SSI News Blog

Hundreds of Sydneysiders showed their support for refugees when an eclectic group of Sydney’s newest community members took centre stage at Darling Harbour on November 18.

 

The Uganda Cultural Group gets festival crowds moving with traditional dance.

The Uganda Cultural Group gets festival crowds moving with traditional dance.

 Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park hosted the SSI New Beginnings Festival in Spring, where hundreds gathered to enjoy the musical, culinary and artistic talents of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The event had many newly arrived refugees come and join the festivities.

 
Speaking to launch the festival, SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said that the New Beginnings Festival in Spring gave people from migrant and refugee backgrounds an important platform to showcase their heritage in all its richness.
 
“The festival is a chance to experience firsthand the unique culture and artistry found in new communities, and celebrates the contributions refugees and migrants make to their new homes,” Ms Roumeliotis said.
 
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis launches the festival.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis launches the festival.
 
 The festival had an array of stalls that showcased food and craft from around the world. Many of the businesses that set up shop are from SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative and are regulars at the Addison Road Street Food Markets in Marrickville. The self-funded Ignite initiative supports refugee entrepreneurs to kick-start their own businesses.
 
 
Sirjan Persian Rugs is a small business supported by SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative.
 
Sirjan Persian Rugs is a small business supported by SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative.
 
 SSI’s also runs IgniteAbility, which supports people with disability to expand and launch their own businesses.  
 
 
The festival hosts businesses like Syrian Kitchen that are supported by SSI’s IgniteAbility program
The festival hosts businesses like Syrian Kitchen that are supported by SSI’s IgniteAbility program

SSI’s Ability Links NSW program also had a presence at the festival, showcasing the talents of individuals from the community who live with disability.
 
 
Pictured with SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis (third from the left) is Kaelin Bird, a visual artist from Jindabyne who has been working with Ability Links NSW to achieve her goals.

Pictured with SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis (third from the left) is Kaelin Bird, a visual artist from Jindabyne who has been working with Ability Links NSW to achieve her goals. 

The festival showcased a jam-packed program of musical and dance performances that astounded audiences, including Sendas Salvadoreñas, an El Salvadoran dance and music performance group that celebrates the diversity of Latin American culture through rich storytelling.

Sendas Salvadoreñas performing acrobatic dance moves.

Sendas Salvadoreñas performing acrobatic dance moves.

Dynamic hip hop and afro beats were performed by renowned Ugandan artist Kween G, who came to Australia after her family was granted asylum. Listen to a recent interview with SSI’s Carolina Triana and Kween on ABC’s Evening Show here.

Hip hop artist Kween G gets crowds bopping to phenomenal beats.

Hip hop artist Kween G gets crowds bopping to phenomenal beats. 

Guitar riffs played by classical guitarist Sako Dermenijan drove shivers up audiences’ spines. Sako is an Armenian classical guitarist who sought refuge after the war broke out in his country.

Sako’s musical talents move festival audiences.

Sako’s musical talents move festival audiences. 

The festival’s finale comprised a mesmerising performance from Worlds Collide, which fuses contemporary Australian music with African rhythms, Uyghur song cycles,  funk beats, soaring vocals and hip hop rhymes.

World Collide wrap up the festival with outstanding beats.

World Collide wrap up the festival with outstanding beats. 

Now in its third year, the New Beginnings Festival in Spring is the brainchild of Carolina Triana — the 2017 recipient of the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Community Medal for Arts & Culture, which recognised her work with refugees and people seeking asylum. It is one of several events that make up the broader SSI New Beginnings: Refugee Arts & Culture Festival.

 
A huge thanks to all SSI’s New Beginnings Festival in Spring partners: Commonwealth Bank, City of Sydney, Darling Harbour and Darling Square.
 
 
SSI team pictured with representatives of strategic partner Commonwealth Bank Australia.
SSI team pictured with representatives of strategic partner Commonwealth Bank Australia. 

Stay tuned for the next New Beginnings Festival event, which will take place as part of Refugee Week in June 2018. For more information on the New Beginnings Festival in Spring, click here.

 

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.

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