As published in the Eastern Courier Messenger.
Written by Kelly Hughes
Picture: Sahima Hassani has taken part in a new scheme run by Unley Council and the Australian Migrant Resource Centre to help refugees into employment.
A state-first program is providing refugees such as Sahima Hassani the chance at a better life.
The Australian Migrant Resource Centre has partnered with Unley Council to offer part-time work experience to young refugees who might otherwise have trouble finding employment.
Ms Hassani was one of the first to take part in the pilot program.
The Adelaide University graduate, who has a degree in marketing and psychological science, arrived in Australia from Afghanistan in 2006, following her father who came by boat six years earlier.
She said the internship program, where she worked at Unley Library and community centres and on environmental projects, had taught her lifelong skills.
“This program has made me confident with communicating with different types of people from different backgrounds and learning social and work-related skills,” Ms Hassani said.
“Coming to Australia, for me, means free education, freedom of will, freedom of speech and it’s basically a life without barriers. A life where you can enjoy study and do all the things you want.”
Her family’s journey from war-torn Afghanistan to Australia was not an easy one.
“My dad took refuge in Australia in 2000 and he came here by boat, sponsoring us here in Australia,” Ms Hassani said.
“He wasn’t granted citizenship or a visa straight away; he was detained for six months.
“He was in a refugee camp and he travelled in a boat for 29 days to come to Australia.
“My grandparents didn’t leave Afghanistan because they love their country. Although there is war and terror every day there, they were willing to die in their homeland.”
Australian Migrant Resource Centre chief executive Eugenia Tsoulis said she and the council were incredibly proud of the success of the pilot program.
“We’re looking at young people mainly because they find work the hardest,” Ms Tsoulis said.
Council chief executive Peter Tsokas also applauded the program.
“We’re passionate about celebrating the City of Unley’s cultural diversity and making sure that everyone in our community is able to reach their full potential,” he said.
Three-month placements are open to participants aged 18 and over. For more information, see unley.sa.gov.au