The settlement journey has continued for our 23 families in Armidale this July, with special emphasis on working directly with newcomer leaders and youth to establish their interests and support them in what they hope to achieve in Armidale. I’ve also had new opportunities to meet more of the amazing community groups around Armidale, who are excited to explore ways of helping our new families settle.
Dr David Gillespie (Assistant Minister for Children and Families) and Barnaby Joyce (Member for New England) met with SSI staff and newcomer families during a recent visit to our Armidale office. It was a great opportunity to discuss regional settlement practice as well as to engage directly with those who have moved to Armidale with the vision to create a better life for themselves and their children. Newcomer families expressed their gratitude to the Armidale community for the welcome and support they have received since arriving in Australia and the sense of safety the community provides- photos attached.
Leaders of the newcomer community have been meeting with SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Program Team Leader Bintu Kamara and I on a fortnightly basis. The purpose of this working group is to foster leadership, build necessary knowledge and skills to empower and ultimately build connections within the Armidale community. The newcomer community have expressed interest in employment, continued development of English skills and undertaking excursions within the local area. Projects are underway to support these aspirations thanks to their leadership and an amazing response from services and businesses in the area.
A number of young people from among our newcomers met with Bintu I on two occasions over the school holidays, to discuss what they want from living in Armidale and to shine a light on their interests and talents. These young people were very engaged and eager to share their thoughts, as well as grateful to be given the opportunity to explore what support services and activities they could participate in to meet other Armidilians. One youth member mentioned that they had been living in a camp for so long that life had only seemed to involve going to and from school and little else. A few popular areas of interest expressed by our young community members included photography, dance and music.
Closed workshop with Council
As part of our ongoing partnership with Armidale Regional Council, I was fortunate to meet, provide updates and answer questions in relation to SSI’s work with the newcomers, as well as explaining a number of opportunities we’re currently exploring with groups and businesses to assist refugee settlement in Armidale.
Sustainable Living Association Panel
I was invited to attend the Sustainable Living Association Annual General meeting whereby I sat on a panel alongside Northern Settlement Services and Sanctuary. The purpose of the panel discussion was to brief the community about refugee settlement, establish ways for the broader community to be involved and welcome newcomers to the region. It was great to be involved in such an initiative.
The Lions Club
I met with members of the Armidale Lions Club and provided an update in relation to the SSI settlement process. The Lions Club members were very accommodating and it was great to have a chat over dinner regarding amazing work they undertake in the Armidale community and how we may work together in the future.
SSI Armidale received a trailer load of donations from Big L, Possum and a family from Woy Woy this week. They travelled 500kms to provide donations of clothing, blankets, books, toys and linen. It’s such a generous gift to the newly arrived families and we are so appreciative of the thought and effort to gather the goods and drive to deliver them to us in Armidale.