holding branch of olive tree while wearing palestinian keffiyeh in the field

Rana required urgent medical tests to assess her health and the health of her unborn child. As she was ineligible for Medicare due to her visa status, her Aunt had to cover hundreds of dollars of unsubsidised medical bills.  

Rana also faced cramped living conditions upon her arrival. Rana’s Aunt did her best to accommodate her niece in her 3-bedroom apartment, which was home to her husband and five children, but the living conditions put a strain on the family. The impending arrival of 8 additional family members, who had been granted visas to come to Australia, further emphasised the need to secure appropriate housing for Rana. 

In the past four months, SSI has stepped up to help individuals such as Rana and their families who have been affected by the crisis in Gaza. 

Normally, SSI provides humanitarian and settlement services to people arriving on a humanitarian visa on behalf of the Federal government across several locations in NSW and Queensland. This funding enables SSI to work closely with newcomers, connecting them with the skills, support and resources they need to find their feet and develop into independent members of society. 

However, as people like Rana have needed to arrive on a temporary visa, they are ineligible for government-funded settlement support and services such as Medicare.  

As a social justice organisation, SSI is committed to prioritise the safety of communities fleeing the crisis in Gaza. We acted quickly to establish a self-funded temporary casework support program led by a specialist team of settlement staff. The services offered include casework, referrals, links to information and services, and provision of resources such as fact sheets and access to information sessions with other sector partners. 

Recognising the complexity of Rana’s situation, the SSI team connected her with financial, medical, and housing support. They also linked Rana and her brother to other specialist providers such as Refugee Health who helped Rana make a prenatal appointment at her local hospital and free prescription medicine. 

And, to support Rana in the preparations for her birth, SSI provided her with a food hamper and vouchers to purchase essentials such as baby clothing, wipes, nappies.  

On New Years day, Rana safely delivered a baby boy.  

To ensure she had the resources she needed to support her newborn, SSI, connected Rana with the CEO of the Australian Relief Organisation, who provided $600 of vouchers, baby items and clothing and a portable air-conditioner for the newborns sleeping area.   

It was very important to Rana that her son be circumcised. To ensure her religious and cultural needs were met, SSI helped to arrange a pro-bono procedure with the Iraqi Medical Association. 

Rana is still living with her Aunt and her family, but Al Ishan charity is working with them to explore appropriate housing options for when her other family members are able to cross the Rafah border and make their way to Australia. She is also working with RACS to apply for a temporary protection visa to strengthen her security in Australia.  

Rana’s settlement journey illustrates the complexity of many new arrivals’ cases, and the collaborative efforts SSI and other non-profit and community organisations are making to support individuals to feel safe and welcome in Australia. 

*Some personal details changed to protect identity.

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