From the Syrian/Iraqi Refugee Response Project Manager Zoe Paleologos:
Thank you for your continuing interest in the Diocesan effort to warmly welcome and support Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing the conflict and arriving on our doorstep.
Anglicare is leading the Anglican agencies – Anglican Deaconess Ministries, Anglican Retirement Villages, Anglican Media, Moore College, Sydney Anglican School Corporation, Youthworks – for a co-ordinated response to the programs and activities that we will be doing together as an Anglican community.
As at the beginning of April 2016, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) had granted 2500 visas to refugees in neighbouring countries, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Approximately 200 had arrived from that region up until April, and DIBP expects that several hundred will start arriving per week from June 2016 onwards. Up to about half of the refugees will be settled in the Greater Sydney area, including Wollongong.
Refugees are predominantly of Syrian or Iraqi nationality, but may also be from another nationality or stateless if they have fled from the Syrian conflict. DIBP anticipates men, women and children from many different ethnicities and religions. They have also indicated that about 17% of arrivals will be aged 4 and under. DIBP has been targeting the program towards those most vulnerable and in need of resettlement, so we should expect many one parent households, large families where orphaned relatives have been included in the family unit, and intergenerational families where grandparents are included in the family and not left behind. The Department has indicated that more than half of refugees arriving from the Syrian conflict will have established links in Australia, whether friends or family.
Over the coming months and years there will be opportunities for people to get involved with formal programs and informal community and parish connections that support refugees, people seeking asylum and new migrants settle into their new home. We are looking at providing programs and helping equip churches and communities to run activities that will be flexible and responsive to the needs of refugees as they settle. Some core activities that we have seen are effective and practical in the long-term settlement of refugees include school readiness programs such as Early Learning Through Play and English as a Second Language. We will be concentrating on providing parishes with training and resources so that they can continue, expand or commence these ministries if appropriate for their context. We will also be engaging with parishes about how best they can love and support refugees in their local area through informal relationships or partnering with other parishes to do so if they are located in areas where refugees do not usually settle.
As a first step for involvement with any ministry amongst refugees, Anglicare has developed and is delivering volunteer training to assist individuals and groups to help support and love their new neighbours. Training will assist those involved in understanding past and present issues facing new arrivals and engaging in ministry in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way.
Training will be offered over two modules, with additional electives available. Modules 1 and 2 are available on Saturdays, weekdays and weeknights throughout 2016. Module 1 covers issues such as cultural backgrounds and understanding the refugee process and Module 2 builds on this to cover working effectively with new arrivals. Electives will be available in 2017 and include: Understanding mental health in the refugee context; working with Muslims; accidental counselling which includes self-care.
It is essential that people involved with refugee ministry and activities receive training in working with a very vulnerable group of people. We view this training as foundational for those who are already active or keen to commence ministry amongst refugees. There will be opportunities for expanding on this training through electives and specialised ministry training such as English as Second Language (ESL) and Early Learning Through Play (ELTP). The training will also be helpful for anyone wanting to understand more about visa and refugee processes. https://www.anglicare.org.au/refugee-training