Media Releases

New arrivals find a "lifetime" sport

Tony Podesta believes tennis is a ‘lifetime’ sport. So who better to teach tennis to then recently arrived refugees settling into their new lives in Australia?

A group of 8 to 12 children and adults has participated in a Tennis Australia Multicultural Tennis Program for Refugees at the Tony Podesta School of Tennis in Fairfield once a week for the past 10 weeks.

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Multicultural group enriches Sydney music

Asylum seekers may not be able to bring many material possessions with them when seeking safety in Australia, but many of them bring impressive skills. To give their talents an outlet, and so more people can enjopy them, Settlement Services International (SSI) an a Sydney music organisation have facilitated opportunities for a group of refugee and asylum seeker musicians from Iran and Burma. 

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Foster carers help maintain cultural connections

The importance of maintaining a child’s connection to their cultural heritage, language and religion while in foster care should not be underestimated.

During NSW Foster Care week, September 14-21, Manager of Multicultural Foster Care Service (MFCS) Mr Ghassan Noujaim, hopes to highlight the important work of the services’ foster carers in helping maintain cultural connections.

“Our foster carers are incredible in their dedication to, and support for, keeping cultural links for their foster children,” said Mr Noujaim.

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Champion team united on the soccer field

Most of them had never played soccer on grass fields with marked lines before, but in their first season in Australia this special team proved themselves champions. After a thrilling 2-1 win, the Newington Gunners Soccer Club’s team of refugees and asylum seekers won its Grand Final on Saturday, September 13.

The players had come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sierra Leone, Turkey, Nepal and Tajikistan to enjoy safer, better lives in Australia. Many of them are supported by not-for-profit organisation Settlement Services International’s (SSI) humanitarian settlement programs. SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said watching them play this season had been inspiring.

Read more: Champion team united on the soccer field

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

Success stories

Talar Hagob Syrian graphic design teacher secures a role with Australia for UNHCR

Graphic design teacher Talar Hagob has secured part-time employment with Australia for UNHCR.Being witness to acts of war as an adolescent has increased the maturity of 22-year-old graphic design teacher Talar Hagob, who has recently secured part-time employment with Australia for UNHCR.


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