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

TechFugees Hackathon supports newly arrived refugees

Refugees and asylum seekers can soon expect to benefit from a smart phone app that helps to create goals and achievement pathways, thanks to the joint efforts of developers, refugees and the start-up community at the first TechFugees Australia Hackathon.

Hosted at Liverpool City Library on November 28-29, the event saw over 150 technology engineers, entrepreneurs, refugees and service providers come together to develop innovations that help refugees integrate into the community.

Working alongside current and former refugees supported by STARTTS and SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program, developers and entrepreneurs were tasked with creating solutions that address issues such as language acquisition, community integration, housing support and employment.

Ten solutions were created over the two-day event, including apps to minimise skills gaps, portals to help orientate newcomers in specific locations, and an app to help refugees and asylum seekers with English language skills.

An app which helps refugees to create and achieve goals was recognised as the winning solution by a panel of six judges including SSI Ignite Enterprise Facilitator Dina Petrakis and Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun. Called Goalify, the app helps refugees to voice their goals and create tailored pathways to help them achieve small milestones. Based on a similar solution in the UK, the app allows case managers to work alongside refugees to monitor and support their progress, and provide referrals where necessary. It is now being developed into a comprehensive app with the support of SSI and STARTTS.
Ourtable – a platform which invites community members to host and promote shared food events – came in second place. While Arrival Hub – an app to help familiarise people with local services – received an honourable mention.

SSI Chief Executive Officer Violet Roumeliotis congratulated the winning team and acknowledged the efforts of all participants for working towards innovative solutions.
“To many of us in the humanitarian sector, the concept of a hackathon is something new. But like all of our colleagues in the sector, we are always looking for new ways to support vulnerable communities,” she said.
“We have been humbled and inspired to see such innovative solutions emerge from the TechFugees Australia Hackathon, and we are impressed by the overwhelming support for refugees and asylum seekers who have so much to contribute to Australian society.”

STARTTS Acting Chief Executive Officer Lachlan Murdoch said the event exceeded expectations by delivering an array of practical and innovative solutions to support the settlement of refugees in Australia. “As an organisation that works with trauma survivors, we see any technology that assists people to regain control of their lives as hugely valuable, and the winning team is certainly an example of that,” he said. “One of the other great things about the Hackathon was that it encouraged communication between people of refugee background and other community members who might not normally meet refugees. It was a fantastic event in so many ways.”

Event organiser, Anne-Marie Elias, added that the collaborative efforts of not-for-profit organisations and the technology and start-up communities delivered pleasing results for refugees and the broader community.
“Technology and entrepreneurism are the way to help solve big problems, and we proved that on the weekend with the wonderful ideas that came out of collaborating with refugees and case workers,” she said.

Planning for a refugee women hackathon is now underway, with the event to be supported by female entrepreneurs and technology developers.

Click HERE to view all of the technology solutions which were created during the TechFugees Australia Hackathon.

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