Access CEO Gail Ker with SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis
While Access will come under the umbrella of SSI, it will continue to provide the same valuable local and state-wide services for clients in Queensland.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said, “This is a great alliance which will build on the already strong collaboration between our organisations and enable us to work together to deliver programs and services for clients and the community.
“Access has made a considerable contribution to the settlement and wellbeing of newly arrived Australians over the last three decades and we’re proud that we are joining forces, particularly as demands in the community grow.”
Gail Ker, who will continue as Access’ CEO and lead the team in Queensland, said, “The partnership with SSI is the start of a new chapter for Access and we are excited to be part of a larger community organisation that develops and delivers a broad range of services and programs for vulnerable communities.”
Access Community Services has decades of experience in the provision of settlement, employment, training, youth support services, housing and social enterprise opportunities with a focus on support for migrants, refugees and Australian-born clients, with services delivered across Queensland.
In order to achieve SSI’s vision of a society that values the diversity of its people, while supporting social and economic inclusion, we will continue to seek engagement within the migration sector and beyond.
Today the world is celebrating the International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD). In many ways this day, through celebrating and recognising the achievements of resilient people in our community, aligns with SSI’s core goal of building an inclusive society.
SSI has long recognised the need to support new members in our communities living with a disability.
Through programs like SSI Ability Links and SSI IgniteAbility we have enabled not only newcomers, but also all members of our community living with disability, to chart their own course. We’ve now experienced the thrill of seeing people with disability start and successfully run their own businesses, as well as seize opportunities to socialise and engage in inclusive activities within their community.
I’d also like to take the opportunity on this day of inclusion, hope and resilience to talk about some recent events of note.
On November 25, SSI reaffirmed its commitment to combating domestic violence through the United Nations campaign: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. We will be hosting morning teas and DV awareness training in November and December at our Sydney offices to learn about the impact of gender-based violence across all aspects of life, including in the workplace.
During the morning teas we will also launch the NSW Settlement Partnership Community of Practice on Domestic and Family Violence.
Since August this year, SSI has joined other progressive employers offering Domestic Violence Leave to our employees. This type of leave is a promise of financial security to those affected by domestic violence; those who may require time to resolve their situation without concern that it will affect their professional career.
I’d like to end by mentioning an overwhelmingly positive point in Australia’s journey towards social inclusion. On November 15 we celebrated the anniversary of the historical Same Sex Marriage vote, which resulted in legislation that affirms the right of every Australian to express their love and commitment through marriage. This resounding victory for social inclusion is, of course, in line with SSI’s own vision and mission.
The amended bill before the Senate will impose a four-year wait to access Newstart, hurting people most in need. It will also, for the first time, impose a one-year wait to access Family Tax Benefit Part A, which is a crucial payment for low-income families, including families without paid work and families on the minimum wage trying to give their children the best start in life.
Violet Roumeliotis, SSI CEO, said the proposed cuts would hurt already vulnerable communities at a time they needed support the most.
“Investing in new arrivals and offering support to vulnerable communities has been a key determinant of our success as a multicultural nation, contributing to social cohesion. There is no justification for cutting off support for people, including children and families, who are in financial need,” she said.
“In our experience, the great majority of migrant families hit the ground running and are keen to work and contribute but we do need a reasonable safety net for people.”
SSI urges Labor to join the Greens, Centre Alliance and Tim Storer in opposing the bill in the Senate, to protect people from falling further into poverty.