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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 165

Ms BIRD (12:23 PM) —I want to take the opportunity in the adjournment today to recognise National Refugee Week this week and to put on the record the work of an organisation in my own area called SCARF. I am very proud to be a patron of SCARF, and I am constantly amazed at the resilience and optimism of the human spirit when I meet the people that they have been working with in my local community.

This year’s theme of National Refugee Week is ‘the voice of young refugees’. It is aimed at focusing attention on the contribution, ideas and concerns of refugee children, teenagers and young adults. SCARF stands for Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families. It has over 40 volunteers and provides assistance to approximately 100 children from 45 families. SCARF is an independent not-for-profit community based incorporated association established to enhance the resettlement process of permanent resident status humanitarian visa refugees in the Illawarra.

The theme for this year’s Refugee Week relates well to the services that SCARF make available, as many of their programs are focused on assistance to refugee children, teenagers and young adults. Their main program, Homework Help, is a homework tutoring program held at Wollongong Library and at Barnados in Warrawong. But they also provide other forms of assistance, including obtaining second-hand computers, mentoring programs, education programs and workplace experience programs.

I want to take the opportunity to recognise the volunteers of this organisation. These include Julie Telenta and Colleen Derbyshire, from Warrawong High School, who assist with English as a second language classes. Many local primary school teachers and tutors also provide direct assistance to students, including Julie Thomas, Jennifer Jones, Josie Castle, Bev Loades, Madeline Roberts, Alyson Evans, Warwick Hilton, Christina Goss, Juliette Wight-Boycott, Dennis Whitfield, John Coll, Anu Gasper, Lara Leiberman, Kerry Pedersen, Ann Devenish, Peter McCall, Amanda Dean, Pat Dean, Annabelle Liesert, Jan Kent, Dorothy Jones and chairperson Graham Blunden and his wife, Gwen.

SCARF draws together a wealth of experience and expertise to provide refugee families with many types of assistance. I would particularly like to identify Chris Cartledge, who is SCARF’s self-confessed IT man. To date, Chris has helped to provide computers, donated from the community, to 16 families. He installs the computers and provides them with training. SCARF funds internet access for those families for the first six months. A number of these computers have gone to help refugees who are studying at TAFE and university.

SCARF also provides social support to refugee families. Many of the women are here with their children, but without their husbands. SCARF have volunteers who take them shopping and help with the interfacing of other community services. One of their more recent, and I think very valuable, programs involves helping these refugee families with learning to drive and to complete their 50 hours of supervised driving, as required by New South Wales regulations. Their first graduate, Eugenia Pyne, recently obtained her P-plates. She is a mother of five children, and her husband is currently teaching at a camp in Guinea. Chris Cartledge helped her purchase a van so that she is able to become more independent and transport her five children. She rang him recently, as she was very excited about doing her first shopping trip to ALDI on her own on behalf of her family, although she indicated she was a bit worried about getting in and out of the car park. I think we all share that concern with her about some car parks! Five other people have just obtained their L-plates and SCARF volunteers are helping them get on the road to complete their 50 hours. Being able to drive increases their independence, and it is clearly an important service provided by these volunteers.

SCARF has a very strong committee, including secretary, Sharyn Mackenzie; Graham Blunden as the chairperson; Treasurer, Terry Nutt; Jane Coburn, who assists with publicity and promotion; and, Sarah Chisholm, who writes submissions for funding. Sharyn and her husband, Kel, have operated SCARF out of their spare bedroom for the last two years and have given a huge amount of time and resources to assisting refugee families to settle and successfully integrate in the Illawarra. I commend all of the people involved in this volunteering. I am sorry that they recently failed in receiving a federal government grant but I am sure that, with continued support, they will go from strength to strength in our local community.