A group of female refugees and their children came together to socialise and make new friendships on a recent visit to some of Sydney’s historic landmarks.
Twenty women and children travelled from Blacktown, Fairfield and Auburn with SSI staff and volunteers to catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay in Sydney’s east.
Many of the women and children had not been on a ferry before, so the trip was a good chance for them to find out how to navigate some of Sydney’s public transport.
Starting with a picnic lunch and a short stroll along the South Head Heritage Trail, the group learned about early settlement in Sydney and had the chance to meet new friends over a relaxed afternoon.
This kind of informal socialising helps women in vulnerable situations to become more independent and confident, and to integrate into their communities more easily.
The women weren’t the only ones making new social connections, though; their children also used the excursion to give their social skills a boost and enjoy a paddle in the harbour-side beach with new friends.
SSI’s HSS Service Delivery Manager, Yamamah Agha, said unaccompanied female refugees were often at risk of isolation, and it was important for them to connect with other women.
“These excursions give women and their children an opportunity to meet other people who can relate to their experiences and help them to develop a sense of identity in Australia,” Ms Agha said.
“This helps vulnerable women to better adapt to life in Australia by building social connections that help to improve their confidence and their capacity to engage with the broader community.”
One participant, Sima, said these excursions help her to find out about parts of Sydney she would otherwise not have explored.
“If we use these activities, we can learn about Australia and Sydney,” she said. “We can help our family and friends to learn how to come here, too.”
Razia echoed those comments, saying she enjoyed a previous excursion to the Botanic Gardens so much that she stayed behind when the group went home and later repeated the trip with her children.
“I didn’t know this place, but now I know how to come by myself,” she said. “Next time, maybe I can take my children and my friends, and swim.”