Young refugees needing help with their school education and adults seeking local recognition for their qualifications will be among those eligible for new scholarships worth more than $90,000.
Allianz Australia and not-for-profit humanitarian organisation Settlement Services International (SSI) are offering the scholarships to help refugees settle in the community.
Forty-six scholarships, ranging from $500 to $5,000, will be offered in five categories, including primary and secondary school, vocational training, tertiary qualification and skills recognition.
A recipient of a scholarship from SSI in the 2015 round of funding, Simon Issa, 20, said the money had been a huge help as he started his Higher School Certificate. He has since applied to two Sydney universities to study medicine in 2017.
“When we left Lebanon, where we had been refugees for two years, to come to Australia we had a very big financial problem,” Mr Issa said. “We had to sell everything to come here. We got some help but it wasn’t enough to cover my education.
“Everything I had studied overseas, in Syria, I had to do again here but in another language (English),” Mr Issa said. “That was the hardest part; I had to translate every word from Arabic to English. But I’m getting better at English, slowly.
“The scholarship helped me a lot. I bought lots of guides (text books) for all of my subjects and a computer — that helped a lot.”
Mr Issa was not allowed to continue his high school studies while a refugee in Lebanon, so he worked two jobs every day for the two years. Mornings he worked in a shoe shop and nights in a chocolate factory.
“When my parents found out about the scholarship, they were so proud; I could see it in my father’s eyes,” Mr Issa said. “Dad was so upset when I couldn’t go to school in Lebanon.
“I’ve applied now to two universities to study medicine and medical science. The main aim is to be a doctor.”
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said that from her experience, as supported by research, refugees who settle in Australia have a high motivation to work but this didn’t automatically lead to employment.
“Refugees who lack Australian work experience, affordable options for the recognition of their skills and qualifications, and limited access to English language tuition, face barriers in the employment market,” Ms Roumeliotis said.
“The SSI Allianz Scholarships will reduce the financial barriers experienced by refugees as they participate in the NSW education system.”
Allianz Australia’s Managing Director, Niran Peiris said he was proud to help refugees receive an education and contribute to business.
“This scholarship program is about offering the support and opportunity for refugees to really make a difference at school, work and in the community.
“This scholarship reflects Allianz’s absolute commitment to diversity. We know that a diverse workforce is a better workforce.”
Earlier this year Allianz recruited nine new employees from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Vietnam, who came to Australia as refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
“As I said at the start of this partnership, Allianz and SSI both have a vision of playing a key support role in the community in the areas of education, employment and addressing social justice issues,” Ms Roumeliotis said.
“Today, I’m proud of what that partnership has achieved so far, which is a new future for the new Allianz recruits and, through these scholarships, 46 more people will be given the opportunity that education offers,” Ms Roumeliotis added.
For more information and application forms, please go to ssi.org.au/scholarships
Application forms for each category can be downloaded from the category page. The application deadline is October 31, 2016, with successful applicants being notified in December.
For more information and interview opportunities, contact:
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Settlement Services International
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