Settlement – a series of welcomes

For new arrivals, it’s exciting and daunting to come to a new country. There is the promise of peace and a bright future, and the trepidation of navigating a new culture. Am I going to be happy? Are people going to be warm and friendly? Will they understand what I’ve been through?

Here at MDA, we know the welcome, safety and pathways to full participation we provide refugees and migrants is vital to their successful settlement. We settle each newly arrived refugee in Brisbane, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.

Our work is based on helping new arrivals overcome the everyday challenges of settling into a new country and working with them to build their futures.

We work with individuals and families to access resources and services, providing cultural orientation about Australian life, helping them build networks and engage with their local community.

We do all this with the aim of helping new refugees and migrants regain independence, restore hope and foster that priceless feeling that they belong in their new home.

“It is a real privilege to have the job of welcoming refugees to Australia. The experience of seeing clients at the airport arrival gates and their smiles when they begin their new life is very rewarding.”

Our settlement work from beginning to end is about providing a warm welcome to our refugee clients in their new home. We do this literally with a welcome party at the airport.

Our operations team plans out each group of new arrivals to make sure their first experience in Australia and with MDA is a positive one.

Most of our clients arrive with minimal belongings so we provide them with an initial food package and start up package of household and other goods.

We also help them find their bearings, orientating them with their local area and linking them to community services including Medicare, schools, health providers and social groups.

For our clients, this can be a dizzying few days. Everything is new and different to what they are used to and language barriers can make communicating trying. We see our job as making this time as smooth and hassle-free as possible.

“For many of our clients, finding a peaceful new home country in Australia is a dream come true. And when we help our new arrivals find a house that they can start turning into their new home, it brings them and us, a sense of achievement in making a big step on the settlement journey.”

Finding stable long-term housing is the cornerstone to successful settlement and we thrive on this responsibility.

Our Housing Services team works with clients, their support networks and accommodation providers to find the right home that suits their individual needs after the initial arrival period.
It requires team members to quickly orientate clients into the housing market, something that for many of them is a new experience.

This also includes helping them to connect their utilities and giving them tips on being a good tenant and neighbour.

In the longer term, our goal is to ensure clients develop the skills to be able to independently navigate the housing market.

The housing part of our clients’ journeys is challenging for them and for our team, but the rewards are always tangible and we see it every day.

“We greet new arrivals with welcome, laughter, and important information for life in Australia in our Settlement Lifeskills Orientation Program.”

The Lifeskills team invites all of MDA’s newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers to attend the Lifeskills Program. Together we’ll discuss the Australian law, systems and culture – including why rubber shoes are a part of Australia’s national costume.

We discuss the health system, family law, accommodation, education, employment, driving, police powers, managing money and much more.

A program packed with humour means trainers wait eagerly for the delayed laughter as each witticism is translated into five or more different languages! New arrivals embrace this opportunity for cross-cultural learning and we make sure there is plenty of space for cultural sharing between the cultures present each week.

We also hold Youth Lifeskillz every school holidays. This program provides a safe space for young people to chill, connect and make friends (with some sneaky learning thrown in!)

The Lifeskills program is at the beginning of a person’s settlement journey and it helps to provide a foundation of information for successful settlement, which we build on over time with extra education activities and one-on-one work between clients and their case managers, and cultural support workers.

A happy, laughing learning space ensures MDA has some of the highest retention rates nationally!

“I feel privileged to support Asylum Seekers. Their longing for a new start constantly motivates me to see everyday life with a fresh perspective.”

We work with families and individuals living in the community who are seeking protection in Australia. Our asylum seeker clients are faced with constant changes to both their living circumstances and their legal status as a result of changes in policy and legislation.

It’s our role to assist clients to navigate these changes, and manage the impact that it has on their day-to-day lives.

We strive to support our clients to quickly gain independence in the community by empowering them to access health services, education, housing and teaching them how to manage financially with limited funds.

“Like everything in life, there are refugees who will find their feet quickly in Australia, and those who need additional help getting there. This program is the support that helps to ensure no one slips through the gap on the way to successful settlement.”

The particular history and circumstances of some refugees mean they need longer-term support to feel settled, to become independent and active members of the community.

Through our Continuing Settlement Services program, MDA provides both practical and emotional support as well as community integration to refugees who have been in Australia for more than six months and less than five years.
This includes individuals, families and young people.

We integrate them into the community, assist with household management, accessing health services, education, learning the English language, managing finances, acquiring life skills and managing family relationships.

This is done through information sharing sessions, group work, referrals to specialist services, advocacy, and service providers. Continuing Settlement Services workers also provided emotional and general support to their clients.

The Continuing Settlement Services program is funded through the Settlement Grants Program (SGP)

“Seeing young people starting life anew in a new country, continuously instils in me the belief that it’s never too late to start afresh.”

Our teenage years are filled with difficulties at the best of times. But for young refugees who settle in Australia on their own, without a parent or guardian to provide support, it is especially challenging. This is where MDA steps in, to support and guide them.

Our Youth Settlement Services deliver special support to these young people (Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHM). We provide them with accommodation, welfare support guidance and care.

We also help them with attending and achieving in school, getting part-time employment, participating in local sports and setting personal goals for university, training and future pursuits.

Our clients are a wonderful group of strong, resilient youth who are rising above difficult childhoods and we aim to help transform them into confident and independent adults. We take great pride in assuming the responsibility of custodianship for them. We are constantly humbled by their endeavours and aspirations and cherish our role in their journey.

The young people are referred to us by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which remains their legal guardian.

“Hearing people’s interests and linking them into activities Brisbane offers builds connection between Brisbane’s newest residents and the broader population. We all feel like we belong when we are connected and accepted – welcome someone new today!”

Our Social Inclusion Activities motto is Have a Go!
Our Have a Go Sport afternoons in different locations around Brisbane provide people an opportunity to show off their sporting skills or try something new.

Keep an eye out for future Australian sporting champions!
The Social Inclusion Activities team work to connect clients with broader Brisbane activities and festivals. We get people connected to:

  • Community celebrations
  • fishing excursions
  • multicultural swimming opportunities
  • local English classes
  • places of worship
  • local Welcome Hubs

Fortnightly City Orientation gives new arrivals an insight into what’s on offer in beautiful Brisbane as groups tour local landmarks and learn to navigate Brisbane’s public transport system.