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2021 NSW Humanitarian Award Citations

Best Project

An outstanding project working with or assisting refugees. The project can be run by an individual group or organisation and can either be ongoing or completed during the last year.

Awarded to Lakemba Rohingya Interagency
Canterbury City Community Centre

The Lakemba Rohingya Interagency was initiated to link non-government and government agencies working across the welfare, health and education sectors, with members from the Burmese Rohingya Community Australia to share information, collaborate on projects to improve health, well-being and educational outcomes, and increase connections to local services.

Since commencing in November 2017 the interagency has brought together fifteen services that assist the needs of the Rohingya community with a strong emphasis on the involvement of schools and family support.

The Interagency is an excellent example of coordination of refugee resettlement on a local level. Inclusion of people with lived experience further strengthens grassroots community engagement and ensures community take up of services.

Highly Commended

Settlement Services International
SSI Care Packages Program

The SSI Care Package Program was established in March 2020 in response to the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns. SSI delivered the program with support of Oz Harvest.

The COVID-19 shutdowns had a particularly devastating impact on individuals and families seeking asylum or living in Australia on temporary visas. Without access to the federal government’s Jobkeeper and Jobseeker payments many families could not put food on the table, pay their bills and were at real risk of sleeping rough.

SSI Care packages were provided to those in need for free and provided them with complete household groceries and essentials for between one and two weeks.

Since May 2020, 1,137 households have been provided with care packages, including single adults, young families and women at risk.

Refugee Supporter

A member of the broader Australian community, of any background, supporting and assisting refugees in any capacity, in either a paid or unpaid position.

Dr David Wynter

For over 15 years, Dr Wynter has worked to address the complex physical, mental and social health needs of the Tibetan refugee community on the Northern Beaches. To assist large numbers of Tibetan refugees arriving in a short period of time, he established refugee clinics in his practice with the assistance of an onsite health care interpreter.

During high volume settlement periods, his practice is closed to other patients two afternoons a week to enable him to conduct comprehensive health assessments for the new arrivals. The culturally sensitive health assessments combined with assertive follow up, have been very successful in the early detection and management of numerous health issues in the Tibetan community.

It is estimated that David has conducted over 1,000 health assessments for Tibetan refugees. 100% of the refugee patients who had their first appointment with David in the last 15 years, continue to attend appointments with him for the remainder of the health assessment program. Many of the Tibetan refugees continue to see Dr Wynter as their preferred General Practitioner after exiting the program. In 2019 Dr Wynter was recognized by the Tibetan Community of NSW for his services. Recently he has established a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for elderly Tibetan community members and vaccination clinics for Tibetan children.

Dr Wynter has provided holistic services to Tibetan refugees that go above and beyond services usually provided by a General Practitioner.

Highly Commended

Fiona Carr

Ms Carr has worked as a volunteer with the Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency since 2008.

She has applied for grants and implemented and managed projects to assist the resettlement of horn of African refugees in Australia ranging from swimming programs for young African refugees, employment projects for unemployed African women and social programs for families.

Every year over 100 children from refugee backgrounds learn how to swim and some have gone onto earning a bronze medallion and became swimming instructors. Ms Carr has also managed an employment project that has led to many of the women it supports securing employment.

As part of her commitment to the work of the Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency she has travelled to Kenya and Uganda to oversee projects. She is a committed and relentless supporter of refugees.

Refugee Community Worker

A former refugee working on refugee issues with their own or other refugee communities, in either a paid or unpaid position.

Mohammad Reza Rostami

Mr Rostami coordinated a major research study into the mental health impacts of Australia’s migration policies on Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers who had arrived by boat. His research revealed that children, whose families had experienced the uncertainty of life on bridging visas for up to 7 years, suffered almost double the rates of psychosocial difficulties as those with permanent residency.

In campaigning tirelessly for the rights of children of asylum seekers, Mr Rostami speaks from his own family’s experience as boat arrivals who made their way to Australia in 2013 and spent 12 months in detention.

In coordinating his research with over 400 community members over the last four years, Mr Rostami has taken on an informal role as a community advocate. He has done so in response to the needs of people in the community who have required informal, culturally sensitive support to help them find ways to build new lives while also living with visa insecurity and lack of access to services because of their asylum status.

Highly Commended

Basim Shamaon

Since arriving from war-torn Iraq in 2005, Mr Shamaon has volunteered with more than twenty organisations in his mission to support and empower refugees.

He is a highly respected and valued employee at Navitas English where he  connects with businesses and community organisations, listening to their needs and responding with innovative solutions. Mr Shamaon ensures programs and courses such as English language, digital skills, employment training and settlement services are delivered with positive outcomes for participants.

In 2019 Mr Shamaon trained a group of recently arrived people from refugee backgrounds to run fundraising projects for drought relief and to buy food and clothes for vulnerable members of the community at Christmas.

Since the onset of COVID-19,  he has initiated several projects to offer support on-line and in person to refugee communities in the Fairfield area.

Youth

A young person aged 12-25 of refugee background making an outstanding contribution to Australian society in their chosen field.

Abdallah Altibi

Mr Altibi has been volunteering in support of young people from refugee backgrounds over the last four years as well as undertaking work through paid positions.

Since arriving in Australia in 2014, he studied English at the Bankstown Intensive English Centre for one year and then completed a Bachelor of Social Work from Western Sydney University.

Mr Altibi joined the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia (MYAN) as a Youth Ambassador in 2017. He completed his social work placement with the Network in 2019 and took up a role as a full-time Multicultural Support Worker assisting young people on temporary visas.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic Mr Altibi undertook various activities in support of isolated young including making available secondhand laptops to get young people connected on line and referring young people to mental health support and counsellors.

In the last 6 years, Mr Altibi has also worked with Settlement Services International and the Lebanese Muslim Association, to help young people get the support they need to thrive as they build new lives in New South Wales.

Rural & Regional

Organisations or individuals working in regional areas of NSW to assist refugees.

Bindee Jobe

As the Deputy Principal at Kooringal High School in Wagga, Ms Jobe has quickly and effectively made her school known as an exceptionally supportive environment for refugee students.

In particular, students from Yazidi backgrounds, a group that has been heavily persecuted in Northern Iraq, have benefitted from initiatives that have been put in place at the school. Many attend the weekly “study hub”, a homework centre for all Kooringal High students..

To aide emotional development and assist in healing from traumatic experiences, Ms Jobe and her colleagues developed a well-being program for students from refugee backgrounds allowing students to receive emotional support and other assistance from the well-being team.

With Ms Jobe’s leadership, the school has accelerated the integration of students from refugee backgrounds, improving their sense of belonging, and supporting their well-being.

Education

Schools, universities and other educational institutions, or individuals working at such institutions, who assist former refugees by breaking down barriers to education.

Eva Atkins

Ms Atkins is a Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Coordinator at TAFE NSW who has worked with CORE Community Services and South West Sydney Local Health District to design a program promoting career pathways in the health industry for people from a refugee background.

The program provided students with the opportunity to complete a relevant skill set from the training package and attend a series of workshops facilitated by the Health District.

To maximise opportunities to gain employment, Ms Atkins organised work placement at a local hospital. In addition, sixteen students commenced a course in Business Administration – Medical in 2021, with plans for four more health programs to be delivered in Semester Two.

Recently, Ms Atkins presented the model to Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and managers at Nepean Hospital and will support her work colleagues to replicate the program for refugee groups across Western Sydney.

Her genuine commitment and dedication to linking education with meaningful employment pathways for people from refugee backgrounds has been widely acknowledged.

Media

Media outlets, journalists or media officers supporting, prioritising and/or raising awareness of refugee issues.

‘Temporary’

Lauren Martin, UNSW’s Kaldor Centre
Kara Jensen-Mackinnon, UNSW Centre for Ideas
Miles Martignoni, Guardian Australia

The  podcast ‘Temporary’ is a collaboration initiated by the University of New South Wales’ Kaldor Centre with the university’s Centre for Ideas and Guardian Australia. ‘Temporary’ reveals the hidden lives of people who fled to Australia seeking protection, and places the voices of refugees and people seeking asylum front and centre, focusing on those subject to the temporary protection regime which affects some 30,000 people in Australia.

The podcast’s composer is a person seeking asylum in Australia and its host and series logo designer come from refugee backgrounds.

‘Temporary’ used an ethical approach that respected those who shared their stories and was sensitive to any vulnerabilities they may face. The Refugee Advice & Casework Service helped to identify and provide prospective storytellers with initial advice, then referred them for independent, third-party legal advice, to ensure their full and informed consent to participate.

The podcast and website seamlessly integrate first-person human experience with expert legal explanation.

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