SAVE The Children’s It Takes a Village program has celebrated a rewarding 10 years of helping refugees settle in Australia.
The program has been operating in Perth’s south-east metropolitan region since 2007 and has helped roughly 2500 people in the Gosnells and Armadale area feel comfortable in their new home since it began.
Regional manager Liza Beinart said establishing social connections was critical to immigrants feeling at ease in their new home.
“Once families have a connection to somebody who lives outside the family home, there is an ability to solve problems which doesn’t exist otherwise,” she said.“Whether that be an issue around domestic violence, their children being bullied at school, not understanding how to read a recipe or how to take money out of the bank, if you have a friend you can phone who can assist you, it increases well-being enormously.”
Ms Beinart said women in particular struggled to adapt to their new surroundings.
“The women in particular are extremely socially isolated. It’s very difficult for them to navigate public transport by themselves, enrol their children in schools, communicate with their teachers, deal with the trauma they’ve experienced and make friends and social networks,” she said.
Ms Beinart said she found it personally rewarding to be a part of the program and share in the joy of each new success.
“I find it extraordinary to see each person’s individual story a success, whether that ends up in them joining nursing, or just becoming more confident in English, navigating a bus system by themselves so they can go visit a friend and have a cup of tea,” she said.
Issues facing immigrants
Save the Children refugee and migrant co-ordinator Christine I’anson said the three biggest issues amongst immigrants who came to the program for help were social isolation, difficulties understanding and accessing services and requiring practical support.
She said a lack of familiarity, confidence and English language skills was one of the biggest reasons they came to It Takes a Village for help.
“They come for support with accessing such services as the medical system, particularly for anti-natal and children’s health issues and the education system, to support their children’s education, enrolling children in school, changing schools and reading school reports,” she said.
Ms I’anson said some examples of practical support immigrant required were understanding mail, letters and forms received in the post, completing forms, seeking legal aid and enrolling in English classes.