Evelyn Zaragoza

Evelyn Zaragoza

Australia’s national peak body for refugees and local communities come together through food and storytelling

In partnership with Settlement Services International (SSI), the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is highlighting food during Refugee Week (June 16-22, 2019) and asking everyone to ‘Share a meal, share a story’.

Through its 2019 theme, ‘A World of Stories’, RCOA is encouraging the broader community to celebrate the immense courage, resilience and valuable contributions made by refugees to Australian society.

On Wednesday, June 26, SSI will present cultural activities and performances over a shared meal at its Community Kitchen in Auburn, a place where people from different backgrounds cook, eat, dance, learn and create together.

Through the concept of a shared meal, the Community Kitchen reduces social and cultural isolation of community members, including refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants living in the local Auburn area.

Refugee Week celebrations will include an array of activities and entertainment, including tours of the SSI Friendship Garden, a cultural fashion show, and dance and vocal performances.

“This is a place that lives and breathes the ‘Share a meal, share a story’ ethos,” said SSI General Manager, Public Affairs & Communications, Shannon Kliendienst.

RCOA CEO Paul Power said, “The ‘Share a meal, share a story’ theme for this year’s Refugee Week speaks to the incredible stories and the rich culinary heritage that people bring with them when they come to Australia. Food brings people together, and we’re encouraging people to do just that as they celebrate our refugee communities next week.”

Every fortnight the Community Kitchen serves a warm, culturally familiar meal in a relaxed setting that allows for intercultural and interfaith friendships to be formed. It is a welcoming place where people from different backgrounds meet and learn about each other over lunch and through participating in activities.

Nasrin Azizi came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2002. She gained her degree in social work in 2014 and runs a wellbeing group for Afghani women, which aims to decrease social isolation.

“As refugees, we appreciate the freedom of Australia. Dancing was once forbidden in Afghanistan [under Taliban rule] so, by sharing their culture through things like dance and music, the Community Kitchen makes the women in my group feel empowered and builds their self-esteem. Plus they enjoy meeting and learning from other cultures – hearing stories and eating new food.

“The Community Kitchen is one of the best programs to make people feel included.”

Ms Kliendienst said, “We welcome everyone in the local community and beyond to come and be part of our Community Kitchen on June 26 to ‘share a meal, and a story’ with us.”

The event will be sponsored by Allianz, a long-standing corporate partner of SSI. Members of the Allianz executive team will also be volunteering their time on the day.

Allianz Australia Senior Manager, Social Impact, Charis Martin-Ross said that this event is one of many examples of how the ongoing partnership with Allianz and SSI has broadened employee perspectives on diversity and community engagement.

“Allianz is proud to partner with SSI and our partnership has given our employees a better understanding of refugee experiences as well as a chance to connect and give back to our diverse community,” Ms Martin-Ross said.

“We hope our experience showcases the benefits of hiring people with a refugee background. Through our refugee employment programs, I have seen first-hand the talent and potential that refugees bring to the workforce.”

Organisations can get involved in volunteer opportunities to ‘share a meal, share a story’ with SSI’s newcomer community throughout the year. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Event details – Celebrating Refugee Week at SSI Community Kitchen
When: Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 11 am – 2 pm
Where: Auburn Centre for Community, 44A Macquarie Road, Auburn
11:00 am – Activities commence
11:30 am – Cultural fashion show
12:30 pm – Performances
1:00 pm – Lunch is served


About SSI:
Settlement Services International is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. We work with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.


Education will be a centerpiece of tomorrow’s Budget, with students and parents across NSW benefiting from a record investment in 190 new and upgraded schools, 4600 new teachers and psychologists and social workers in every high school.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell at Kent Road Public School to announce an unprecedented $18.5 billion Education Budget in 2019-20 alone – an increase of $1.2 billion on the previous year.

The Budget includes an extra $600 million in recurrent spending and $600 million in capital spending in 2019-20.

Ms Berejiklian said the record investment is part of the NSW Government’s plan to have the best education system in Australia, if not the world.

“We are delivering on our promise to provide a quality education to students, no matter where they live or what their circumstances may be,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Mr Perrottet said the funding demonstrated the NSW Government’s commitment to delivering a world class education system for the students of NSW.

“We don’t run surpluses for the sake of it,” Mr Perrottet said. “We run surpluses so we can give young people every opportunity to be their best.

“This record school funding is only possible as a result of strong economic management.”

Ms Mitchell said this Budget recognises the complexity of our education system.

“Not only is this Budget focused on continuing to deliver our record school infrastructure program and hiring new teachers – it also recognises the importance of mental health to student outcomes, as well as the crucial role that quality teachers play in educating our children,” Ms Mitchell said.

In another historic first, the Government will be investing $1.3 billion to clear the maintenance backlog in all public schools left by the former Labor Government by July 2020.
“All students should have the opportunity to work in the best environments possible – and this means ensuring that the 16 years of neglect of our public schools by the former Labor government never happens again,” Ms Mitchell said.

Education Budget highlights:
· $6.7 billion over the next four years to deliver 190 new and upgraded schools
· $88.4 million to hire a full time psychologist and social worker in every government high school
· $120 million over four years to expand before and after school care to make it available to all parents with kids at government primary schools
· $500 million over four years to support non-government schools in building facilities to provide more student places in growing communities
· $20 million over four years for new and existing pre-schools to build renovate or extend their facilities.


Superannuation insurance is going to change on 1 July and Legal Aid Queensland is warning consumers who have multiple superannuation funds to consider which fund offers best value for money.

Legal Aid Queensland’s Senior Lawyer (Consumer Advocate) Paul Holmes said these changes follow a Productivity Commission Superannuation Inquiry, which made a number of recommendations to prevent insurance fees or premiums from greatly reducing people’s super.

“After the changes on 1 July, inactive super accounts with low balances will be closed and either rolled into other accounts, or potentially the government-operated fund,” Mr Holmes said.

“Therefore, the problem is the fund with the lowest balance might have the best insurance cover, which people risk losing if they don’t consider their options carefully as insurance policies under super funds can vary greatly.”

Mr Holmes said while super fund operators are endeavouring to contact their customers, remote and regional Queenslanders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders may not receive their mail with enough time to be able to properly consider their options.

“We’re encouraging people to get on the front foot and check what super they have through ATO’s online services,” he said.

“We also encourage people to seek financial advice to consider whether they should keep any insurance they might have in their existing superannuation account.”

Mr Holmes said the changes may also affect people who have default insurance included in their superannuation which provides them with income protection insurance and for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD).

“If people have this kind of insurance under their superannuation and the account has been inactive for 16 months, the policy will be cancelled, regardless of the account balance,” he said.

“If consumers decide they want the insurance they will have to ensure they contribute to the account within the required time, or contact their super fund and opt in to the default insurance.”

Mr Holmes said the changes on 1 July may bring some positives for consumers, such as the removal of exit fees if people want to change their super fund, and a cap of 3 percent fees charged on any account with less than $6000 in it, but consumers must keep up-to-date with the changes affecting their super account.


Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras today announces their formal bid for WorldPride 2023.

With support from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, ANZ, Tourism Australia and Qantas, an Australian delegation sets out this week to travel to key international destinations where they will present the case for Sydney to this marquee LGBTQI festival.

WorldPride is the largest gathering of LGBTQI communities globally, and is held every two years in a host city. If Mardi Gras is successful in its pitch to InterPride – the international association of pride organisations that decides the location – it will be the first time WorldPride is held in the Southern Hemisphere.

WorldPride will bring over one million visitors to Sydney from all over the globe, for a festival which will include significant new events on top of the annual Mardi Gras program. In 2019 Sydney’s Mardi Gras festival made a $131.1 Million contribution to the NSW economy by bringing over 68,000 visitors to Sydney from interstate and around the world.

Sydney WorldPride has the potential to attract over 1 million attendees, with a total economic footprint of $600-800million

Mardi Gras Board Member and 78er Robyn Kennedy is part of the committee leading the bid process, she said “We’re excited by the potential of WorldPride Sydney 2023 – it’s the largest and most important LGBTQI festival in the world. We feel bringing this to Sydney will have a positive impact on the Asia Pacific region with regards to social justice and equality for LGBTQI communities.”

ANZ Chief Financial Officer and Pride Network Sponsor Michelle Jablko, said: “ANZ has a longstanding partnership with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and we’re proud to support them in their campaign to bring WorldPride to Sydney. This is one of the many ways ANZ demonstrates the importance we place on diversity, inclusion and respect in the workplace and broader community.”

“Every year the eyes of the world look upon Sydney as we light up the southern hemisphere with our Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras festivities,” said NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin.

“It’s exciting to think we could be bringing the world to Sydney for WorldPride2023 where we can showcase our beautiful global city to the world.

“Sydney is renowned for our inclusive and welcoming culture for all LGBTQ visitors and I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate this than by hosting WorldPride2023.”

“WorldPride is a global event and it belongs in Australia’s global city,” said Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres.

“Sydney is the events capital of the Southern Hemisphere, amazing harbour, delicious food and beverage, world class transport and a history of celebrating diversity like no other.”

WorldPride 2023 will coincide with the 45th anniversary of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. The bid’s outcome will be decided by InterPride members at the AGM in Athens in October 2019. WorldPride 2023 would include additional major events such as an 80,000-person pride march down the iconic Oxford St in Darlinghurst, an international LGBTQI human rights conference, a Bondi Beach concert for 30,000 people and many more major events accompanying Mardi Gras’ usual programming.


Minister Greg Hunt has released the outcomes of the Million Minds Mission Funding, dedicating $5 million to prevention and early intervention of eating disorders. The grant supports teams of researchers to undertake collaborative, patient-focused research that is transformative, scalable and demonstrates the greatest improvement on health outcomes and translation into policy and/or practice.

"Eating disorders are extremely complex illnesses," Health Minister Greg Hunt said. "These projects have the potential to save and protect the lives of patients with this disease."

A research team at Victoria University has received $1.3 million in order to develop innovative digital resources for the prevention and early intervention of eating disorders among young adults. They will join researchers from Deakin, Melbourne, La Trobe, and Swinburne Universities, led by Associate Professor Matt Fuller-Tyszkiewicz at Deakin University.

Dr Sian McLean, a research fellow in the Institute of Health and Sport at VU will co-lead the development of an app to engage hard-to-reach populations of young people in an early intervention program for eating disorders.

The researchers will use data to deliver intervention modules, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and media literacy (eg: prevalence of photo-shopping) in a manner that responds directly to the concerns that are considered most prominent to adolescents at that time. The app will be trialled across Australia in 2020.

Around one million Australians live with an eating disorder, however experts agree that early interventions can have a positive impact on recovery rates. Dr McLean said ”This is the first time in the world that a young person experiencing an eating disorder will receive the support that they need to address the specific risk factor that is most problematic to them, in real-time, wherever they are“.

Associate Professor Zali Yager and Professor Alex Parker will co-lead end-user engagement research in order to gather young people’s views about how they would like such an app to look and feel, and to ensure that findings are shared with participants, health professionals, and members of the community to shape impact policy and practice. In the coming weeks, the team will be seeking young people (aged over 18 years), and health professionals to join a Research Advisory Group and contribute to the project.

“Young people hold the key insights that we need to create engaging resources and programs that can be promoted through social media. We want to combine these insights with the evidence-base in order to develop some really innovative resources that directly meet their needs”, said VU’s Associate Professor Zali Yager.

To stay updated or get involved, go to: www.projectWIRED.org


The opening of the 2020 National Library of Australia Creative Arts Fellowships round was announced today by Director-General Dr Marie-Louise Ayres.

The Creative Arts Fellowship offers two $10,000 grants to support writers and artists to spend four weeks in the Library developing an artistic concept, artwork or body of work inspired by the Library’s collections. Recipients also receive special access to the collections and staff expertise.

“We encourage artists, at all stages of their professional careers, to apply for this incredible opportunity to access the Library’s extensive collections,” Dr Ayres said.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the National Library of Australia and the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust, we are delighted to offer two funded Creative Arts Fellowships again this year; the Creative Arts Fellowship and the Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing.

“Our previous Creative Arts Fellows have made fascinating discoveries and been challenged artistically by the Library’s extraordinary collection which includes books, manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, music and maps and vast digital content.

“2020 Fellows will join our community of past Fellows, have access to the Library’s expert staff, a supportive working environment and financial assistance.”

Applications close at 5pm, 19 July 2019 (AEST).

More information and the online application form are available on our website.