FOR the past 10 years, Save the Children’s It Takes a Village program has operated out of Gosnells, providing support to refugees.
Since its beginning, It Takes a Village has helped hundreds of refugee families find their feet in Australia by offering them a safe space and friendly faces in the form of their kids’ playgroup and adult social classes.
Save the Children bicultural worker Hawa Hassan came to Australia as a refugee from Kenya in 2004 and participated in the program before eventually helping run it.
She said while the challenges she faced back then were not dissimilar to the ones refugees face today, there was more fear towards refugees in the world today.
“I think the challenges stay the same, but what is maybe different today is when I moved over compared to what is happening around the world today, so many people are a bit scared,” she said.
“It’s happening all over the world and things in the media and the negative things, people are a bit more anxious on top of everything else.”
Mrs Hassan said the biggest challenge for many refugees was adapting to their new homeland’s culture and overcoming the language barrier.
“Settling in and fitting in (is the hardest thing). It’s hard because we all come from different backgrounds and have different cultures and different languages, the whole society is new and unfamiliar,” she said.
“The systems, the education system, the transport system (are hard), but also the language; you can’t even talk to your neighbour.”
Save the Children refugee and migrant co-ordinator Christine I’anson said National Refugee Week, which runs from June 18-24, was a good time to acknowledge Australia is far stronger when it is built on cultural diversity.
“Refugee Week is about promoting a positive awareness about the issues they face when they settle in a new country and that it does take all of us together to really make that a positive experience for refugees themselves and the broader community,” she said.
“Save the Children focuses on giving every child the right to a safe and happy childhood and Refugee Week is a great time to reflect on that vision through the support that we provide to refugee families within the Gosnells community.”
“It Takes a Village creates positive and long lasting outcomes for children as they are supported to integrate into the broader community.”
It Takes a Village team leader Anna Lambeck said refugees had a real desire to fit in with their new culture, but they required more hands-on help to assist them overcome their problems.
“The biggest frustration for families when they’re newly arrived, there is support there but (the issues is) how hands on and practical it is,” Ms Lambeck said.
“I think in a lot of ways its (hard for them), navigating the same systems everyone else has to navigate as well, but they’ve got the added disadvantage of not having the language.”