Australia: tentative steps towards belonging

29 August 2012|Kim Smith

Sydney, 29 August 2012 — Eighteen unaccompanied minors have entered JRS’ Unaccompanied Minors project in Sydney since it opened in December 2010. The pioneering project, in which JRS, with its partner in this project, Marist Youth Care, became the first agency in Australia to house unaccompanied minors, has reaped a number of success stories.

Mohammad has been granted a Protection Visa, and transition to a Life Without Barriers placement in Brisbane so that he can live close to his friends. He recently obtained employment as a barber and is now looking to rent his own apartment.

Mehdi has also obtained a Protection Visa. His best friend, who was living in another UAM program in Sydney, received a Protection Visa the same week. Services involved worked together to have the two young men transition simultaneously to a Youth Support Pilot Program located in Brisbane. Mehdi says that he is happy in Brisbane and everything is going well for him and his friend.

Hossein moved out of the JRS house and into a Vulnerable Adult Male Program in Auburn, and was granted a Protection Visa. He is now receiving support in finding his own accommodation and has obtained work as a painter.

Ali left the JRS House to live with his cousin in Epping. The very same day, he was granted a Protection Visa. Ali is very happy to be living with his cousin; he continues to attend school at Chatswood Intensive English Centre and is expecting to graduate next term. He hopes to obtain his learner driver’s licence, and to start an electrician apprenticeship upon completion of his schooling.

Working with the unaccompanied minors has been both challenging and rewarding. While each young person’s story is different, each of them has fled their country with serious concerns for their life. Each of them gravely misses their family, has been in a detention centre for several months and has numerous mental health and physical health issues.

I am constantly surprised to see how resilient the young people are and how quickly they can adapt to a new culture, school, language and way of life, all without their families and especially given everything they have endured. The rewards have come from supporting the young people and watching them gradually become more settled, happier and healthier throughout the time they are at the JRS house.

Kim Smith, JRS caseworker

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