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Scholarship inspires change and rewards hard work

The Hornsby branch of an international women’s organisation has embraced this year’s ‘inspiring change’ theme for International Women’s Day by presenting its first scholarship to a western Sydney high school student.   Fifteen-year-old Zahraa Habeeb from Blacktown is the recipient of the inaugural Soroptimist International (Hornsby club) education scholarship. Supported by Settlement Services International (SSI), […]

POSTPONED: Fairfield HSS team and clients get hands dirty to clean community

Staff and clients from the SSI Humanitarian Settlement Services team in Fairfield are going to “do the right thing, put it in the bin” this Tuesday. The group will volunteer its time to take part in the annual Clean Up Australia event, which aims to “keep Australia beautiful”. Acting Team Leader Nedhal Amir said staff […]

Jam sessions at SSI Community Kitchen

 Musicians from any musical tradition or cultural background are invited to join jam sessions with SSI asylum seeker clients at the organisation’s Community Kitchen every fortnight. The SSI Community Kitchen initiative is part cooking class, part social outing for community-based asylum seekers. The fortnightly Community Kitchen provides a social day out for community-based asylum seekers, many of whom experience social and cultural isolation. Clients are invited to learn how to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal, as well as interact with other community members by jamming, playing a game of soccer, playing cards or chess, and sharing a meal. Each fortnight from 80 to 250 clients attend the Community Kitchen. The idea of incorporating jam sessions into the Community Kitchen program arose as more and more clients were keen to perform for their friends. A donation of a number of musical instruments through the Music for Refugees project, led by Mr Philip Feinstein, sealed the deal. Using music as a universal language, the sessions are expected to create an opportunity for skills building, cross-cultural exchange and community sharing with fellow musicians and other CSP clients. Depending on the level of participation and interest by guest musicians and clients, the jam sessions might evolve into a stand-alone activity available at other locations and times. Each Community Kitchen targets a different cultural group (for example, Persian, Arab or Women and Families) and the invitation is extended to relevant established community groups and leaders to attend and connect with those more newly arrived.

Knox Grammar Old Boys find a level playing field with refugees and people seeking asylum

Soccer is proving to be a great unifier for refugees, people seeking refugee status and Australian communities. Refugees and people claiming asylum who are supported by Settlement Services International (SSI) were joined by Knox Grammar School alumni on the weekend to take part in a soccer knock-out competition.  SSI is a leading not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, accommodation, asylum seeker assistance and multicultural foster care in NSW. About 40 people took part in the knock-out soccer competition at Lidcombe between teams of five, which was organised by SSI staff on Saturday, February 15. Also taking part in the competition were about six members of the Knox Grammar Old Boys alumni. SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the former Knox Grammar students had asked her organisation how they could support new arrivals. “It was very inspiring to see how proactive the boys from Knox Grammar School were in wanting to support people who have come to Australia from very difficult circumstances,” Ms Roumeliotis said. “One of the school’s alumni, Marco van Westing, approached SSI and asked how he and his friends could help refugees, and those people applying for refugee status, make the transition to living in Australia. “When staff at SSI proposed a soccer competition for our clients, the Knox Grammar Old Boys thought it was a great opportunity for them to get involved.

Olympic judo coach helps teenage asylum seekers

Talented teenagers Shaheen and Hussain Moghadamshaidie could represent NSW in judo at the National Championships if they can raise the money to travel to qualifying competitions around the country. The boys, aged 15 and 16, have already impressed state and national coaches after Settlement Services International (SSI) and their Castle Hill judo club supported their enthusiasm to participate in the Olympic sport. SSI is a leading not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, accommodation, asylum seeker assistance and foster care in NSW. Hussain and his brother Shaheen have been living in the community along with their father, mother and baby brother, awaiting the outcome of an application for refugee status since July last year. The family is supported by SSI and is currently living in North Parramatta on bridging visas. SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said Shaheen and Hussain had immediately wanted to start judo training when they arrived in Australia but their family had no money to pay for registration or uniforms. “Judo is one of the most popular sports in the boys’ country of birth, Iran, so they were eager to look for a judo club to train with in Australia,” Ms Roumeliotis said. “Because they are on bridging visas, their parents are unable to work and had limited funds to pay for judo costs. “Shaheen and Hussain were lucky enough to find the Budokan Judo Club in Castle Hill, which is run by former Olympic coach and organiser of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games judo competition Rob Katz. “Mr Katz and his club have very generously sponsored the boys by paying their costs for the first 12 months of membership. This includes four judo uniforms partially sponsored by the club’s supplier Sensei’ Martial Arts. “But, from the boy’s success in the sport, the family now needs about $700 to pay for travel and accommodation to events in order to qualify for the National Championships.” Ali Moghadamshaidie, the boys’ father, said Mr Katz and the Budokan Judo Club had treated them like family. “This club is not only for Judo,” he said, “this club, for me and my sons, my wife and baby son, is like a school or family.” “We have no family here or friends, this club is very good for us.”

Joy from toys for girls and boys

Settlement Service International’s youngest clients will receive hundreds of toys over the coming weeks thanks to the generosity of local Department of Human Services staff. The idea of a toy drive for refugee families came to the department’s Mount Druitt Multicultural Services Officer David Jacquin while he was making room for new Christmas gifts for […]

Soccer unites refugees but who will give them a game?

Soccer is often called the game that unites the world but a group of refugees and asylum seekers from around the globe have found financial obstacles in their attempt to unite as a team in Sydney. Players in the team unofficially known as Auburn United FC have come to Australia from Afghanistan, Africa, Nepal, Turkey and Tajikistan to find asylum. According to Settlement Services International (SSI) CEO Violet Roumeliotis, most of the team members are on bridging visas, which means they are unable to work. SSI provides case management and other support services to many of the refugee and asylum seeker members of the team. Other players are full-time overseas students. “Living on a tight budget, these players have no funds to pay registration fees of between $200 and $300 each to join an organised competition,” Ms Roumeliotis said. “Without support from a sponsor, they have no hope of playing the world game in Australia.” Their options for engaging in Sydney’s cultural life are limited but they come together to play soccer, or football to most of the world, every week. Until eight months ago, they formed only ad-hoc to play with whoever turned up to Auburn Park on any given night. But when Afghan asylum seeker and soccer coach Essa Khan, 44, found them kicking a ball in the dark while out walking, he quickly rounded them up in to a team. “It’s my passion and I like to give something to the young people,” Essa said with his Settlement Services International case manager Archana Ghale interpreting. “It helps their health, they can engage in an activity and avoid anti-social behaviour. “It’s better to play football than to get involved in alcohol or drugs.”

Refugee boy battles war trauma on first day of school

Like most children, Noran Zahrooni was terrified of starting school today. But it wasn’t teachers or lessons that had him anxious. The six-year-old and his family arrived in Australia late last year after fleeing war-torn Syria. Father Farhan Zahrooni told SBS his son was traumatised by the conflict and struggled to understand he was now […]

Lunar New Year celebrations bring in Year of the Horse

The New Year period of the lunar calendar starts today, Friday, January 24, and is considered by many Asian cultures as a time for people to gather as families and reflect on positive times ahead.