SSI News Blog

On Sunday, November 11, participants and ambassadors from the Welcome2Sydney project attended Newtown Festival, spending a fun day out enjoying music, markets and food.

Welcome2Sydney participants at Newtown Festival

The festival, celebrating its 40th year of inspiring social change, was produced by Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, which aims to build an inclusive, resilient, self-reliant and creative community.

It was a great opportunity for Welcome2Sydney ambassadors to show newcomers a beautiful neighbourhood like Newtown and be part of a rich exchange with people from different cultures.

Neil, one of the ambassadors, said, “I loved being able to show the participants around Newtown Festival while learning more about them and their personal story. It was fantastic to reconnect with families and hear about their progress in settling into Sydney as well as meeting new participants in the program.”

Newcomers also had a great time in a very accepting and embracing environment surrounded by residents, youth and multicultural communities.

“We had so much fun,” said one participant. “We enjoyed it and it was great to see my daughter go out and meet people because she is always staying at home.”

Habib, a young newcomer from Syria, said, “I have never been to Newtown so I had the chance to check out a completely new area. The activity was so entertaining and beautiful and it was our first time in such a massive music festival as we never had similar festivals in Syria.

“We spent the entire day at the park doing something different as it was a new vibe to us. I had so much fun and tried new food.”

Since January, Welcome2Sydney has been working closely with ambassadors and newcomers to increase a feeling of social wellbeing, build an inclusive community and connect people to share similar interests and improve social connections.

The program has been encouraging repeat visits, inviting participants to meet every time with new people from the local community or catch up with others they have previously met.

Habib said, “We did not know anyone when we arrived to Sydney and now we keep meeting new people every time we go on an outing. I am surprised how all ambassadors in the program are unique and make us want to go out with them again.

“The ambassadors Nick and Neil were indescribable. They have a beautiful soul and a great vibe. We wanted to continue the activity and do some karaoke.”

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Karim's small business success while seeking asylum

Ignite Small Business Start-ups client Karim.Karim* arrived in Australia in 2012 to seek asylum when it became unsafe for him to stay in Iran.

An electrical engineer by trade and with a wealth of experience, he owned and operated his own business in his home town of Shiraz, Iran.

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