SSI began searching for a suitable office in the Bankstown area in September 2014, to accommodate staff and service needs of the SRSS program, the Multicultural Foster Care Service and Ability Links NSW, along with meeting, interview, training and function rooms.
“(SSI General Manager) Peter Zographakis suggested that we check out a brand new site called Little Saigon Plaza, which was so good that we assumed it would be too expensive for SSI to lease in,” said Janine Stainer, SSI Facilities and Operations Manager.
“But then the Fam family, who owns the property, contacted us. Richard Fam, the head of the family and the founder of their business, Fam International, arrived in Australia as a refugee from Vietnam. When he found out about the work SSI does, he wanted to help the organisation out,” added Ms Stainer.
John Fam, Richard’s son and the Director of Fam International, explained: “My dad had to leave Vietnam in the late 1970s with his eldest son, arriving at a refugee camp in Thailand, where my sister was born. After a while, my parents, our sister and our older brother were accepted by Australia. Then my other brother and I were born in Australia.”
“As kids, we knew what the struggle was like for refugees; facing discrimination and other problems. So when my dad found out what Settlement Services International does, he thought how fantastic it is that organisations like this exist these days to assist refugees.
“He said to me and my brother David, ‘Do whatever it takes to make this happen.”
Ms Stainer added, “We are so appreciative to Richard Fam, who has worked so hard to achieve what he has.”
Richard arrived in Australia at about the age of 30. “He started out like everyone tends to: he did factory work,” said his son John. “He did double shifts and triple shifts, and he saved every dollar he earned. He’s had so many different types of jobs since then.
“When Vietnam opened back up to refugees who had to flee the country, he was one of the first people to go back to visit, and he started importing and exporting.”
John said that he and his siblings were always involved in the family business. And every single cent was reinvested back in the business.
Now Richard is enthusiastic to invest in the community. “It’s about giving back to Australia,” said John. “We are very pleased to be able to help SSI, it’s our pleasure.”
Thanks to the generosity of the Fam family, SSI signed the lease for Little Saigon Plaza in December 2014, and it is expected that the fit-out contractor will commence the required building works shortly.