At SSI’s fourth and final Speakers’ Series for 2014, a capacity live audience heard the remarkable stories of three young people who each fled their birth countries as refugees before coming to Australia.
The event, titled The strength of youth: young people and their refugee experiences, was held at SSI’s Ashfield auditorium on November 11, and was also streamed live to an audience online. People can now watch a high-definition recording of the event on SSI's YouTube channel, here.
SSI Manager, Humanitarian Services David Keegan opened the event by saying:
“As a long-term youth worker and youth advocate I am very pleased to see that we have a youth-focused event on tonight. Young people can give us great insight into life’s challenges but also what you can do with those challenges and how you can turn them into opportunities.
“While being at SSI, I’ve learned that while youth face many great challenges they also create positive outcomes out of those challenges. We have three great stories tonight from young people about how they work through those issues and how they understand them from their perspective.”
The opening speaker was Asif, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, who talked about the struggle he and others like him went through trying to find a safe place to live. Asif also spoke about the skills and experience of people seeking asylum and how he thought asylum seekers could contribute to Australian society.
Sarah Yahya, 19, came to Australia with her mother and sister in 2007 as a refugee from Iraq. She spoke about the personal difficulties she battled to settle in Australia. Sarah told of the crisis of self she experienced after learning why her family had to flee Iraq. She talked about the bullying by fellow students and the confusion and anxiety of starting school in a country where the language was foreign, and of the depression she dealt with.
Bashir Yousufi, who finished his HSC that week, explained how he paid a man he had never met before about AU$2 to lead him from Afghanistan to the Pakistan border when he was 13 years old. From Pakistan, he journeyed to Australia with a group of young men and teenagers, he said, despite never having heard of the country before.
The speakers then joined a panel with SSI Case Manager Marcela Hart and Youth Projects Coordinator, Multicultural Youth NSW, Ryan Buesnel, and took questions from the audience.