The delight, pride and gratitude were palpable when recipients of the Settlement Services International (SSI) Allianz Australia Refugee Scholarships were acknowledged during a multicultural afternoon tea in Bankstown on April 12.
SSI CEO, Violet Roumeliotis, Allianz’s Tim Dawson and scholarship committee members celebrate with scholarship recipients.
Forty-eight people from a refugee background, needing financial assistance for their school education or attaining local recognition for their qualifications, will now get the support they need.
SSI CEO, Violet Roumeliotis, joined Allianz’s Chief Human Resources Manager, Tim Dawson, to celebrate the success of the scholarship recipients with families, friends, teachers and SSI staff.
The SSI Allianz Refugee Scholarships were created to minimise the financial barriers experienced by refugees as they participate in the NSW education system.
More than $90,000 — including $50,000 from Allianz — was allocated to individuals across all levels of the education system: primary school, secondary school, vocational education and training, university, and skills and qualifications recognition.
Mr Dawson said Allianz was keen to support the scholarships because it wanted to help people get job ready. Now it was playing a part in the students’ development and hopefully enriching their futures.
Scholarships reached across NSW, to students from Albury and Wagga Wagga in the south to Coffs Harbour in the north.
Among recipients present at the function was Tenzin, a refugee studying at Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design, who came to Australia with her family from India, where she was born as a stateless child in a refugee settlement.
She says she loves learning about science and that the SSI Allianz Scholarship will help make her educational necessities more affordable and make available extracurricular activities that offer further educational opportunities.
Nadine, from Syria, attends Keira High School. After her home in Homs was destroyed she lived in Damascus and Beirut before arriving in Australia.
Her education in Australia is very important to her because her journey meant she missed four years of schooling. When she leaves school she wants to study to be a paediatrician.
She says with a good education a refugee will be better placed to make a positive contribution to society. “This is something refugees really want to do to repay Australia’s kindness to them.”
There are so many other touching and uplifting stories: Milada, whose scholarship will support her to continue studying Year 8; Balquees, who will use it to have her PhD recognised in Australia; or Rebecca, who’s studying for a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE.
Our vision for the SSI Allianz Scholarships has been that they complement the tremendous work SSI and its partner organisations are already doing for refugees and asylum seekers.
We believe we have an obligation to give something back to our communities, to add value and to intervene and support social cohesion.
We want to provide opportunities for young people to finish their schooling and to support families who have come to Australia with passions and talents and skills and a fire to make this country their home, and to give something back.
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.