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Working with Refugees

Australia is a major re-settlement country for refugees, offering re-settlement to people requiring humanitarian protection. For many refugees this can be a very difficult time, with feelings of homesickness, isolation and culture shock compounding people's abilities to start a new life in Australia.
Rotary can help to address the special needs for vocational and social assistance for groups with various disadvantages.

Significant issues include:
  • High unemployment.
  • Housing issues.
  • English language barriers.
  • Effects of torture and trauma.
  • General health issues.

One of the best ways that Rotary can work with refugees is via local Non-Government Organizations.

Some possible projects include:

Mentoring families  -  Becoming a trusted friend (a mentor). Rotarians can give advice with budgeting, assist in understanding school reports or helping to interpret letters from a government organisation.
Helping with homework/study skills programs  -  Parents are often not able to give help to student children because they have not had a high level of education themselves or because their English is at a lower level than their child's.
Driver support  -  Assistance in achieving the number of driving hours necessary to getting a car license.
Citizenship classes  -  Assisting with the study required to pass the test for citizenship in Australia.
Furniture, household goods, clothing  -  Organizing to provide good second-hand items when needed.
Mentoring for small business
Assistance with essential travel  -  Assisting refugees in travelling to medical, legal appointments and job interviews.

It is important and far more effective that Rotarians work through their local Non- Government Organisations, rather than trying to start a program from the beginning. This makes it possible for Rotarians to step back once the program organisation is taken over by non-Rotarians.

Rotarians have a great opportunity here to assist, mentor and become involved in helping refugees and new arrivals to our country to become part of the local community. Perhaps it should be remembered that as leaders of the community we are guardians of these people.

"Refugee families require assistance in adapting to meet the challenges of entering the Australian workforce."

District 9790 thanks Jan McDonald and PP Andrew Treadwell, from the Rotary Club of Bundoora, for their contributions and commitment to the refugee assistance program in the Whittlesea Shire over a significant number of years. 

July 2022