The Ballina Byron Settlement Program

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Ballina Region For Refugees welcome Bashar, Mary adn Nagham

The Ballina Byron Settlement Program – Ballina Region For Refugees

Ballina Region for Refugees exist to ensure that refugees are warmly welcomed to the Northern Rivers and offered fundamental and practical support needed to find their feet in our communities.

The Ballina Byron Settlement Program has been established to assist with the positive settlement experience of asylum seekers and refugees in the Northern Rivers through building social networks and assisting with multicultural cohesion and acceptance within settlement locations.

Refugees are welcomed by a local group with whom they have already been communicating over social media, and can continue to build those friendships. These relationships enable the family members to integrate more easily into the local community. The program has been accepted under the new Australian government’s CRISP community sponsorship scheme. Through this scheme, small community groups are formed to settle Australian government approved refugees.

As a recipient of an NRCF Community Grant, Ballina Region for Refugees was able to support a family of three from Syria with living and studying expenses to help them settle into the Ballina community. Ballina Region for Refugees volunteers secured accommodation and arranged furniture and household equipment for the family. They also connected the family to health services, English lessons and supported the son to obtain a driver’s licence and purchase a vehicle.

Ballina Region For Refugees Welcome

Jo Matricardi, Bashar, Mary, GG, Mrs Hurley, Nagham and Mayor Cadwallader

Heartwarming outcomes of this wonderful program include:

  • People in the neighbourhood have benefited from the friendship of the family. A network of support has been built.
  • The mother has received the qualifications allowing her to set up her own business making and selling Syrian sweets – Sweet Mary’s Sweets
  • Both of the children are working. The family became financially independent within the first six months of arrival.
  • When the son’s language skills improved, he received his driver’s license and the family had independent transport.
  • The son immediately started to help the two other refugee families living in Ocean Shores and Ballina.

The son shared his experience and gratitude for the support given through the program:

“I have spoken to my friends across Australia, refugees who came to Australia under the case management model, not CRISP, and their experience is completely different. Our experience has exceeded our expectations. They are struggling.

When we were asked by the Australian Government in Iraq whether we wanted to come under CRISP we researched it and found that the model had existed in Canada for 40 years. We decided to come under CRISP even though it was a new program. We never thought it would be so welcoming and easy for us.”

B.F. son

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