SSI’s Chair Kamalle Dabboussy and I had the opportunity to present at the International Metropolis Conference in Milan in November, and we left with a membership invitation and the beginnings of a bid to host the conference in Sydney.
The Milan conference theme, “Migration: energy for the planet, feeding cultures,” looked at a global migration context.
Our presentation on entrepreneurship among refugees and other migrants, focused on the experiences and results of SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative.
There were more than 750 conference delegates and it was an energising and valuable experience. Aside from our presentation, Kamalle and I promoted the philosophical underpinnings and values of SSI and reiterated that our organisation valued highly the sharing of intellectual capital.
We spoke to the co-conveners Professor Jan Rath and Dr Howard Duncan about SSI and our interest in bringing the Metropolis International Conference to Sydney in future. This was well received and we were invited to become members of the organising committee. It is still early days, but SSI will now consider approaching partners to make a bid to host the conference in Sydney.
The prospect of hosting Metropolis is exciting but it was the reception shown to SSI that has galvanised me to build on the opportunity to share our organisation’s work. The work done by SSI staff is innovative and of great interest to organisations in many other countries in Europe, North Africa and the northern hemisphere in general. The opportunity we have to share SSI’s expertise is something that I will be considering further with colleagues and the SSI Board.
On the subject of great opportunities for SSI, David Keegan and I recently attended the annual consultations with Australian civil society at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Canberra Bureau. The two-day event in mid-November was hosted by UNHCR regional representative Thomas Albrecht and facilitated by writer Jane Caro.
This event featured some extremely interesting presentations on the global context of the refugee experience by Thomas Albrecht; on the Australian context by Refugee Council of Australia CEO Paul Power; and on the law and use of language by the Director of the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, Professor Jane McAdam.
We also heard a historical perspective of migration to Australia from Swinburne University of Technology Professor Klaus Newman, and we took part in several interesting plenary sessions held by media professionals from the ABC and Fairfax Media. David Keegan spoke about the UNHCR annual global NGO consultations earlier this year and it was a great opportunity to network with like-minded people.
Finally, I’d like to touch on the Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) Annual General Meeting held in late November. I have been the NSW representative on the SCOA Executive and have just been re-elected for a further two years. CEO of Northern Settlement Services (NSS) Lulu Tantos was elected as SCOA’s second NSW representative at the meeting. Lulu will provide a regional perspective and I would like to welcome her to the Executive. I also would like to acknowledge the excellent work performed by Clement Meru, Manager of Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre, when he stepped in for Ricci Bartels.
All of these events and organisations present valuable opportunities for SSI to build relationships and to share expertise and experiences. I look forward to a positive 2015, where we can continue to work together for our clients and communities.
December 3, 2014