Welcome to Australia Dinner – Refugee Support Program

Gathered on Sat 06 Aug 2016, it was a day of joy and celebration for 180 newly arrived refugees largely from Syria and Iraq but also from Afghanistan and Iran. Occasion of the gathering was a community dinner jointly organised by Settlement Services International and Australian Relief Organisation. The dinner was hosted by Amity College at its Prestons Campus.

Representing the Premier of NSW Mike Baird, Peter Shergold; NSW Coordinator General for Refugee Resettlement was the guest of honour. While board members, staff, volunteers and guests of the Settlement Services International were present at the dinner, they were warmly welcomed by directors, advisors, coordinators and volunteers of the Australian Relief Organisation along with the host; Amity College board members, principals, staff and volunteers.

Highlights of the speeches

Ahmet Aydogan, President of Australian Relief Organisation

“We are a charity based in Sydney, and operate across the country through a branch in Melbourne and rep offices in other cities. Starting operations in 2013, we quickly became an NGO delivering aid in African and Asian countries. In addition to our donors and corporate sponsors, we would like to thank our directors, advisors and project coordinators who voluntarily support this humanitarian movement on a grass roots level.”

Peter Shergold, NSW Coordinator General for Refugee Resettlement

“I want to welcome you in a way that you and your children build safe lives in Australia. My job is to ensure that your children get education and you find jobs, so you can establish yourselves in this new country. I welcome you to Australia and thank you in advance for that you will help Australia grow and can take its place in the world”

Elisabeth Shaw, Acting Chair of SSI

“While each of you in this room has an amazing story to share, common themes of your stories are resilience, tenacity and hope. Please take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Along with SSI, organisations like ARO and Amity College, look after the community of Australians who are out there to support you.”

Cihan Tumen, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Relief Organisation

“There are 65 million people in the world today who are displaced from their homes due to wars and regional conflicts. This is the highest level of displaced people since the World World II. But, for those who are present here tonight with us; you are now in a safe land and welcome to Australia. You are not a burden but an asset to this country. We hope that you will be another success story in the Australian history. Working in partnership with the Coordinator General and the SSI, we are at your service to assist you in any way we can.”

Abdullah Aksu, Chairman of Amity College

“It is our pleasure to host this dinner tonight. Amity College has been operating for over two decades in three campuses at Prestons, Auburn and Illawarra. We are a truly multicultural Australian school with over 1,800 students coming from 46 nationalities. We are proud to assist to the refugee settlement process in Australia. To date, our Illawarra Campus has sponsored four refugee children”

Our special thanks go to Amity College for hosting the event, Manager of Humanitarian Settlement Services at SSI; Yamamah Agha for the initiative, Choppers Transport for its sponsorhip, Sanaa Chemaissem for her Arabic translation, and all those who volunteered on the night.

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