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What’s happening at SCoA?


FECCA 40th Anniversary (16 May)

SCoA attended 40th Anniversary of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) at Government House in Canberra. SCoA congratulates FECCA on 40 years of advocating for and supporting CALD communities. It was great to hear from His Excellency the Governor General and Lady Cosgrove who spoke at the event.

National Volunteer Week at Government House (21 May)

SCoA was delighted to celebrate National Volunteer Week at Government House at an event hosted by Volunteering Australia. It was wonderful to hear from His Excellency the Governor General and Lady Cosgrove about the importance of volunteering to Australia, and to celebrate all the efforts of volunteers who tirelessly support our communities in Australia, including those in the settlement sector.

Member Consultations – Brisbane (11 & 12 June)

SCoA met with some of our incredible members in Brisbane on 11 and 12 June. We loved hearing from their passionate staff about the innovative and important work they do to help their clients, and would like to say a big thank you to those members who hosted our visit. We were blown away by your creativity and passion. We are looking forward to meeting with the rest of our members around the country in the coming months.

My Health Record Refugee Forum (12 June)

SCoA attended and presented at the Australian Digital Health Agency’s recent refugee forum in Brisbane.  In the presentation, SCoA CEO Tammy Wolffs gave an overview of SCoA’s work with the Agency, to foster a greater understanding of My Health Record with member organisations that offer settlement services to newly arrived refugees and other migrants. Community leaders representing migrant and refugee groups, refugee health providers and settlement service providers worked with the Agency to enhance understanding about the benefits and challenges facing migrant and refugee communities in creating and using their My Health Record. To read more about the feedback from the consultation, click here. To read more about SCoA’s work with the Agency and access information about My Health Record, click here

Celebrating Refugee and Asylum Seeker Stories (18 June)

SCoA attended the World Refugee Day event at the ACT Multicultural Centre. SCoA CEO Tammy Wolffs was delighted to MC the event, co-hosted with settlement services providers and supporters Australian Red Cross, Canberra Refugee Support, Navitas, UNHCR Canberra, ACT Human Rights Commission, Companion House and the Canberra Multicultural Hub. It was great to celebrate the positive and wonderful stories of welcome and support given to refugees by so many organisations and people in the community on World Refugee day.

PWC Panel (24 June)

SCoA CEO Tammy Wolffs was a panelist for PwC’s Refugee Week Event alongside Kate Ogg, Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University, and Sophie Singh from the Canberra Refugee Action Campaign.  The event explored who refugees are, why they come to Australia, the challenges refugees face when they come to Australia, and how we can continue to create a culture of welcome throughout the country. SCoA thanks PwC for the opportunity to attend this event.


Volunteering and Settlement in Australia – May 2019

SCoA and Volunteering Australia have released a report on their National Survey on Volunteering and Settlement in Australia. Volunteers are the lifeblood of Australian communities. More than 5.8 million Australians are volunteers – that is 31 per cent of the population. It’s more than double for refugees and migrants, with our research indicating that 65 per cent supported their communities through their volunteering work within the first 18 months of their arrival to Australia.

Volunteering brings social inclusion, community resilience, participation and social cohesion to communities. It also helps to ward off isolation and loneliness.  Many volunteers in the settlement sector are from a migrant or refugee background. They have benefited from the volunteer work of others in their communities and use their lived experiences to help other new arrivals. Key insights from the report:

  • 65 per cent of new arrivals engaged in volunteering within the first 18 months of their arrival to Australia.
  • People mainly volunteer as a way to contribute to society, make friends, improve their English, and/or gain local work experience.
  • There are personal and professional benefits from volunteering.
  • Organisations gained many benefits from their volunteers.
  • More than two-thirds of organisations surveyed reported that they and their volunteers need more formal support, and would benefit from funding for training programs, supporting material, and forming new partnerships and sharing resources.

Read the report here.

Barriers and Exclusions: The support needs of newly arrived refugees with a disability – February 2019

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA); Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA); the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA); and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) released a new report outlining the significant obstacles faced by refugees with disabilities who are living in Australia in February 2019.

The report, Barriers and Exclusions: the support needs of newly arrived refugees with a disability, is based on consultations with affected individuals and service providers. It reveals that despite policy improvements that have enabled more refugees with disabilities to settle in Australia, many people still face barriers to resettlement upon arrival.

The report identifies a number of hurdles for newly arrived refugees with disabilities including: access to timely assessment and support; provision of essential equipment and aides; lack of accessible and appropriate housing; inadequate support within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); lack of culturally appropriate disability services; and lack of translating and interpreting services within disability services and the NDIS.

Read the report here.

Government Engagement

Australian Digital Health Agency

SCoA is working with the Australian Digital Health Agency to develop information and resources on My Health Record. We also attended and presented at a community consultation in Brisbane. To read more about our work with the Agency about My Health Record, click here

Department of Social Services

SCoA’s own Jamila Ahmadi presented at the Department of Social Services at their 2019 Refugee Week Celebration. She shared her own story of arrival in Australia, as well as stories from Shabnam Safa from MYAN Australia and Asma Mirzae from DSS. She also spoke about the contribution of refugees to the Australian economy and community.