Each family has different needs – some might need help to enrol their children in school, others might need a hand to open a bank account or find a support group. Red Cross sets up a personalised support plan for each family.
Our teams also organise Welcome to Country experiences, community-led orientations in new suburbs and towns, and help people find volunteering opportunities, community groups and local services.
Most recently, Gordana supported a family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “They’re pretty new in Australia and speak Swahili. They have difficulty with the English language and I will speak with the interpreter.”
She went with them to medical appointments and helped them work out where to buy everything from food and clothing to lightbulbs. And when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and she couldn’t visit in person she checked in with them through regular phone calls.
“I ask them about how they cope in this situation, how they sleep, if they need something. I ask about her children’s health, about her health, how is she managing with things every day.”
The family didn’t yet know many people in their community, she says. “They were asking me where can they meet people from Congo … They feel a little bit isolated at the beginning, which is normal. But with time they’ll meet new people.
“They struggle [too] a little bit with not having access to computers and internet, that’s a big thing because if they have a computer we can talk on Skype or Viber.”
Without a computer, life was also much harder for them when the schools closed and their children were studying from home, Gordana says.
At the moment fewer refugees and humanitarian entrants are arriving in Australia, due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions. So right now Gordana is working with refugees already living here helping them to improve their English language skills.
She says she likes having the chance to give back to the community and meet new people.