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Thirty-five people from a refugee background, needing financial assistance for their education or attaining local recognition for their qualifications, will get the support they need as part of the Settlement Services International (SSI) and Allianz Australia 2019 Refugee Scholarships.

A scholarship ceremony and multicultural afternoon tea was held at Allianz headquarters in Sydney yesterday, where SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis joined Allianz Australia’s Managing Director Richard Feledy to acknowledge and celebrate the success of the scholarship recipients with their families.

The SSI Allianz Refugee Scholarships were created to minimise the financial barriers experienced by refugees as they participate in the NSW education system. Over $84,000 – including $50,000 from Allianz – has been allocated this year to individuals across the education system: secondary school, vocational education and training, university, and skills and qualifications recognition.

One scholarship recipient, George Najarian, a refugee from Syria, applied for the SSI Allianz University Scholarship to help him achieve his dream of becoming a successful engineer. Mr Najarian and his family settled in Australia in 2017 after fleeing their home in Aleppo, where he had nearly completed a degree in robotics.

“Our family shop had been bombed, my brother had been shot and my sister’s school was destroyed. I was risking my life by going to university,” explained Mr Najarian. “Becoming an engineer will provide a decent life for my mum, my siblings and I, and will allow me to give back to the country which gave my family another chance at life.”

Mr Najarian will put his scholarship towards an Extended Diploma of Engineering at Western Sydney University. The funds will cover the cost of his tuition, the purchase of a laptop, textbooks and engineering software.

This award-winning partnership between Allianz and SSI has been delivering new education and career opportunities for refugees and migrants for three consecutive years now. To date, 130 refugee education scholarships have been awarded, with a combined value of $264,000, and 21 refugees have been supported into permanent employment with Allianz in a variety of skilled roles. A further 20 refugee youths have been supported through pre-employment workshops.

Ms Roumeliotis said the SSI Allianz Scholarships complemented the tremendous work SSI and partner organisations were doing for people from refugee backgrounds, tapping into their strengths, talent and resilience to help individuals reach their potential.

“We believe we have an obligation to support our communities, to add value and strengthen social cohesion,” she said. “Importantly, these scholarships reflect our fundamental view that everyone has the right to meet their potential and to live the life they want to live.

“SSI is extremely pleased that our partnership with Allianz continues to help new members of our community to follow their education and employment pathways, like George, so they can realise their dreams and make their own special contribution to our diverse society.”

Allianz Australia Managing Director Richard Feledy said, “A good quality education can provide people with the opportunity to change their lives and those of their families and communities, and we are thrilled to support the recipients of the Allianz SSI Scholarships for the third consecutive year. The SSI organisation, these scholarships, and our Allianz Refugee Employment Programs all aim to provide these strong individuals with ongoing education and career opportunities so they can fulfil their personal and professional goals, and we are proud to be a part of this important initiative.”

About the SSI Allianz Scholarships 

The SSI Allianz scholarships directly support people from refugee backgrounds to achieve independence.

Refugees who come to Australia face many challenges during settlement, such as financial hardship, dealing with experiences of torture and trauma, and family separation.

Yet Australia is a nation built on immigration and has a long history of providing safe asylum to refugees, many of whom have gone on to make great civil, social and economic contributions to Australian society

SSI and Allianz aim to continue that tradition by providing targeted scholarships to those who are the most in need and willing to overcome social and economic challenges.

Success stories

Hameed's Story

Hameed studying with a tutor.

My name is Hameed Cina. My life in Australia today is the life of a normal citizen, ordinary by any standard. I’m married, I have two young daughters and I have a good job that I love. I also volunteer a lot of my free time for my community. But the way in which I arrived at this point in my life was definitely not ordinary.

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