Media Releases

A group of individuals seeking asylum in Australia have overcome social barriers and developed new community connections following the success of the inaugural Surfing Without Borders program run by Settlement Services International.

The program introduced a number of individuals who are seeking asylum to the iconic Australian sport of surfing with regular lessons provided by Let’s Go Surfing, owned and operated by community surfing advocate Brenda Miley.

Participants learned the basics of surfing and water safety over the course of three months, and gained an insight into Australia’s surfing culture. They also connected with the local surfing community and enjoyed working towards a common goal with others, which supports mental health and wellbeing.

Participants were presented with towels and surfboards after completing the program, courtesy of generous donations from Let’s Go Surfing, community members and local businesses.

“Refugees and people seeking asylum are among the most vulnerable individuals in Australia, and the Surfing Without Borders program has allowed them to take their minds off the challenges they face and focus on learning new skills in a fun and welcoming environment,” SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said.

“Community engagement initiatives deliver a range of benefits such as improved health outcomes, confidence, and the ability to form more meaningful relationships and community connections. Ultimately, this helps individuals to realise their full potential, become more actively engaged in the community, and to contribute to society.

“This program has been a huge success, with participants developing a strong sense of comradery, and their confidence and English language skills have significantly improved in just three months.

“We are thrilled to see how far these men have come in the face of such adversity; it is truly inspiring and a testament to the strength and perseverance of all asylum seekers and refugees living in NSW,” Ms Roumeliotis added.

A diverse group of participants completed the inaugural Surfing Without Borders program, including individuals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Iran.

Plans to develop the 2016 program are currently underway.


Media enquiries:

SSI Communications Coordinator, Louise Wallace 0488 680 255 or (02) 8799 6741.

Success stories

Muhammad Sadiq: How I came to call Australia home

Muhammad Sadiq cooking for people seeking asylum at Community Kitchen.I came to Australia as a refugee in 2009, hoping to find a peaceful place to build a home for my family. Increasing persecution of the Hazara community from which my family and I come meant that our native land, Pakistan, was no longer the safe haven it once had been.

Read more ...