People born in Australia may take it for granted that they can travel to Canberra and visit Parliament House. But Jawad, who was born in Afghanistan and lived in Pakistan before seeking asylum in Australia, was astonished when he learnt anyone could see the rooms where parliamentarians sit.
Jawad at Parliament House.
Jawad receives support through SSI’s Status Resolution Support Services for people seeking asylum, but he is also a valued volunteer at SSI Community Kitchen. Jawad said he was having an English lesson with his teacher Lesley Ashwood, a volunteer teacher with the Salvation Army, and two other students, when he found out about the possibility of visiting Parliament.
“I asked, ‘Is it really possible to go?’ he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll take you’.” So Lesley drove her three students to Canberra for a day.
“It was amazing to see where the law is made, to be where the people who make the policies, make the laws, make amendments, change the lives of people – wow,” Jawad said.
“In Afghanistan, you can’t get anywhere near Parliament because there are barricades. In Pakistan we cannot go anywhere.”
Jawad and his fellow students also loved seeing the Australian War Memorial museum. “That really [stood out] for us, the way Australia [commemorates] that part of its history,” he said.
The group also saw Old Parliament House, the National Gallery, and had a picnic lunch on Lake Burley Griffin.