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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors
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Humanitarian Awards 2016

Best Project

Turkan Aksoy (Bankstown City Council)

Youth StepUP was developed as a partnership with local organisation to support refugee and migrant youth.  Youth StepUP focuses on providing a cultural bridge into the Australian Labour Market, equipping refugee and migrant youth with the tools they need to find their way in this sometimes complicated system they need to navigate. The primary aim is to strengthen soft skills development in young job seekers increasing their opportunities to attain employment. Youth StepUP aims to increase awareness amongst local community groups about educational and training opportunities. By familiarising them with key players in the work environment such as Unions, Human Resources, Industrial relations and other departments that can assist them, they become empowered in their journey. Youth StepUp also provides opportunities of youth to attain employable soft skills such as body language, presentation skills and cultural awareness training.Youth StepUP will endeavor to bring any current updates on training in soft skills, cultural awareness, communication skills and educational support through this webpage and our Apps.

Youth StepUP will endeavour to bring any current updates on training in soft skills, cultural awareness, communication skills and educational support through this webpage and our Apps. We will also provide links to appropriate employment support sites.

This innovative Project now supports over 500+ local refugee youth in Western Suburbs and is viewed in over 79 Countries worldwide. Connecting refugee providers and services directly to young people who at times struggles to engage.  The project is one of a kind and addresses a gap in the sector.  Youth StepUP was created as a direct result of high unemployment rates amongst youth in Bankstown. The youth unemployment rate in Sydney’s east is only 4.1 per cent, while Canterbury-Bankstown in the west is the city’s worst-affected area, with an unemployment rate of 19.1 per cent for people aged 15-24. The national youth unemployment rate is 11.6 per cent, compared with a national unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent. The project provides direct training to job seekers from refugee backgrounds and incorporates their specific needs regarding employment and educational pathways.


Green Camel

An integrated fish and crop farm located in Western Sydney. Using organic farming techniques,  the team pride themselves on nurturing the crops and fish at Green Camel so when picked they are of top quality and freshness.

The farm employing refugees, tailoring employment to suit single parents (former women at risk) promoting from within provision of English programs and translated materials.

Legal and Government

Alanna Maycock

Alanna, Refugee Coordinator at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, helps assess and treat refugee health and wellbeing, including screening for diseases, malnutrition, wounds from torture or violence, mental health, and immunisation.

The Refugee Clinic, established in 2005, is seeing increasing numbers of refugee families and has tripled the number of children receiving health screenings.


Abdul Karim Hekmat

Bringing humanity back to the people who have been dehumanised by the policies of our Government, by telling his own story of persecution and asylum, and shining a light on the most grave indecencies the current system has caused to innocent people, who came here seeking only safety and protection

As a leader in his community, in his commitment to shine a light on the personal horrors that have been caused by the policy of mandatory, indefinite detention, as a board member for the Refugee Council of Australia, as an advocate for peace, as a man committed to standing up for those who are downtrodden and as a champion for truth, compassion and justice for those without power, Abdul is unparalleled.

Community Worker

Awatif Al Khalmashi

Awatif has a long history of community development with the Mandaean community. She has held a number of roles including as President of the Mandaean Women’s Association a role she held from 2010 to 2013. Before that she was a member of the MWA Committee from 2006. During that time she was instrumental in obtaining a number of grants for the MWA including from the Law & Justice Foundation for a monthly visit from a lawyer to explain aspects of Australian law; from Fairfield Council for a museum exhibition on Mandaean culture; from Dept of Sport & Recreation for swimming, acqua aerobics, gym training for the women; from Community Relations Commission for a New Year’s celebration to which members of Vietnamese and Assyrian communities were invited.

Awatif has also been an important member of the FICT facilitator team, seeking out members of the Mandaean and broader Arabic speaking communities to join FICT groups. In the past six years Awatif has facilitated more than 15 groups. She has recently also been trained as an Older people in Cultural transition (OPICT) facilitator and has run numerous groups for older members of her community. In addition she is an experienced Bilingual Community Educator (BCE) for NSW Health delivering at least two programs a year numerous programs for Arabic speaking women since 2007.

She is a representative of the Mandaean Associations Union.

At the heart of all these activities is Awatif’s deep commitment to helping members of her community to overcome their stress and trauma, reduce their social isolation, celebrate their culture, learn about Australian culture and enjoy themselves.


Anne and Rob Porter (JRS volunteers)

Two of our longest serving and hardest working volunteers are Anne and Rob Porter, who have been volunteering with Jesuit Refugee Service for more than 6 years, supporting asylum seekers living in the community.  During this time, Anne has served as a Volunteer Coordinator (focussing on the Blaiket Shelter and JRS head office) interviewing and placing volunteers, rostering cooks for the shelter house meetings, and ensuring that volunteers feel supported.  While Rob has served as House Manager for the Blaiket Shelter, running house meetings, fixing maintenance issues, and providing support and friendship to the many asylum seekers who have passed through our doors.

As JRS services have expanded to include 2 drop-in spaces in Parramatta, Anne has also taken on the role of Receptionist for our Friday RACS Legal Clinic and Rob has taken on more responsibilities at the shelter.

Anne and Rob are a phenomenal couple.  Their dedication and commitment to JRS continues to amaze and inspire staff and clients.  There is no task that is beyond them and there are very few occasions when they are unavailable to help, with Rob often taking calls after hours when people have locked themselves out their rooms at the men’s shelter or when there is an urgent maintenance issue to attend to.

In addition to their dedication, it is Anne and Rob’s compassion and kindness that is truly exceptional.  They are both passionate about the rights of asylum seekers, including the right to live with dignity and to be treated as equals.  One of the fundamental principles and approaches of JRS is that of accompaniment, or journeying with people. In accompanying the people we work with, JRS recognises and acknowledges their humanity, a collective human condition that is often overlooked in asylum seekers by the people, institutions and policies they encounter as they progress on their journeys.  Anne and Rob fully embody this principle in their interactions and support for the people we serve.

Rural and Regional

Alex Riske

Alex Riske is an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher at Orara High School, Coffs Harbour in regional New South Wales. He’s a humble, hardworking individual who passionately goes above and beyond to support students. In particular, Alex has put countless hours into producing 2 incredible projects in 2012 and 2015 that have allowed refugee students’ artistic potential to shine. Both projects: “Before today and forever” and “Original Spirit – Inner Worlds” brought to light inspiring artwork and powerful personal stories of refugee students from the Coffs Harbour area. Alex exhibited the students’ artwork at the Bunker Gallery, co-ordinated entertaining, culturally diverse opening nights with student performances and produced 2 magnificent books featuring these projects. In 2016, Alex is working on a new project “Gunganbu” (Gumbayngirr for a special place of belonging) which is an end of year concert with refugee, Indigenous and disabled students performances in celebration of their sense of connection to Galambirla (Coffs Harbour). Alex is a truly inspiring educator who would be a well deserving recipient of an award such as this.


LEAP (Macquarie Mentoring program)

The LEAP – Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) program engages volunteer university student mentors, many of whom themselves come from refugee and migrant backgrounds, who are matched with high school students from refugee backgrounds for weekly peer to peer mentoring sessions in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in the schools.

A flexible three-part framework allows mentors to tailor the program to the individual needs and interests of their mentees in exploring opportunities available in Australian higher education, covering topics such as goal setting, time management, career pathways and the university environment , run over 11 weeks per semester.   Mentors receive intensive training in working with adolescents from refugee backgrounds, intercultural communication and coaching skills, and are supported by program coordinators throughout.  The program also engages parents and caregivers of the students, and all participants visit the University campus for a fun-filled celebration each semester.

Through mentoring, the program aims to broaden the aspiration of students and support their investigation of, and successful transition into, higher education. As this is a needs based program the areas of focus are mentee led with the overall aim of the program to:

  1. Develop confidence, resilience and agency
  2. Develop study and research skills
  3. Broaden aspirations towards further study
  4. Develop awareness of school and university cultures in the Australian context
  5. Empower students to make informed decisions about educational pathways

To date 987 high school students from refugee backgrounds have benefitted from participation in the program.


Football United

Football United uses the magic of football to bring people together for the common goal of creating harmonious and cohesive societies. We aim to build capacity of communities and improve the skills of people in diverse areas that includes high proportions of refugee, migrant and Indigenous Australian children, youth and families.


Piath Machut

Piath Machut is a great role model to the South Sudanese Youth, she is actively involved in organising and preparing events in the South Sudanese community, she devotes a lot of her time serving her community. An example of this would be her tireless efforts to continue running the Dinka women’s support group. After a church service one afternoon some women in the community approached Piath and made her aware of some of some of the issues they are currently facing in hope that she may be able to help. This resulted in Piath starting the Dinka women’s support group which she does voluntarily once a month. Volunteering once a week at STARTTS enables her to successfully run the group. This support group is an opportunity for the Dinka women to come together and discuss an issue that they are currently facing such as generational gap, cross-cultural strains, health and budgeting and finance. This is has also provided a great opportunity to create awareness and encourage social cohesion within the community. As South Sudanese women from all tribes are welcome to come and socialise and have their voices and opinions heard as well as have their questions answered.

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