News from AMES Australia
Read about the latest news, research and initiatives from migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia…
Ambitious refugee students win Graham Sherry scholarships
Two young refugees who escaped war and persecution and went on to tertiary study aimed at allowing them to make contributions to Australia are the inaugural winners of the Graham Sherry Scholarships.
An aspiring female engineer from Syria and a young Afghan studying radiation therapy are the recipients of the scholarships, named after AMES Australia’s former chair Mr Graham Sherry OAM.
Scholarship recipient Karla Medawar, a refugee from Syria, had basic English skills when she arrived but has worked hard and is now studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at RMIT University.
Fellow scholarship recipient Hussain Rezaie came to Australia as an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan in 2012.
He taught himself English through reading newspapers and watching television and completed his VCE without family support in Australia.
Hussain is now studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy at Monash University.
Both recipients were motivated in their choice of career by a desire to give back to Australia, the country that offered them a safe haven.
“I’m keen to do something meaningful with my life and especially to help cancer patients,” said Mr Rezaie, who has been volunteering as a Peer Educator at Centre for Multicultural Youth and as a Let’s Chat Ambassador with the English Connect Program at Monash University.
Ms Medawar said she wanted to help build Australia’s vital infrastructure as power engineer.
“This scholarship will help me achieve that goal,” she said.
The Graham Sherry Scholarships, worth $5000 each, are aimed at supporting the education pathways of young people from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds who are newly arrived in Australia.
They celebrate the contribution Mr Sherry made to the refugee sector over more than ten years.
Students learn English though performing arts
Young students at AMES Australia recently participated in performing arts workshops to improve their English and interpersonal skills through song and dance.
A3 Australian Arts Alive’s 10-week program also aims to develop confidence in the students who are aged between 18 and 25 years old.
A3 instructor Rosie said she was happy to be back at AMES Australia delivering the workshops.
AMES Australia and A3 Australian Arts Alive’s strong partnership dates back to 2011, providing an opportunity for refugee and migrant students to build English-language skills through music and dance.
AMES manager to share experience with the UN
AMES Australia’s International and Community Development Manager, Melika Sheikh-Eldin, is one of five female experts who will attend a United Nations refugee convention in Geneva, Switzerland.
The convention is part of the UNHCR’s ‘Global Compact on Refugees’ which was established in 2016 and agreed on by all 193 member states of the UN including Australia.
Melika will be joining a discussion on the needs of refugee women and girls around the world, with thematic discussions helping to ensure that the UNHCR’s program of action includes the perspectives of all member states and experts in the refugee sector.
Melika is one of five women who have been commissioned by the UNHCR to conduct a ‘Gender Audit’ and contribute to recommendations that address the specific needs of female refugees. Professor Eileen Pittaway and Dr. Linda Bartolomei from the University of New South Wales’s Centre for Refugee Research, who put forward the five women, believe they are representative of the geographic and demographic spread of refugee women from around the world.
The women will bring their expertise on gender based violence and how this creates barriers for refugee women and girls to take advantage of the protective measures which they should have access to.
Melika was also chosen because of her commitment to women’s issues, and knowledge of the ongoing crisis for many groups across Africa as well as recently arrived refugees from Syria.
AMES and Box Hill High share learning experiences
More than 60 students from AMES Australia’s Box Hill centre this month visited Box Hill High School as part of an ongoing relationship between the two campuses.
The students joined with 65 Box Hill High students taking part in conversation classes, a session on social media as well as a treasure hunt, a soccer clinic and a barbecue.
AMES Australia Teacher Joe Jach said the partnership with Box Hill High School was now in its third year.
He said this week’s visit was the latest in which students from the two campuses visit each other to share knowledge, life experiences and understanding.
“The program is about helping our students build links into the local community and well as getting one-to-one support in terms of improving their conversational English,” Joe said.
“It’s also about learning more about Australian culture for our students,” he said.
Box Hill High School teacher Lucy Warren said the partnership operated under the school’s Duke of Edinburgh Awards program.
“For our kids, it gives an opportunity to learn something about different cultures and to experience the idea of performing a service to the community. It also builds confidence in speaking to adults,” Lucy said.
“It is also about breaking down stereo-types through meeting people from diverse backgrounds,” she said.
AMES Student Ellie Huang Xi, a migrant from China, said the visit had given her some insights into Australia culture.
“It is very interesting to meet the students from Box Hill High. They are helping us to speak English better and we are learning more about life in Australia,” Ellie said.
Box Hill High School student Cody Lewis, 16, said he was fascinated by the stories of some of the migrants and refugees he met through the program.
“It’s really interesting to hear about the countries and homes that the AMES students come from and what they are doing here in Australia,” Cody said.
“I really enjoy hearing their stories and it really nice to be able to help them in a small way,” he said.