It has been a busy and exciting year in which SSI and the people we work with have achieved a great deal.
SSI’s staff, partners, the communities we work with, our volunteers and supporters should be very proud when we look back and see the positive changes that our work has made.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis.
As we approach Christmas, which is a time of peace, joy and hope for most of us, we should remember that it can be a challenging time for many people.
It is for this reason that I invite you to help SSI ensure that the vulnerable people we work with receive vital resources and access to initiatives that benefit their health and social participation, such as SSI's Community Kitchen, sports, playgroups and education scholarships.
By making a donation you can help increase community understanding about refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants, help us fund programs and initiatives that support the wellbeing of our clients, and assist individuals and families to reach their potential.
Please visit the SSI Christmas Appeal site, here.
Before I sign off for another year, I’d like to tell you all about another achievement for SSI and our partners, that we have high expectations for in terms of how it will help the people we work with.
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, December 8, SSI was joined by its two partners in the New Roots Project, beyondblue and Movember Foundation, to officially launch the innovative initiative for refugee men.
The project is aimed specifically at men who are arriving in Australia on humanitarian visas, and I am very pleased that we have been able to provide some additional support for these men.
The project has developed an app for Android smartphones and Apple iPhones to support men as they settle in Australia. It comes in Arabic, English, Farsi and Tamil. The app is backed by an online toolkit for caseworkers who work with the men settling in Australia. The toolkit provides training, information and tools to support clients with the transition to a new community in a way that preserves wellbeing. The third element of the project is community training to help people who will connect with new arrivals.
I have been asked a number of times, why is it only for men? Well firstly, although the app is designed for men, it may be useful for women as well. It contains fundamental information that should be useful to almost anyone settling in Australia from overseas.
However, it is widely recognised that men are more reluctant to ask for support than women are, and men also approach their own health and wellbeing much differently.
The settlement experience for refugees can be overwhelming at times, and comes with many joys and challenges. These challenges include dealing with the effects of often-traumatic experiences before arrival, adjusting to a new country and culture, learning English, looking for work, loss of family support or friendships and social isolation.
Without the right support, these challenges can negatively affect a person’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
For anyone to reach their potential, they need good support and good health. Good health is based on many factors, including: feeling good about yourself, being productive and valuable to your community, connecting with friends and maintaining active body and mind.
And this is where the New Roots Project can provide some easily accessible support for men. New Roots is about presenting men on humanitarian visas in Australia with support they can use, in ways that they want to receive it.
The app is a tool for men to use to learn more about Australian society; to find their local sports clubs and community groups; and to learn how to apply for work and study in Australia. It can be used to access government services and the medical or community support.
The app isn’t intended to replace traditional one-on-one support from a settlement caseworker or from community leaders. Rather, it is designed as an additional tool, in the user’s first language, that men can pull from their pockets and use whenever they need.
This is a very exciting project that we think could make a very positive difference to the lives of its users.
I would like to sincerely thank you all for your support throughout 2015, and I wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe Christmas and a prosperous year to come.