A project run by a former refugee from Iraq who was resettled in Australia and uses her story to build good relations between refugees and host communities.
About the project
Meet Fadak (MF) is a project run by a former refugee from Iraq who was resettled in Australia on the humanitarian program and through a family reunion process in 2003. Fadak saw the stark change in policy and attitudes that refugees were experiencing since her arrival. She wanted to use her story to make a sustained and positive difference to build cohesiveness between refugees and host communities.
Fadak travels around Australia, usually where large numbers of refugee settlement had taken place, to tell her story. The model of her project is that she shares her story, a host community member/organisation shares the story of their community (including how they came to host refugees and the positives and challenges of that journey) and someone of refugee background who was settled in that community tells their story of being settled in that community.
MF directly responds to the need for positive attitudes towards refugees (locally and world-wide), rewriting the negatives and politicised narrative and to building ongoing cohesiveness between the host community and refugees.
MF brought together partners from government, the private sector and civil society as it was seen as a project that is much needed, positive and with achievable goals.
Main activities include:
Whilst recognising that positive social attitudes towards refugees are essential to state contributions towards protection commitments and pledges, Fadak worked on reaching an audience of hundreds of thousands through partnerships with private sector, public sector (including local, state and national governments) ethical corporations, civil society, non-governmental entities and community groups.
Promoting refugee contributions to their host communities through story telling by Fadak (as a refugee rep.), a host community member and a refugee who has been settled recently, both from the community where the event is taking place.
Promoting and mainstreaming durable solutions from the outset, including providing employment and education opportunities to refugees upon arrival and showcasing examples of refugee self-reliance.
Stimulating social cohesion by way of responding to social and cultural needs of the host community and after seeing the extent of damage caused to the social fabric of the community and to perceptions of safety as a result of refugee settlement.
Conducting research and gathering information
Evaluation of the speaking events was done to ask participants about the extent of change in their attitudes and behaviours after hearing from the speakers who share their stories. Reports of high levels of change of attitudes were shown and these included participants reporting that they are more confident in standing up to racism and marginalisation of refugees, that they have learnt more about the topic of refugees by hearing Fadak (and other speakers) during the event and that they have changes their attitudes towards diversity, inclusion and cohesion based on the speaking event.
The project is aligned with the Compact because it supports local integration by promoting social cohesion.
Challenges in implementing the project and how they are being addressed
Funding has not been possible and Fadak (and her team) have volunteered their time to this project. There is however a big community support stream where Fadak and her team were able to raise $10,000 through online crowd funding to go towards travel costs, marketing and communications costs throughout the project.
Mainstream media access has somewhat been a challenge. Although Fadak has had a lot of access to media, particularly for someone who most Australians didn’t know at the start of 2018, there is still a lot more to do in this area. Fadak has had access to what is known in Australia as ‘objective and independent’ media, rather than the media where a lot of the opposition and some of the moveable middle lie.