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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

Oula’s Story

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is celebrating Refugee Week 2017 with a series highlighting the success of humanitarian entrants. STARTTS’ own Oula Nader has been recognized for her remarkable tale of resilience and success.


Forced to leave her homeland in Syria, Oula fled to Lebanon, where she applied for a Humanitarian Visa to Australia. her acceptance in 2014 was a bittersweet moment for her, as she tells in her story:

“When I received my visa at the Australian Embassy in Beirut I felt numb, I couldn’t cry and I couldn’t laugh. I was sad to leave my country and loved ones behind. I was thinking of the difficulties I may face; starting everything from scratch but at the same time I felt a sense of hope as I’d have a future in a safe country and be able to build my life again,” Oula said.

oula-blog3Oula  studied for a Bachelor of Psychology and a Masters in Special Education in Syria and worked  as a psychologist  to help those in need. She arrived in Australia  with  little to no English, but embraced the opportunity to begin her new life and learn and contribute to her new home.

“When I arrived in Australia I couldn’t speak English and had limited ability to read or write it. It was very important to me to learn and speak English in order to adjust to the Australian society, start my new life and be able to work. I attended the English classes for a couple of months and my first English spoken words were ‘no worries’”.

Oula’s improved English and her need to help others saw her volunteering as a social worker, and led her to employment at STARTTS as an Intake Counsellor.

“I used to work as a psychologist with refugees in Syria. Working with refugees in my home country gave me a great chance to learn a lot from their experiences and how they were able to use their strengths and resilience to adjust and resettle. In Australia I wanted to continue to work with refugees,” Oula said.


STARTTS  CEO Jorge Aroche recognized the outstanding qualities that Oula brought to STARTTS.

“Oula is a terrific asset to the organisation as she came to us with both the qualifications and a background that can relate to many of our clients. Her contribution to newly resettled refugees living with the impacts of trauma and torture is vital in allowing them to heal and integrate into society,”

Looking to the future, Oula hopes to continue in her work helping those in need.

“I hope to have my overseas qualifications recognised in Australia and am thinking about applying to do my PhD. I’d also like to fundraise to send money back to Syria to help those who lost limbs in the war and are unable to flee,” Oula said.

Watch Oula’s Story here.

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