The Social & Community Development Empowerment programs aim to achieve the following outcomes for asylum seekers:

  • Foster empowerment, resilience, independence, self sufficiency and contribution of asylum seekers
  • Improve engagement, integration and connection to community and mainstream services
  • Develop skills, knowledge, talents, creativity and strengths of asylum seekers
  • Encourage a sense of belonging, connectedness, improve loneliness, social isolation and mental health of asylum seekers

PROJECT: Connect Mentor Program

The Connect Mentor program develops and maintains long-term relationships through matching Mentor volunteers with asylum seekers for regular one-on-one social contact and mentoring in order to combat loneliness, social isolation, depression and improve and encourage independent relationships and connectedness in asylum seekers.

Through sharing activities such as a walk in the park, attending free public events, playing soccer, going for a coffee etc mentors provide companionship, assist asylum seekers in the development of a better cultural understanding and consequently with their effective adjustment into the community.

Furthermore, mentors help to improve English and social skills. They help to make a positive change in someone’s life by assisting them to achieve their potential, discover their strengths, and set and achieve their individual goals. A mentor encourages positive choices, promotes high self-esteem, and introduces new ideas and perspectives.

PROJECT: Orientation Program

The Orientation project aims to support asylum seekers with a level of knowledge and cultural understanding that will assist their orientation and settlement in Australia, thus positively impacting on their adjustment, well-being and integration into the Australian community.

The Orientation Project:

  • provides information (including group information sessions) around a range of areas from understanding Australian laws to information about ethnic community groups
  • Links asylum seekers with relevant groups, services and organizations in the community, for example, places of worship and community health centres
  • Conducts tours of Melbourne City and local area. This includes city landmarks, public transport, hospitals, unis, library, tax office, medicare, banks and other asylum organisations, as well as regional libraries, gyms, health centres, neighbourhood houses etc.
  • Learns about the skills, talents, interests and hobbies of asylum seekers in order to facilitate opportunities to connect to the community.

PROJECT: Arts Project 'Not Just My Story'

“Not Just My Story” (NJMS), is a series of drama/creative story telling workshops with asylum seekers. NJMS will be facilitated by an Artistic Director and will culminate in a “work in progress” theatrical performance and feature in the Human Rights Arts Film Festival in May 2011. The project engages a number of other artists who will work on skill development with the asylum seekers. The focus of NJMS is around seeing asylum seekers beyond the negative labels of “illegals”, “queue jumpers”, “boat people” etc, and rather as skilled, talented and multidimensional human beings who have new, rich and positive stories to tell.

NJMS will engage new asylum seekers as the protagonists, and utilize asylum seekers and refugees from a previous ASRC Arts project in the role of collaborator/mentors and interweaving their stories of the struggles and the joys of settlement and integration into Australia. Non refugee volunteer actor collaborators will be recruited to play the other characters in the lives of asylum seekers.

Asylum Seeker - Anna

Anna is a Hutu Rwandan and came to Australia to play in the Homeless World Cup. Her mother’s last words to her were “never be afraid, you are a special girl and you are going to be rich and famous one day, and you will look after your brothers”. Anna has been paired with a young Australian mentor named Nathan who understands how hard life is in Africa and speaks Kiswahili.

Volunteer - Nathan

“I really want to make a difference in the life of an asylum seeker and I think I have a lot to offer…my mentor is really cool, we get along well and enrich each others lives”

Social & Community Development Photo Gallery