Thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees find home in Australia
2300 Syrian and Iraqi refugees are already resettled in Australia since the government committed to take an extra 12,000 in September 2015
A spokesperson from the Department of Social Services (DSS) told Eternity that 2300 Syrian and Iraqi refugees are already resettled Australia, as part of the government’s commitment to take an additional 12,000 refugees from Iraq and Syria.
The first to arrive – a Syrian family of five – was settled in Perth in November 2015, and by March 2016 that number had only grown to 29. Since then, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of refugees arriving into Australia. A spokesperson from the DSS says there are a further 3400 refugees in possession of visas that will enable them to resettle here.
“[refugees] need to have a sense of safety; that they’re now in a situation where they are physically, emotionally and psychologically safe.”
Christian charity Anglicare has been preparing the community for the arrival of the refugees by running training days aimed at educating people about why people become refugees and how to understand people from different cultures. They are also briefing the community on the common issues that will be faced by many of the refugees.
Cheryl Webster, Anglicare’s parish refugee and migrant outreach worker, says there are lots of issues that newly arrived refugees face. “Commonly they have health and mental health issues related to torture and trauma. This includes coping with loss.
“Language can also be an issue, and cultural differences are always a big thing. Many refugees will also need help finding accommodation and gaining secure employment.”
One of the biggest needs among recently settled refugees is that, “they need to have a sense of safety; that they’re now in a situation where they are physically, emotionally and psychologically safe,” says Webster.
This is where local Aussies can step in. Friendship is what most Australians will be equipped to offer these refugees, and help with the little tasks like what to buy at the shops, how to get on the bus and how to use money.
Andrew Pyman is living in western Sydney (where many of the newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers will settle) and trying to reach out to refugees and asylum seekers who are unlikely to ever come to a church.
“The obvious need [for refugees] is language, but second to that is community,” says Pyman. “They don’t necessarily have family in Australia, and they have a real need to belong.
“For us Aussies – and particularly as Christians – we can give them the opportunity to become our friends, to go to the beach with us, and to come into our homes. We can give them a taste of what Australia is like,” says Pyman.
Webster says that over 200 people have attended the training courses that Anglicare has been running, and she hopes that at the end of it, people will be prepared to work with refugees in their communities.