11 C
Byron Shire
May 23, 2024

Welcoming refugees into our community

Latest News

Homelessness service funded – but only for a year

With 2024 Street Count data indicating a 16 per-cent increase in rough sleepers in Byron Shire, the NSW government has responded to say that the previously-announced Assertive Outreach team will receive $1.3m in funding for a year.

Other News

Outdoor pickleball courts for Alstonville

Alstonville now boasts tournament-standard pickleball courts that opened to an enthusiastic crowd and players earlier this month. The eight new...

Fed gov’t doubles funds for local road repairs

Local governments across the state are to share in $1.2 billion worth of commonwealth funding for local roads over the next five years.

Mullum Road upgrade

Construction is expected to commence in December to improve the flood-prone Mullumbimby Road near Uncle Tom’s corner.

Northern Rivers will host the 2025 and 2027 NSW Bowls Championships

Ballina is set to host the 2025 and 2027 State Bowls Championships that will see over 900 competitors vying...

NSW Gov’t promises to fast-track super battery storage

State government investment in major battery projects across NSW is to be increased and fast-tracked, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Penny Sharpe said on Wednesday.

Brunswick 30 has been delivered to Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour

Following successful sea trials at Yamba the Brunswick 30 was delivered to Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour on Wednesday, May 15. 

Back row: Isabelle from OS4R, Essam (dad), Rahaf’s teacher Abelia Hissink from Brunswick Heads Public School, Rabiaa (grandmother), Kikki (OS4R), BHPS Principal Jodie Ridegeway. Front row: Kate (OS4R), seven-year-old Rahaf who moved here with her family from Syria, Douua (mum) and little brother Drgham. Photo Aslan Shand

Seven-year-old Kurdish refugee, Rahaf, moved to the area just over a year ago with her parents and younger brother. They are refugees from Syria and are supported by the Ocean Shores 4 Refugees (OS4R) group. 

Her grandmother, Rabiaa, was able to join them at the beginning of this year.

Isabelle Borrelli, who is a member of the OS4R group, and Vice President of the Ballina Region 4 Refugees speaking about welcoming refugees to Ocean Shores. Photo Aslan Shand

‘We were so excited to be the first group to welcome people here under CRISP (Community Refugee Sponsorship Program),’ said Isabelle Borrelli, who is a member of the OS4R group, and Vice President of the Ballina Region 4 Refugees (BR4R).

‘It started in our street, then went to our networks and we had up to nine women come on board,’ she told Monday’s gathering at the Lennox Head Cultural Centre. 

Governor General, David Hurley, was at the celebration of Refugee Week and World Refugee Day, reminding Australians that CRISP is about ‘helping people move from trauma to triumph’.

Isabelle Borrelli from OS4R, Jodie Ridgeway principal of BHPS, Gonenor General David Hurley, Rahaf’s teacher Abelia Hissink with Rahaf. Photo supplied

He said, ‘People have to reach out and connect people together. That is what CRISP is doing. Creating people-to-people links.’

The gathering heard from a number of refugees who had been welcomed to the region under the CRISP program who came from Syria and Venezuela.

Mary is a Syrian refugee living in Ballina who spoke to the audience in English having studied the language intensively since her arrival.

‘I don’t know every word,’ said Mary. ‘I have new friends and family in Australia. We share our culture and learn about Australian culture.’

Joanna Matricardi, who is one of the group that has helped support Mary, said that she had words stuck to ‘literally everything. Mary has literally learnt English in the last seven months.’

Mary from Sweet Mary Sweets speaking about coming to make her life in Australia. Photo Aslan Shand

As part of the support for Mary they identified a potential business opportunity with Mary’s cooking of traditional Syrian sweets and Sweet Mary Sweets was born. 

‘It’s not just the refugees that benefit, we feel like we have grown our family.’

So far there have been two families welcomed to Ballina, one Syrian and one  Venezuelan, and Rahaf’s family in Ocean Shores. 

‘All these groups are supported by the Ballina Region for Refugees,’ said Isabelle. 

‘There is a second Ocean Shores group that has been formed and they are preparing to welcome a new family in August, also from Syria.’

Rahaf with her teacher Abelia Hissink and mother Douua. Photo Aslan Shand

Settling in well

After just a year at Brunswick Heads Public School, Rahaf is already interpreting for her family, as they are supported to become an integral part of the local Ocean Shores and Brunswick Heads communities. 

‘It takes drive and organisation,’ said Isabelle. 

‘But we can do it. If you are thinking of setting up a group to assist with refugee settlement then get in touch. 

‘We have got so much from Essam, Douua and their family being here as part of our community.

‘We are a very privileged society, even after the flooding, we have a huge amount to give.’

You can find out more at: www.br4r.org.au.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Refugees from one US proxy war and another US economic sanction war.
    I welcome them a safe stay in Oz but when can we put a stop to the bloodshed and suffering inflicted by US empire?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Rally demands action over Gaza

As the crisis in Gaza continues to escalate, a march through Byron’s streets last Saturday demanded immediate action from the Australian Labor government to stop the genocide and mass starvation of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza.

New witnesses in long-running kambo inquest

Proceedings reopened in Byron Bay Courthouse yesterday in what is expected to be the final stage of the long-running coronial inquest into the death of Jarrad Antonovich.

Police appeal again to locate man missing from Mullumbimby

Police are again appealing for public assistance to locate Gage Wilson, a man missing from Mullumbimby, since Saturday, 18 May.

Causes of death

There’s been a lot of talk about an epidemic of violence against women lately, including Dr Ray Moynihan’s article in the last Echo. I like...