Over the last two months, people from all across SSI have been working hard in the background to advocate for and support the resettlement of Afghan people in Australia.
SSI staff sort generous donations for Afghan evacuees.
Since the news of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban first broke, we have searched for ways to support people living in Afghanistan who were abruptly plunged into a state of uncertainty and fear.
The situation in Afghanistan has been particularly distressing as many in our community, including staff, clients and volunteers, have deep connections to this area.
It is understandable to feel a sense of helplessness at this situation, but for SSI this became a moment for action. We joined other humanitarian organisations, human rights groups and Afghan communities in Australia in advocating to the government to aid Afghan refugees fleeing this violence, especially those who were most vulnerable – minority groups, such as women and girls who are at risk.
SSI was then engaged in the provision of settlement services and case management support in NSW to Afghan arrivals, under the Australian Federal Government’s Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) on arrival, in hotel quarantine, and for up to 18 months in the community.
We began providing this support in August, while Greater Sydney was under strict COVID-19 lockdown and as families that fled Afghanistan with just the clothes on their back and under a mixture of visas began arriving in hotel quarantine in NSW and across the country.
The Afghanistan intake is unique because the Department of Home Affairs has committed to assisting the people of Afghanistan and all Afghan evacuees have been offered immediate settlement support through the HSP, including evacuees who are Australian citizens, humanitarian entrants, and other visa holders.
Our HSP team stepped up to support families during hotel quarantine by confirming support needs, establishing their preferred settlement location within Australia, providing clothing and necessities like mobile phones, and conducting daily wellbeing checks in-language.
While the majority of the families are now in their short-term accommodation, we are still receiving clients who have completed mandatory quarantine in other states. SSI will support clients to secure long-term accommodation in the suburbs they chose to live in.
Great leaders in times of crisis are the people who put their hands up to offer support. The outpouring of care and concern from our staff, the community and our supporters has been extraordinary. From donations of culturally appropriate food and groceries to gift cards and digital technology such as phones and laptops, all will go towards supporting evacuees to transition into Australian life.
I want to thank everyone who has provided support, especially our valued corporate partners.
As many of you in our community are asking how you can provide assistance, we have created a page on the SSI website with a list of suggestions on how you can support the Afghan community in Australia and overseas.
It includes petitions to sign, how to contact your local member of parliament, trustworthy organisations you can donate to, and more. You can view this page here.