By Chris Boulous
Assyrian Australian Association president Nabel Karim knows what it is like. He knows what it is like to arrive in a new country and need some assistance.
A new content country, a new language… a new life.
It’s why he has described the state government’s $50,000 grant for a youth worker as “vital.”
“When I first came from Iraq as a refugee in 1994 I needed someone to just say I’m here if you need any help,” he said.
“The funding will allow us to employ a youth worker to help the younger generation coming to Australia and migrating from countries in the Middle East and assisting them integrate in their new home and to help them in society and guide them in the right direction which is very important.”
The new youth worker will be based at the Assyrian Resource Centre – one of four key initiatives of the non-profit organisation which includes a youth scholarship, language school and radio program. They have been serving the Assyrian Community since 1969.
Members of the Assyrian community joined Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies and Multiculturalism Minister Ray Williams for the funding announcement on Friday at Club Marconi.
Mr Williams also announced the Assyrian New Year festival will receive $80,000 over the next four years to support the event which attracts more than 20,000 people to Fairfield Showground. A further $10,000 has been committed to next month’s celebration which he described as a “special occasion ” for Assyrians from war-torn Syria and Iraq to celebrate their national holiday freely in their new homeland.
Assyrian Universal Alliance deputy secretary general Hermiz Shahen said the grants will help the community continue to deliver services for the Assyrian community.
“For years our community has been neglected, even though we are a community most in need of assistance with over 20,000 refugees arriving from the war-torn countries of Iraq and Syria in the last few years in a very traumatic situation leaving behind their destroyed homes and properties,” he said.
“We are hoping for further consideration to be given to our community and their special circumstances when it comes to issuing grants.”
Mrs Davies said the government recognises the valuable contributions of the more than 40,000 Assyrian Australians in NSW to all facets of culture, including business, food and the arts.
“This funding will support Assyrian Australians to share their culture with the broader NSW community and pass on traditions to younger generations,” she said.