Refugee students recognised for excelling in their studies in Australia

Australian support services invest in the potential of young refugee students through scholarship program.

Kadi with her mother and teacher after receiving her scholarship.
© UNHCR/Tina Kuek

Canberra Refugee Support celebrated World Refugee Day by awarding scholarships to 39 refugees and asylum seekers to foster their education and settlement.

Proudly receiving an award at the 2016 event, was Kadi. She grew up in a refugee camp in Guinea where she had no formal education and was unable to speak English.

At the age of 17, Kadi was resettled to Australia by UNHCR. She was a dedicated student in her English classes and quickly excelled, becoming a fluent speaker.

She has since gained a Certificate III in Aged Care and Home and Community Care and is grateful for the help and support given to her by her teachers.

“I would like to continue studying, leading to a career in nursing or community services. I want a career in which I can help other people,” she says.

For the past 11 years, Canberra Refugee Support has awarded scholarships to students with a refugee background. The not-for-profit refugee settlement and advocacy organisation’s scholarship program is supported through the donations and generosity of the Canberra community and recognises the performance of outstanding refugee students.

“These awards strongly support the ACT government’s formal declaration of the Territory as a Refugee Welcome Zone” says Geoff McPherson, CRS President. “The ACT was the first State or Territory to do this, and as a community we are rightfully proud that we welcome and support people seeking protection”.

This year, a record number of 39 students from diverse backgrounds, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Guinea and Vietnam, were awarded scholarships. Recipients included school students studying in the ACT who are learning English and want to start a career that will contribute to the Canberra community.

Kim arrived from Vietnam three years ago and spent sixteen months in Australian detention centres.  © UNHCR/Tina Kuek

Kim, another scholarship recipient, arrived from Vietnam three years ago and spent sixteen months in Australian detention centers where she taught English to other detainee children and adults before being recognised as a refugee.

Kim hopes to study Allied Health Assistance or Nursing at the Canberra Institute of Technology. “I would like to work in a health field, either as a physiotherapy assistant or nurse, with a long term plan to become a physiotherapist,” she says.

Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR Regional Representative, spoke at the event about the importance of investing in young refugees to respond to the refugee crisis.

“We all know that refugees are human beings, like all of us – only with the misfortune of having to fear persecution, because of their religion, their political opinion, their nationality, their gender-orientation or their ethnic background,” says Thomas Albrecht.

“The search for solutions needs to start at one important point:  a recognition that refugees are not helpless objects, but the central contributors. Young people, young refugees are the future and we need to invest in them”.