Media Releases

Seeking asylum and playing cricket

Sport is renowned for bringing people from all over the world together, and now cricket has united two seemingly disparate groups of men. Refugees and people seeking asylum have joined members of Knox Grammar School’s ‘Old Boys’ association to hone their bat and ball skills together in the lead up to cricket season.  

The weekly pre-season cricket clinics at Auburn District Cricket Club on Saturdays have resulted in a mutually beneficial partnership for the 18 or so refugees and asylum seekers, who are clients of SSI, and members of the Old Knox Grammarians’ Association.

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One person's food, is another's future

Yoga Raja has a talent for “food carving” that is finding appreciative audiences at Sydney weddings and functions.

Yoga, 32, is an artist and food – watermelons, carrots and white radish – is his medium. From a watermelon he can carve a life-like human portrait, and from carrots and radish he sculpts bouquets of flowers that people approach to smell as if real.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Success stories

SSI Volunteer Spotlight: Sue Vile

Courtesy The Australian: Ethiopian refugee Adi Tefera, left, with volunteer chef Kate Spina at Four Brave WomenSue Vile was among the first to be inducted into the SSI’s Armidale volunteer program, bringing with her a wealth of experience and existing training gathered from her time in aid work, in Australia and abroad.

A retired school teacher and nurse, Sue has dedicated an enormous amount of her time in recent years on the front line of humanitarian services, helping refugees at many stages of their journey to safety.


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