Dozens of newly arrived refugees got up to speed with Australia's social landscape in a series of tailored activities for young people during the school holidays.
The first of the recent outings was a specialised youth orientation session at the Inner West Council’s new Refugee Welcome Centre in Callan Park, delivered in partnership with Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre (LMRC), Community MRC, Auburn Diversity Services Inc., CORE Community Services, and the Inner West Council.
Young refugees learned about topics including education and employment, health, tenancy, managing finances, Australian law and culture, and accessing youth services, in a series of sessions that built on information from the general orientation that SSI provides as part of the Humanitarian Settlement Services program.
With all participants having lived in Australia for less than three months, the excursion provided an opportunity for young refugees to develop social connections and learn about support services that are available for new arrivals.
Many participants gathered again a few days later to participate in a popular event on the SSI youth calendar – the SSI Amazing Race adventure, hosted by Community MRC.
More than 60 young refugees took to the streets of Sydney for the treasure hunt-style excursion, which saw them head to a number of locations to complete questions and activities designed to help participants adapt to their new homes.
The groups gained confidence in their ability to navigate a new public transport system, while also learning about the Australian culture, country and landmarks in a relaxed, social environment, SSI’s Manager Humanitarian Settlement Services Yamamah Agha said.
"Our goal is to give young people the best possible start to life in Australia, because we recognise the valuable contribution they can make to our country, both socially and economically, if they are supported to overcome barriers in the early stages of settlement," she said.
"Adjusting to life in a new country with a different culture and systems can be an overwhelming experience. From our involvement in the humanitarian sector, we understand the challenges facing young people and that providing tailored support helps them to become more independent and confident about accessing services in Sydney."
Both youth events were a co-operative effort between SSI and the Youth Collective – a youth initiative from the NSW Settlement Partnership that is supported by SSI.
SSI Youth Projects Coordinator, Dor Akech Achiek – who also coordinates the Youth Collective – commended the partners who took part in these innovative and collaborative initiatives, which helped to build confidence, resilience and leadership in young people.
"The good thing about Youth Collective is that it facilitates the cross-regional efforts of youth workers and greatly enhances collaboration in the activities of everyone involved with NSP, with a particular focus on youth," he said.