2023 Update

2023 has been an amazing year for HARDA. It has been 20 years since our late founder Hassan Omar started HARDA to serve and empower the East African community in Australia. We are certain he would be proud of what HARDA has accomplished in the past 20 years serving the local African Australian community.

In January, HARDA volunteer Fiona Carr organised another session of our flagship ‘Swim Survive and Socialise’ Program at Seven Hills. Over 100 children took part in the two week learn-to-swim school holiday program. We were proud to announce that a number of our past participants have become swim instructors themselves and we look forward to continuing the program in January 2024 and beyond.

The Jobs for African Migrants Program achieved new heights thanks to our new employment coordinator Vanessa. Her commitment and leadership brought new energy to the program that has helped numerous women to find stable employment. Vanessa also started a youth employment project, targeting young African jobseekers and school leavers as they aim to enter employment. Vanessa was assisted by an intern from ACU Jessica, who was instrumental in delivering the program. We were sad to say goodbye to Jessica as she moved on to pursue her career in teaching, but we are excited to have Sienna come on board as our new intern.

HARDA was recognised numerous times throughout the year: Clubs NSW awarded HARDA for our swimming program; Inner West local council recognised our President Sajjad Versi and our long-time Secretary Michael Muhlbauer during volunteer week; Commonwealth Bank Flemington Markets Branch awarded us a prize for our community work; and HARDA also received a highly-commended award for outstanding work with CALD young people.

Internationally, HARDA delivered two projects in Ethiopia: Sintayehu Haile (HARDA executive) fundraised among the community for the drought-affected Oromia region in Ethiopia; and Treasurer Girma Dabi organised the delivery of hospital beds to Ethiopia. In Kenya, HARDA and Global Aid Fund sponsored the tertiary education of a student named Nimo. We are proud to announce Nimo has completed her tertiary studies and is on track to fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.

HARDA would like to thank all the funding bodies and sponsors for our various projects this year. We would also like to thank our community partner organisations who have assisted and collaborated on several projects.

HARDA would also like to acknowledge the Edmund Rice Centre for its continuous support over the last 20 years. ERC has provided HARDA with the office space we have needed for the last two decades.

HARDA would also like to thank the many volunteers who continue to give their time and energy to ensure our community continues to grow and prosper.

Finally, and most importantly, HARDA would like to thank our community for taking part in our programs and being involved since 2003. We look forward to celebrating and working together for many more years to come.

2024 Swim, Survive and Socialize Program Update

Harda is pleased to report that this year’s Swim, Survive and Socialize program was very successful. Nearly 100 kids participated (97 children aged 5-15), with slightly more boys than girls attending this year. Participants were primarily from South Sudanese backgrounds but also included those with Sudanese, Somali, and Ethiopian and a few other CALD backgrounds. The program provided them with the opportunity to learn water safety and survival techniques as well as swimming lessons. It was great to see our participants learning and enjoying an activity that is part of the Australian way of life.

The Program was held, as always, at the Royal Lifesaving facility, the Aquatic Safety Training Academy (ASTA) in Seven Hills and ran during the last two weeks of the school holidays from Monday, 15 January to Thursday, 25 January 2024. The program ran daily over the two weeks from 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and consisted of four 45-minute sessions. This also provided parents with a break and a nice venue to meet and socialize while their kids burned off their energy in the pool. The parents spent one of the sessions learning CPR and pool safety, empowering them and enhancing their communities’ safety.

The kids had a great deal of fun. All of them made great progress in their swimming and water safety skills and each received a certificate of accomplishment (as well as lollies and fruit!) at the conclusion of the program. We receive a report from the pool detailing each child’s level at completion of the program, allowing us to track their progress.

We are happy to continue to hear reports of kids having their bags packed for swimming many days in advance, waking parents early in the morning in anticipation of swimming later that day, and being very excited to attend the activity. They benefited from the exercise and activity and the parents were happy that they were learning swimming and water safety in a safe and secure environment.

Youth Support Hub

To support the Jobs for African Youth Program, which seeks to address the issue of youth disengagement and unemployment, HARDA are starting a Youth Support Hub.

As attendees of the JAYP program often recommend the program to friends and family, there is a real need for equipping young people with the tools, resources, and skills needed to identify a career path that matches their strengths and interests, while also finding suitable employment and training opportunities

The Youth Support Hub will meet once a month, and will assist with obtaining documentation and identification, filling out forms, and providing referrals. Overall, the program continues to make an impact on young people and continues to grow.

Jobs for African Youth Program

The Jobs for African Youth Program seeks to address the issue of youth disengagement and unemployment by equipping young people with the tools, resources, and skills needed to identify a career path that matches their strengths and interests while also finding suitable employment and training opportunities.

While the initial goal of the program was to get young people into employment, it became clear that there were many complexities involved including substance abuse, mental health issues, family breakdown, unstable housing, and incarceration or other involvement with the criminal justice system. To address these interconnected issues we have been referring to other organisations, providing extra support, and understanding that for many youths, transitioning into the workforce is an ongoing process that requires collaboration and patience.

Since starting the program in 2023, we have seen a significant increase in numbers, with almost 50 young people engaging with the program. The program has proven to be successful with over 85% of those who have exited the course getting either a job or enrolling in study (e.g. Uni, TAFE, apprenticeship, etc) or both. While these tangible outcomes remain a primary goal, there are other ways to measure the success of the program such as an increase in confidence, employability skills, reliability, and the willingness to address the other interconnected issues.

While they may have exited the program, we still offer ongoing support, and some have returned to the program after being unable to maintain employment or facing further challenges. For example, one participant who joined after being released from prison ended up incarcerated again. However, in the last month he was released and has been back to the program.

Most importantly the feedback from the youth themselves has been positive as demonstrated in the following quotes and messages:

“The program has helped me stay motivated and focus on my employment goals.”

“Thank you for not giving up on me when I was being very hardheaded.”

Vanessa has provided me with the most exceptional support in the past year. She has been on a long journey with me in hunt for a permanent job and going   back to school. Vanessa also checks on my well-being and progress and doesn’t give up even when I feel discouraged. I want to thank the program for introducing people like Vanessa to help the youth, they make a difference to the world”.

“I loved everything about the program especially how patient and helpful they were. It was fun but also taught me new skills that I didn’t know about before”.

“This program has provided me with invaluable support in helping me secure a position at the Department of Communities and Justice. It’s equipped me with essential employment skills and how to formulate a more professional resume and cover letter. Vanessa and Fiona actually introduced me to the STAR method of interview questions which I ended up needing in my interview, so that was a score! I love the personal approach they take, centred on my goals. Having my best interest at heart, the program has helped me take the first steps into my career journey”.

“Thanks so much, I couldn’t have done it without you”.

“Thanks for not judging me based on our first interaction but being patient with me until I was comfortable”.

Project Harmony

Project Harmony aims to provide vital swimming lessons for children aged 3 – 6 years, who are not currently enrolled into lessons.
The project is a maximum of 10 lessons and has a cost of $50  OR  the cost of their First Lap Voucher from the NSW Government, if they have one.
These classes will have a maximum of 3 children per class (it cannot go over this capacity), with 1 teacher per class and run for a total of 30 minutes.
We are currently running them in our centre but also have the ability to open it up in the upcoming July school holidays.

Starting Project Harmony now:

  • Maximum of 10 lessons over 10 weeks, per child. (1 class per week )
  • There are no makeup lessons should a class be missed.
  • Children must be 3 – 6 years of age and not currently enrolled in school
  • Children must not already be doing swimming lessons.
  • Must have an unused NSW Government First Lap Voucher or be willing to pay $50 per child at the time of enrolment.
  • Can contact the centre directly for availability and to enrol

Project Harmony School Holidays:

  • There will be a maximum of 2 teachers per day, running 3 classes each per day. (18 students total)
  • Each class can hold a maximum of 3 children.
  • Will be run Monday – Friday of the school holidays with times TBD
  • There are no makeup lessons should a class be missed.
  • Children must be 3 – 6 years of age and not currently enrolled in school
  • Children must not already be doing swimming lessons.
  • Must have an unused NSW Government First Lap Voucher or be willing to pay $50 per child at the time of enrolment.
  • Can contact the centre directly for availability and to enrol OR can be done with you providing we can access the vouchers or payments, well before the holiday program starts.

We cannot open up school holiday classes without knowing how many children will definitely enrol and attend.

As this project is partially funded and needs to meet set requirements, we cannot provide a bus to pick up/drop off students. 

Bookings – Aquatic Academy Seven Hills
P (02) 8814 8637
E sevenhills@royalnsw.com.au
W www.aquaticacademy.com.au
S https://www.facebook.com/AquaticAcademySevenHills

Aquatic Academy Denistone East
P (02) 9067 3840
E denistoneeast@royalnsw.com.au
W https://aquaticacademy.com.au/denistone-east
S https://www.facebook.com/AquaticAcademyDenistoneEast

HARDA is 20 years old!

HARDA is 20 years old!
HARDA officially became an incorporated association in November 2003. Our founder and first president, the late Omar Hassan, was a passionate advocate for the refugees and migrants who arrived in Sydney in the early 2000s.
HARDA’s vision has always been to help people from the countries of the Horn of Africa to settle in Australia.
Over the years, HARDA has run many projects and fund-raising appeals in Australia and overseas.
This work would not have been possible without all the volunteers who have dedicated time to HARDA. We are also grateful for the organisations and individual donors who have provided funds for our work.
HARDA’s biggest benefactor has been the Edmund Rice Centre, which has given us a home from which to operate. Our particular thanks go to Phil Glendenning for his unwavering support.
Last but not least we thank the communities for their participation and their trust.
Hopefully, HARDA can continue its work for many years yet.
Sajjad Versi

Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) Media release

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) welcomes the Federal Government’s package of reforms announced on Monday designed to address migrant worker exploitation.

The Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles committed to introducing three important protections for migrant workers: protection against visa cancellation; flexible visa requirements for future sponsorship visas; and a short-term visa to bring claims for wages they are owed and hold exploitative employers to account.

SCOA has long been advocating for reforms to migrant worker exploitation and visa protections. Led by the Human Rights Law Centre, Migrant Justice Institute and academics at UNSW and UTS, SCOA joined a nationwide coalition of 40 organisations to urge the Federal Government to implement whistleblower safeguards that would empower migrant workers to report instances of exploitation without jeopardising their visa status.

SCOA Chair Melissa Monteiro said: “Adequate safeguards and protections to stamp out exploitation of migrant workers are long overdue and these reforms will empower migrant workers and hold non-compliant employers to account.”

SCOA CEO Sandra Elhelw Wright said: “We are thrilled with this outcome and commend the Government for taking measures to improve conditions for migrant workers. This is an incredible achievement that has been made possible thanks to the tireless campaigning by organisations and individuals dedicated to addressing exploitation.” 

“Settlement services play a crucial role in protecting against migrant worker exploitation. Migrant workers may face language barriers and cultural differences that make it challenging to navigate their rights and seek help. Our network of services provides essential information to migrant workers about their rights, labour laws, and available resources,” Ms Elhelw Wright added.

The new measures will:

  • Make it a criminal offense to coerce someone into breaching their visa condition;
  • Introduce prohibition notices to stop employers from further hiring people on temporary visas where they have exploited migrants;
  • Increase penalties and new compliance tools to deter exploitation; and
  • Repeal section 235 of the Migration Act which actively undermines people reporting exploitative behaviour.

SCOA looks forward to working with the Government on these reforms to ensure all migrants and refugees are free from exploitation. 

About The Settlement Council of Australia 

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) is the peak body representing services across Australia supporting new migrants and refugees. We are committed to building an Australia where every migrant and refugee feels at home, together with our membership which is over 115 members strong and counting. We are a trusted source of policy advice, and a thought leader on enhancing the economic and social inclusion of migrants and refugees. The services of our members range from greeting new arrivals at the airport, through to assisting them to secure housing, learn English, make social connections, access services and find their first job. Australia’s settlement services are recognised as being among the best in the world.

2023 Swim, Survive and Socialise

The 2023 annual Harda Swim and Survive Program provided 108 kids and youth, aged 6-16 years old, with the opportunity to learn water safety and survival techniques, as well as swimming lessons. The program ran from Mon Jan 9th – Fri Jan 20th, the last 2 full weeks of the school holidays, with each child having a daily 45 minute session. It was held, as always, at the royal Lifesaving facility, Aquatic Safety Training Academy (ASTA) in Seven Hills. While the parents were able to socialise with other parents we did run a water safety session for them to increase water safety awareness in our Horn of Africa communities.

Everyone had lots of fun and made great progress on their swimming skills and capability. Harda & the community thank Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic club for their ongoing support of this much loved and enjoyed summer program.

2022 Swim, Survive and Socialise

HARDA ran the 2022 session of our flagship Swim, Survive and Socialise Program (delayed from the January school holidays due to COVID) daily over the two-week Easter 2022 school break. As always, the program was a success and the children and families who attended appreciated and enjoyed the lessons. Over one hundred participants were initially enrolled in the two-week program. Some highlights of this year’s session included:

·      The parent safety session, which was very well-received, and attended by the majority of the mothers present on the day. The parents asked a lot of questions and enjoyed doing CPR on the dummies.

·      One of our previous program participants was working as an instructor during the session, so it felt like the program had come full circle.

2023 Swimming program enrollment now open

The HARDA 2023 Swim, Survive  & Socialise, our free summer swimming program for 6 – 17yo is now open for enrollments. The 10 day program will take place on weekdays from Mon 9th Jan – Fri 20th Jan 2023. If you wish to enroll your kids please fill in this form (download link is below) ASAP & email it back to harda@harda.org.au or contact Fiona Carr on 0434 187 753 if you have any queries.