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Refugees making a difference: "I just wanted to give something back to Australian society"

After arriving in Australia from Iran in 2012, Ali wanted to give something back to the community that embraced him. Now, he volunteers with Red Cross' emergency services and helps communities prepare for disasters.

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"When I came to Australia in 2012, Red Cross helped me move on with my life. In my own way, I just wanted to give something back to Australian society.

"I wanted to volunteer with the emergency services because its deals with unexpected events where people are desperate to receive help. Although those conditions are out of everybody's control, we can still provide help where it's needed.

"I'd never been in a cyclone before but, during Cyclone Marcia, I saw first hand what happens when a disaster like that occurs. People got injured, the services are lost. The water, electricity, telephone-all of those are gone. I saw how lots of people weren't prepared mentally for the disaster. I saw what happens to people and how important it is for the services to be there.

"When there are disasters, there's a lot of information available to help people before, during and after the event. But if they don't understand the information, if they can't get that information, then their lives are at risk and in danger. If they cannot speak English fluently, there's a chance they won't know to take shelter or move away and so they might come to harm's way.

"Volunteering during that cyclone was a very important experience for me and one that I will never forget-my life was enriched by being in those circumstances. We're all human and I wanted to have the opportunity to help other people regardless of their race, religion or creed.

"I've been a Red Cross volunteer for three years now and I'm very grateful for that opportunity. When I needed help they gave it to me. In whatever way I can, I would like to repay that help and express my thanks to the Australian people."

and helped me get to where I am today -it's just the least I could do. I think it should be an important thing for everybody.

"'Why do you do what you do?' is probably the most asked question I get. To me, it's like common sense. Well, why wouldn't you do it?"

Make a difference: 5 ways you can help refugees in your community

[**** Image of Help refugees and asylum seekers in your community****]

Australia is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world and there are many things you can do to make your community an even more welcoming, more supportive and more inclusive place to live.

You could offer someone practical help to settle in, show someone how to access the local services, help them to learn or practice English, or help to establish friendships and networks.

Here's five easy things you can do to help refugees and asylum seekers where you live.

Refugee stories: making a difference

[****Image of Sarmed from Shepparton****] 
Sarmed from Shepparton: "It's the least I could do"
[****Image of Elaheh from Melbourne****]  
Elaheh from Melbourne: "This country and its people helped to make me stronger"

[****Image of Tara from Adelaide****] 
Tara from Adelaide: "It's about giving people hope"
[****Image of Simon from Canberra****]  
Simon from Canberra: "Cooking for the community is my passion"


How Red Cross makes a difference

Red Cross' Migration Support Programs assist refugees, asylum seekers, people in detention centres, people who may have been trafficked or forced into marriage, people who've been separated from their loved ones and other people who are vulnerable as a result of migration.

We work with people regardless of how they arrived in Australia and regardless of their immigration status because we believe that everyone deserves the right to dignity and respect.

Find out how Red Cross is making a difference to the lives of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants.

To help us, you can donate to our work supporting refugees and asylum seekers in crisis.


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