As the year draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the past 12 months and begin looking forward to the new year.
Finding Your Feet (detail) by Sayd Abdali, Nasaphah Nasaphah and Jane Theau for Motherland-Exile/Refuge-Migration (repeat) Exhibition, January 2020, Australian National Maritime Museum.
Without doubt, this year was not what any of us expected. And it's safe to say for many of us, 2020 gave the word unprecedented a new definition.
In this year alone we have survived unprecedented fires, an unprecedented pandemic, and unprecedented restrictions.
But, if I had to choose one word to define this year for us, or for the communities we support, I would choose resilience.
While it has been a difficult year, there have also been wonderful moments of optimism, like our bushfire communities rebuilding, COVID-19 restrictions easing, and our communities rallying together despite physical and social isolation.
Time and time again over this year, we have seen our clients demonstrate incredible resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity.
Despite many individuals being in the midst of their settlement journey, they have worked tirelessly to not only keep their family on their feet in the wake of social and economic disruption, but have also come together to support the wider community.
The power and empathy of our communities is a constant inspiration.
Furthermore, the resilience of our staff and partner organisations, and the unwavering commitment to our clients and communities is something I am immensely proud of.
To have survived this year as an organisation is a credit to our hard-working staff.
Our staff have come through this year with resilience, compassion, and dedication. While they themselves have been affected by the pandemic, they have proudly continued to delivering quality services to our clients and communities.
In all the years of SSI’s operation, we have faced many tests of resilience. This year has been incredibly challenging, but I know we will again emerge with strength, and integrity and, most importantly, we will emerge together.
I think it is important to acknowledge that although it has been a difficult year, we have also made some amazing achievements.
In 2020, we proudly celebrated 20 years of serving and advocating for our communities at SSI. We provided crisis support to individuals and families from asylum seeker backgrounds through donated food packages.
We also continued our journey to provide disability support services to multicultural communities as we commenced providing the NDIS Local Area Coordination Service.
We extended our Multicultural Foster Care Program into Victoria and have recently been selected to deliver a multicultural service to address gambling harm across Victoria.
While these are only some of our achievements, this wouldn’t have been possible without support from our staff, the community, our member organisations, funders, and other partners in the community, corporate and academic sectors. Thank you.
For me, this year has served as a crucial reminder for why SSI and Access exist and why we have been proudly advocating and supporting our clients and communities for the past 20 years.
Our newly released 2019-2020 Annual Report shows that, over the course of a single year, SSI staff made a positive difference in the lives of over 37,400 people.
Thank you all for your continued help in supporting newcomers and other vulnerable community members to reach their full potential.
I also want to acknowledge that this year many people may be spending this time away from family.
It’s why I want to I encourage you, in the spirit of the season to reach out to people who may be on their own, such as those on temporary visa holders, or people who are socially isolated like your friends and neighbors to check in and offer them some company.
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday break.