People of Ryde presents Nasrin Azizi
Published on 19 June 2020
City of Ryde is Refugee welcome Zone
I am happy to welcome you all to the City of Ryde. The City of Ryde is a “Refugee Welcome Zone”, which means that our community works to give refugees and asylum seekers alike a welcoming place to live. And the City of Ryde is like my own hometown.
My family and I arrived in Australia as refugees from Afghanistan in 2002, which was 18 years ago. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we were not given much information about the services available to us as refugees. It took us a while to find things like English classes and other services that would help us become a part of the wonderful Australian community. We didn’t even know about train and bus timetables, or even how to buy tickets!
It was not until I went to the Community Migrant Resources Centre (CMRC) that I learned about all of these things. The centre gave me information about the community, about how to apply for citizenship, where to take computer classes and how to apply for jobs. Since 2002, communication with refugees has improved a lot, so there is even more information available to you about services in the community. I remember the City of Ryde had a project which was called “A Guide for Asylum Seekers and Refugees” to provide you with all the information about all the services available to you around the City of Ryde community. Through the City of Ryde Council and other organisations in the community, you can receive help with education, legal matters, and documentation and visas. The education you can receive around the community includes English classes, cooking classes, computer classes and more. There are also educational groups for your children, so that they get a head-start with reading and writing in English.
There are also many community and social groups available through the City of Ryde Council, such as craft groups at libraries, mothers’ groups, and men’s groups. There are cultural groups for many different languages and cultures, including Persian, Indian, Chinese, Korean, and many more.
But there was no Afghan women’s group in the City of Ryde.
In 2016 I started an Afghan women’s wellbeing group project in partnership with the City of Ryde Council, Settlement Services International and CMRC. The Afghan Women’s Well-being Project contributed to long term strategic planning and sustainable re-settlement practices needed to meet the emerging service provision needs of Afghan women in the Ryde area.
The primary community outcome of this project was to break down individual and community barriers creating social isolation for Afghan women. Another key community outcome was providing connections between the women and a variety of service providers who are able to offer them information and support, which increases their accessibility to the services.
The project also personally and directly benefits 15 Afghan women who are socially isolated. In some cases, these women are facing domestic violence or are recent arrivals, including humanitarian entrants. These workshops provided an opportunity for the women to discuss personal issues in a safe space and, following this, become connected to support organisations and service providers who could address their needs. For example, in a workshop facilitated by Legal Aid, a participant shared her experience, which included psychological abuse and threats by her spouse who threatened to cancel her visa, forcing her to return to Afghanistan. The representative from Legal Aid was able to refer the participant to additional support services to address her situation, as well as providing legal advice regarding the rights of the participant in a confidential setting.
This project has reduced social isolation, cultural barriers and increased understanding of Australian culture and systems. A final, additional outcome was the improved self-esteem of the women.
Without the City of Ryde Council’s support, I would not be able to run the Afghan Women’s Wellbeing Group successfully.
Written by Nasrin Azizi