Foundation House, Brunswick, Australia
The Syrian/Assyrian Young People and Parent’s group has arisen out of community connections and evolved as needs have emerged and trust developed. Many have been captives of ISIS prior to arrival in Australia. The community originally expected settlement support from religious churches and have not engaged with mainstream services. Generally, they are isolated and disconnected, including from members of their own community who arrived years ago. The aim is for the group to become self-sustaining.
The group has been community-led and involved working alongside newly arrived young people. We started with psycho-education groups and other needs emerged, such as wanting to develop and learn new skills (e.g., grant writing), being linked to other services, and activities. Advocacy support has also been provided. Young people have recruited others to join the group. We meet on a fortnightly basis and discuss things people need help with before moving onto an activity. All sessions are guided by what they want and need.
Building trust with a community promised support by services who have then not delivered has been a challenge. Parents havee young people to support trust-building helping them to feel comfortable in allowing young people to be involved. Effective community engagement has been critical to the success of the group and allowed for myriad needs to emerge.
Highlights include drama acting out challenges in cross-cultural communication and a general knowledge test which doubles as preparation for the Citizenship test! Other sessions have explored managing emotions. Responding the needs of young people has allowed us to be flexible and creative. We continue to work towards the long-term goal of the group becoming self-sustaining through strengthening capacity and supporting emerging leaders. Many have gone on to share their settlement experiences with those who have arrived after them.