When 28-year-old Afghan refugee Karim, who has an intellectual disability, contacted Ability Links NSW (ALNSW), he didn’t know what to expect. All he knew was that he needed support to "get better".
After fleeing his war-torn country, Karim had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which had evolved to an acute depression that kept him in isolation, and kept him awake with persistent nightmares.
At the time, Karim was still learning English, so he got very excited when he met SSI Linker Shabana, who spoke Dari like him, and who told him about the ALNSW program, which is funded by the NSW Government.
ALNSW is a free program that supports people with disability aged 9 to 64, their families and carers. The program is designed to help people plan for their future by building on their strengths and skills to lead the life they want as valued members of their community.
SSI delivers ALNSW through its Linkers, who work closely with participants to identify their goals and interests. Many of the SSI Linkers are also bilingual and bicultural, making it easier for people of all backgrounds to feel supported to achieve their goals.
In his mother tongue, Karim explained his situation to the Linker and they discussed options.
On that same day, Shabana provided him with information about counselling services in his local area and told him about STARTTS (Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors), an organisation that offers counselling specifically for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Karim liked the idea, so the Linker contacted STARTTS and registered him over the phone for counselling sessions. Karim said his first session with the psychologist went very well, and he told his Linker he couldn’t wait to attend the next one.
A few weeks later, when the SSI Linker contacted him again, Karim said he had just finished his tenth counselling session with STARTTS and that he could already feel how his life had improved.
“Now I can sleep better at night and I think I have the courage to talk to people with no fear,” he said.