SSI News Blog

Earlier this week, I was uplifted to hear the news that sixteen-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg was awarded France’s inaugural Freedom Prize, which pays homage to people who are fighting for freedom.

"Fridays for Future" protest started by Greta Thunberg.

Greta used her acceptance speech to urge people to recognise the link between climate change and mass migration, famine and war. In listening to Greta speak, I was struck by one particular comment: “I was very angry and sad because of everything that was happening, and I just decided that I was going to do something about it.”

Eight years ago, Greta did not even know what climate change was. Now she is one of the world’s leading advocates on this ecological crisis, after launching a school strike that went viral around the world.

Greta’s work is emblematic of a trend Deloitte highlighted last year in research indicating a growing dissatisfaction with political solutions to complex issues such as immigration and global warming.

We can all learn a lot from Greta’s fearlessness in tackling a crisis creating severe socioecological effects for people who are least equipped to withstand them.

Whether you’re in government, civil society, business — or a school student like Greta — we can all take positive steps to address social justice issues.

Social impact is our shared right and responsibility. At SSI, we work with some amazing values-driven companies that generate benefits that extend beyond their customer base to the broader community.

Through partnerships with these community minded corporate and academic institutes, we create real change in our communities.

One such example is SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative, which supports refugee entrepreneurs to establish or expand a small business. To date, Ignite has supported 130 businesses that now employ 68 other people. Over 60 per cent of our Ignite entrepreneurs are now generating enough income to be economically independent.

This program is entirely funded by SSI and our partners. It epitomises the incredible social change that is possible when the not-for-profit, corporate and academic sectors come together with the wider community.

An entertaining and engaging way organisations and individuals support Ignite is by sponsoring and attending SSI’s Mosaic Gala. This event raises critical funds for both Ignite and our scholarships that help refugees to overcome financial barriers to education. This year, we’re particularly pleased to have award-winning author, artist and comedian Anh Do joining us as a keynote speaker. Click here to get involved.

It is only through cooperation from all corners of our society that we can solve social challenges. Like Greta, we have to be fearless. We can’t just notice the problems in our community — we have to act.

Success stories

Refugee turned citizen feels privileged to have a say

Paz Roman smiling to camera.At 17, Paz Roman was nominated as Young Australian of the Year, mostly for her volunteer work. Ironically, she wasn’t an Australian. She came here from Chile as a refugee with her family when she was just a baby, and despite living in Australia since then, she struggled with the idea of becoming a citizen.  

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