Refugee Support Services

Settlement Services International (SSI) supports humanitarian entrants after their arrival in Australia. SSI and its staff do not resettle refugees residing outside of Australia and do not charge or take money for doing so.

If you are outside Australia and have experienced past persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution in your home country, you may be able to apply for refugee status, allowing you to come to Australia. People who are outside Australia can apply to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in their locality.

The majority of people who are provided protection by Australia are processed through its Humanitarian Program. The offshore program processes people who have been given refugee status by the UNHCR and people who have been sponsored by Australian citizens or permanent residents or Australian-based community organisations.


Beware of scams and resettlement fraud

All resettlement services by UNHCR and the International Organisation of Migration are free. It is fraud if anyone asks to be paid for these services or if they ask for a favour for these services.

In Australia, only certain people can provide immigration assistance: a registered migration agent, a legal practitioner or an exempt person.

Only a registered migration agent or legal practitioner may charge applicants a fee for their help. It is unlawful to charge a fee if you are an exempt person or otherwise outside the categories of registered migration agent and legal practitioner.

Find out more about resettlement fraud here.

Complain about scams here.


SSI’s HSP services focus on the whole needs of the person – including health and wellbeing. SSI offers many programs designed to meet new arrivals’ specific health needs, such as offering information and support to help refugees quit smoking, in partnership with refugee health services.

Supporting vulnerable women to connect with their peers and develop lasting meaningful connections helps to reduce the risk of isolation and anxiety during the early stage of settlement. SSI has a unique Women at Risk service model that includes support from specialised case managers, bilingual guides and mentors; tailored orientation sessions; and innovative initiatives such as employment workshops and partnerships with external information providers.

All HSP staff receive specialist training enabling them to keep young people motivated and energised when they are at their most vulnerable in the early stages of settlement. Along with a tailored information guide and regular youth activities, SSI offers youth orientation sessions that cover important issues for young people such as health, tenancy rights and obligations, and money management.

HSP case managers ensure that learning English is a top priority for all new arrivals by connecting refugees with age-appropriate learning support, such as ESL classes and NAVITAS lessons. Staff members speak more than 80 languages, so there is a strong focus on in-language support, which sets the foundation for solid relationships between case managers and refugees.

SSI works in partnership with businesses and all stakeholders, including the private sector, to connect refugees to employers and to build their local skills and capacity. The HSP team proactively looks for opportunities to link newly arrived community members with skills recognition courses to help them get the best start to life in Australia. SSI also offers internal job readiness programs to teach new arrivals about the local employment market and help them prepare to enter the workforce.

At SSI, we recognise the critical role the community plays in successful settlement. Community groups who want to learn more about refugees and extend a gesture of welcome, such as a picnic or an excursion to a favourite local site, are encouraged. To ensure these activities are meaningful and suitable for newcomers, please check-in with SSI during the planning phase.

Community members are also encouraged to get involved with refugee resettlement is by volunteering with SSI. Our volunteers:

  • Provide social support
  • Help with English practice
  • Assist with events and excursions
  • Provide employment mentoring
  • Create social connections
  • And much more!

To get involved, visit:

SSI will provide settlement support to refugees. This includes airport pick-ups, short-term accommodation, health assessments, linkages to education, English and employment support providers, and orientation to the local community. Refugees are also encouraged to take part in a range of social and community engagement activities to help them integrate into the community. By supporting refugees through the early days in Australia, SSI aims to improve their social and economic participation and, ultimately, sets refugees up to live independent lives in Australia.

SSI works hand-in-hand with the community and local organisations to help refugees to settle. Continued support from the community is critical to ensuring refugees feel at home in Armidale. This support can take many forms. It might be volunteering with SSI, offering a friendly smile at the supermarket, or holding an event to welcome refugees to their new home.

Everyone who comes to Australia as a refugee must pass a series of rigorous health, character and security checks before being granted a visa. These are just regular people who, through no fault of their own, have been forced to leave behind their homes and everything they know in search of safety