Media Releases

Champions on and off the field

They have escaped crises and horrors around the world to find some peace of mind on soccer fields in western Sydney. Now, seven months after a generous community campaign helped them join a Sydney soccer club, this team of refugees and asylum seekers will challenge for a championship.

Read more: Champions on and off the field

Youths seeking refuge offered gifts for fun


Les MurrayYoung people seeking asylum in Australia are in need of many essential items but the gift of free sports shoes and boots will provide something vital for all youth – fun. On August 30, 50 young people living in Sydney on bridging visas will get that gift when the Asylum Sneakers campaign promoted by Welcome to Australia and soccer commentator Les Murray hits town.

Leila Druery from the non-profit organisation Welcome to Australia said the campaign idea grew from seeing the affect sport could have. “Asylum Sneakers came about after seeing the incredibly positive impact of sport on young asylum seeker children in detention centres and in the community,” she said. “Sadly, many children’s participation in sport is limited by not being able to afford shoes and sports equipment.”

Settlement Services International (SSI) is a leading not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, asylum seeker assistance, accommodation, foster care and disability support in NSW. The young recipients are all from SSI’s Community Support program.

Read more: Youths seeking refuge offered gifts for fun

Double loss felt by homeless refugee youth

Broken Time poster

A short film, which premiere’s today, explores the real life experience of homelessness faced by refugee youth living without their families in Sydney.

‘Broken Time’ is the story of Ali, an Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minor (UHM), who falls back on his survival instinct when he finds himself homeless on the streets of Sydney.

Developed by Settlement Services International (SSI), which provides services to humanitarian entrants, with funding from The Australia Council for the Arts, the film will be launches today in Bankstown, to coincide with International Youth Day.

Dilber Hussain played the role of Ali, and was all too familiar with the experience of his character in the film.

Dilber is from Pakistan and arrived in Australia in 2012 as a UHM at the tender age of 17. When his circumstances rapidly deteriorated and he was faced with homelessness, Dilber said he was frightened.

Read more: Double loss felt by homeless refugee youth

SSI Speaker Series: Perception is reality


Settlement Services International’s (SSI) third Speakers’ Series event for 2014 will explore the theme: Perception is reality: How do we form our perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers?

The live panel discussion will approach the complex question from different angles following a presentation by Professor Andrew Markus, who heads the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion research program based at Monash University.

The 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion report suggested that the majority of Australians support a humanitarian settlement program, which assesses refugees overseas but are negative towards asylum seekers arriving by boat. The predominant view is that asylum seekers are illegal economic migrants. Claims of persecution are often ignored as a push factor. These views have increased since 2011. 

Read more: SSI Speaker Series: Perception is reality

Wrestling champion hangs on to hope and new friends

Mohamadreza Ashori, 30, dreamt of competing at the Olympic Games, and still holds on to those hopes despite setbacks throughout his life. In May he won the 74 kilogram division at the Australia Cup of Wrestling. He would have qualified for the Commonwealth Games earlier in the year after success in other events, but he is not an Australian citizen.


Mohamadreza is seeking refugee protection in Australia and has lived in the community for about 12 months while his application is assessed. That means he is not eligible to compete in the Games. He has been supported by Settlement Services International’s (SSI) Community Support Program during that time.

Read more: Wrestling champion hangs on to hope and new friends

Once denied education, Mahdia now relishes her school work


Mahdia, 18, could not attend school in Iran because of social and financial barriers. But since she arrived in Australia with her mother and brothers, she has thrown herself into school work with vigour.

“I really, really love going to school,” Mahdia said, “because I had so many barriers in the country where I came from. I love my school, I love my teachers and subjects and I love to study. I like to go to the library to study whenever I can and if I don’t, I feel like I have missed out on something.” 

Mahdia was born in Iran, where her family had fled to from war-torn Afghanistan. Attending school in Iran was all but impossible, she said, because of her gender and ethnicity. “But I studied by myself and went to an institute to study English,” Mahdia said. “Then we came here to Australia. We were so broken. We had a lot of issues but we did it.” 

Read more: Once denied education, Mahdia now relishes her school work

Forum highlights barriers for refugee women

Women at Risk

Australia has a long and proud history of resettling some of the most vulnerable refugee women and their families, however, major gaps in support services for these women have been identified and need to be addressed. 

Speaking today in Sydney at the Refugee Women at Risk forum hosted by Settlement Service International (SSI), SSI Manager Humanitarian Services David Keegan said that based on consultations with refugee women, it’s clear the current level of support should be reviewed.

“Research conducted by the UNSW Centre for Refugee Research suggests refugee women in Australia under the Woman Risk visa category experience higher levels of post-traumatic stress and face greater challenges on resettlement,” he said.

As the largest provider of services to refugee women in NSW, SSI has observed that a significant number of refugee women who enter via other visa classes have also suffered extreme physical and sexual violence and trauma prior to their arrival and require higher level specialist support services during settlement in Australia.

“SSI currently supports about 1000 vulnerable women, and consultations with 50 women have highlighted a greater need for support services, particularly in employment, affordable housing, health and education,” Mr Keegan continued.

Read more: Forum highlights barriers for refugee women

Refugee Week launch moves to Western Sydney in 2014

Refugee Week 2013

Preparations are under way for the launch of Refugee Week which will this year be held in Western Sydney for the first time.

Refugee Week, Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees, will be launched at the Granville Town Hall at 10.30am, Saturday 14 June.

The launch is being coordinated by the Refugee C­ouncil of Australia (RCOA), the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) and Settlement Services International (SSI).

The keynote speech will be delivered by Merrylands local Ali Ali, a former refugee who fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and arrived in Australia in 2001 as a 17-year-old asylum seeker with no English.

Ali’s speech will expand on the Refugee Week theme “Restoring Hope”, recounting how his journey for safety began with danger as well as hope for a better future.

Read more: Refugee Week launch moves to Western Sydney in 2014

Cultural Shift symposium for migrant and refugee families

Violet RoumeliotisSettling in Australia presents recently arrived migrant and refugee families with many new opportunities but the process of settlement and the associated adjustments to a new country can also be challenging.

“The first few years after arrival are when many migrant and refugee families face some of their greatest challenges,” Settlement Services International (SSI) CEO, Violet Roumeliotis said.

“As our population grows, it has become imperative that we work together to make the change as smooth as possible for migrants and refugees.”

Ms Roumeliotis said SSI had, for the first time in NSW, brought together leaders and experts from diverse organisations to provide an insightful and engaging interactive program at a one day symposium to be held on June 5 in Parramatta, titled ‘Cultural Shift: symposium on supporting migrant and refugee families through settlement.’

Please read on for snapshots of just some of the presentations and workshops at the symposium. SSI can arrange pre-event interviews with presenters and can arrange for interviews if a journalist would like to attend on the day. 


Read more: Cultural Shift symposium for migrant and refugee families

SSI, Vinnies and UnitingCare to support people with disability

Settlement Services International in partnership with St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and UnitingCare has been awarded the tender to deliver Ability Links across 23 local government areas in inner Sydney, Metro Sydney South West, Sutherland Shire and Southern Highland region. 

Ability Links is contributing to the objectives of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and is a new approach of the NSW Government to foster full and active participation of people with disability in their community.

Sixty-four Ability Links Coordinators, known as Linkers, will be hired to provide information and support to people with disability, their families and carers, and their local communities. Linkers will work in connecting local communities in order to shape a more inclusive society for people with disability and their families.

Settlement Services International CEO, Violet Roumeliotis said the missions of the organisations regarding social inclusion made for a highly compatible partnership focused on benefiting people with disability. Providing quality services and support for vulnerable communities, SSI is a leading not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, accommodation, asylum seeker assistance and foster care in NSW.

“People with disability are the beneficiaries of this combined approach and the new model for full participation offered by Ability Links,” said Ms Roumeliotis.

Read more: SSI, Vinnies and UnitingCare to support people with disability

Success stories

Arash Bordbar has a global ambition for helping young refugees

Arash Bordbar, 22, is in front of a garden.Arash Bordbar, who came to Australia as a refugee, is taking his passion to help others to an international level in a bid to shed light on the issues affecting young refugees and people seeking asylum.

Read more ...