Divya Mohan believes that confidence is a key element in helping young people with refugee backgrounds feel connected.
Divya is a multicultural youth caseworker for SEAAC (Southern Ethnic Advisory & Advocacy Council) youth services which is now part of South east community links. SEAAC is a not for profit that helps young people who are from newly arrived refugee backgrounds such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Burma. Their mission is to help them get settled in the Australian community through programs such as driving classes, homework support programs and sports and recreation programs to have fun and get them out into the community.
“Having that sense of confidence and achievement for a young person is overall really important for social connection,” said Mohan. Playing sport can make people feel connected and highlight their strengths and talents which get recognised in the community.
Mohan mentions one young man in particular with a Burmese background that has been in the country for four years now. “[He] would definitely not have purpose today had he not been able to join a local soccer club,” she said. Soccer gave him hope for future by helping him to excel and to really shine in his interest of sport. For young people whose English is not their first language sport can be a really good way for them to feel connected to the wider community.
“He is now doing exceedingly well,” said Mohan. Now that he’s presenting his calling in sports and keeps going back to the soccer club, he now has the motivation to start working hard to find ways to support himself financially.
SEAAC also walk young people through what they have to know as part of the settlement process, and provide individual case work support. Helping young people to get involved in sport has brought incredible results through scholarships offered up by Sports Without Borders. The scholarships give them opportunities they would not otherwise have, and helps them to pursue their interests. For this young man, his scholarship has helped him get started and now he is a very committed player, with dreams that are now becoming a reality.
In the refugee camp in Thailand he used to play with his friends outside the tent. Of those who played, whoever won gave the winner 20 cents each as a prize. One day he told himself that if he wants to be playing then he wants to play for something big. But he never thought when coming to Australia that he would be able to do this. Sports without Borders is helping him realise his potential.
Special thanks to City of Monash and the ‘Let’s All Play’ program