After a pilot project in 2017, the Edmund Rice Centre launched the Syrian and Iraqi Refugees Empowerment Project (SIREP) in early 2018. The overall aim of the project is to help newly-arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Sydney with their immediate resettlement and long-term integration. The project has three interconnected components:
- Mentor program
- Partnership building
- Annual Research project
The mentor program aims to assist newly arrived refugees in Sydney to articulate their needs, concerns and expectations. Volunteer mentors from Edmund Rice Centre work with the person they are assisting to assess their overall situation, identify their concerns and expectations, evaluate their professional needs, and assist them with finding a way forward. In doing so, mentors work with mentees to set short-term and long-term goals for mentees, and to identify and access the resources and services needed to achieve these goals.
The second component is building working relationships and establishing referral partnerships with relevant stakeholders and organisations working in the refugee support and empowerment space, including:
- Religious and community leaders from the Syrian and Iraqi refugee community who are aware of the settlement needs and integration requirements of their communities.
- Community organisations, service providers, schools and colleges that are directly or indirectly engaged with Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
- Employment service providers, education assistance organisations and business support initiatives that support newly-arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
The third component is to prepare and publish an annual research report, reflecting on the resettlement experience of newly-arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Sydney. The research aims to inform relevant stakeholders, including government agencies, non-government organisations and the private sector about the opportunities, challenges and difficulties of resettlement and integration of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.