SydWest's emerging migrant and refugee leaders visit Parliament House Canberra and meet with Hon Ed Husic MP.

SydWest welcomes civics grant from NSW Government

Twenty-five community representatives from the Blacktown area have travelled to the nation’s capital to view democracy in action under a new civics education program for emerging migrant and refugee leaders and those preparing to become Australian citizens.

Member for Blacktown, Stephen Bali, nominated SydWest to receive a $30,000 grant from the NSW Government to help build understanding of Australia’s political system and decision-making processes.

At Parliament House, Canberra last week they were met by Member for Chifley and Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, toured the parliament and observed Question Time.

‘Leaders and influencers from across 25 different cultural groups in the Blacktown area identified the need for leadership development, which led to this program,’ said SydWest Settlement and Community Programs Manager Clement Meru.

‘When people understand the functions of all of our tiers of government, agencies, departments and courts they can engage more fully and confidently in the Australian community and this will put participants in a great position to be able to advocate and make representations on behalf of themselves or their communities,’ Mr Meru said.

‘Ultimately the program aims to foster a sense of belonging, inclusion and empowerment so that our new arrivals can contribute meaningfully to Australian society.’

Program participant Osman Abdulrahaman, who came to Australia from Sudan, is now a permanent resident and preparing to apply for citizenship. He said he found the visit inspiring.

“I saw many different people, from different countries and backgrounds all working together in the one building,’ he said. ‘It was easy to see the Prime Minister and other parliamentary members, which is very different from Sudan. It made me feel that anyone can be a member of parliament one day if you want to help other Australians.’

Another attendee was Rabia Johini who arrived in Australia 2 years ago from Khabul, Afghanistan. While Rabia trained as a lawyer in her home country, women and girls are now prevented from going to school and to work.

‘It was good to see different people, different cultures, and women coming into the parliament,’ she said. She said it was valuable to see Parliament House and Australian democracy in action.

Mr Meru said he appreciated Minister Husic taking time out of his schedule to meet the group.

He was also grateful to Mr Bali for nominating the project for funding under the Local Small Commitments Allocation Program.

The funds will help SydWest design comprehensive civics course, conduct awareness sessions and facilitate field visits, such as the one to Parliament House, Canberra.

Other visits will be to the NSW Parliament and Blacktown Council. The program forms part of a range of activities SydWest provides to build leadership capacity in diverse communities.


26 March 2023