It’s one thing to live in a community, another to feel a welcomed and valued part of it. Social isolation can limit an individual’s ability to reach their potential, achieve happiness and participate in and give back to society. Promoting social inclusion among our participants and clients and building initiatives and practices to improve social cohesion with the wider community are key principles of SSI’s Social Impact Framework – and a foundational element of our mission.
SSI’s long-term outcome goals in this area are to give individuals the autonomy and freedom they need to develop as people and live the lives they choose. This includes having the ability to express themselves, enjoy a social life and achieve a greater sense of belonging. In the interim, our goal is to provide a platform for individuals to preserve cultural identity and values. We strive to link people to community-based organisations and activities that promote social cohesion and community participation. These activities help people develop social bonds, social bridges and social links integral to their sense of agency and empowerment. This in turn helps them develop a sense of their rights and social responsibilities.
Below are examples of programs that contribute to Social Inclusion outcomes for our clients. Each program may also contribute to one or more of our other delivery outcomes.
The Ability Links NSW program supported people living with disability to develop links and connections in their local and extended communities, as well as promoting greater inclusion within communities. During the year, SSI’s ‘Linkers’ helped 430 program participants to achieve their goals and were involved in 1,312 events. These included youth support groups, men’s health sessions, women’s hideout group and information sessions. During the COVID-19 lockdown, some 250 phone calls were made in six languages to provide support and information.
State-funded service Ability Links NSW ceased operations on 30 June 2020 as part of a plan to streamline linking services nationally, with service functions transitioning into the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) component of NDIS Local Area Coordination (LAC). SSI’s Linkers were transferred to support our successful LAC tender.
Multilingual Disability Hub
People born in a non-English-speaking country have similar rates of disability as other Australians but are about half as likely to receive formal assistance. Part of SSI’s FutureAbility initiative, the national Multilingual Disability Hub was a multilingual hotline and website providing relevant and easily accessible information on disability and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 14 languages. In FY2020, operating hours were extended from one day a week to five and engagement strategies saw large increases in usage of the service by targeted communities.
There are potential major advantages to humanitarian arrivals settling in regional rather than urban areas. Smaller regional communities may provide a friendlier, less threatening environment for people subjected to trauma, and new settlers can bring new life to country towns. In December 2019, SSI published a white paper titled All in for Armidale, exploring a whole-of-community approach to helping settlers feel welcome and achieve optimal outcomes in areas such as education and employment. The research provided ways of potentially increasing social inclusion and is based on the experience of the Ezidi refugees in Armidale.
Community Information Sessions
SSI staged numerous information sessions across the year aimed at helping people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to benefit from the same activities as the wider community. Another part of SSI’s FutureAbility initiative, Community Information Sessions supported people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to access information on disability and the NDIS in their language. Across NSW, 47 sessions were completed delivering benefits to 650 people, achieving an indirect reach of 3200 individuals. SSI ceased operations of its FutureAbility program on 30 June 2020 and consolidated resources with the successful LAC tender.
Welcome to Sydney
Welcome2Sydney (W2S) is a Community Engagement Project that fosters belonging and inclusion in newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers. The program connects established residents of Greater Sydney with newly arrived families/individuals from refugee backgrounds living in Sydney, to engage in fun group activities that increase their sense of belonging and understanding of their new home. Supported through a City of Parramatta Council grant, over 600 individuals including 120 families and 40 volunteers have participated in the program since January 2019. Participants were predominantly from Syria and Iraq, followed by families from Iran, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tamil, India, Vietnam, China and Tibet. W2S engaged with over 30 hosts and partners, 16 local partners and 12 local businesses participated in the program.
Harmony Place is a community-based organisation that provides support in NDIS, mental health and individual counselling, and care coordination to people from all walks of life. Throughout FY2020, the service supported individuals living with a psychosocial disability, facilitating social interaction and developing long-term social skills.
The arts are an incredibly effective way of building social bridges. In collaboration with SSI’s Queensland business, Access, the Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre (BEMAC) offers programs and activities to diverse communities to encourage inclusion and self development. BEMAC’s activities attracted 4,370 participants, with 944 artists and arts workers receiving payment, including 356 from regional Queensland during FY2020.
Access Education and Training
The Access Education and Training Services division has established a number of relationships with employers in the community which are leveraged to offer opportunities for clients to undertake practical work experience. This allows participants to develop opportunities that can lead to employment that also develop valuable social and professional networks.
Community Support Program
The federal government’s Community Support Program enables communities and businesses, as well as families and individuals, to propose humanitarian visa applicants with employment prospects and to support new humanitarian arrivals in their settlement journey. During FY2020, SSI activated its status as Approved Proposing Organisation (APO) under the program, authorised to propose applicants who are in humanitarian situations overseas. The CSP program is collecting statistics on CSP Preliminary Assessment Forms (PAF) applications to inform evidence-based research collection and social impact assessments.
In FY2020, our outputs* relating to Social Inclusion included:
633 child and youth focused group sessions were delivered in NSW;
453 children and 356 parents were engaged by Logan Community Hubs;
380 children and 317 parents were engaged by Ipswich Community Hubs.
445 youth packages were delivered by the Humanitarian Settlement Program Youth Committee in NSW;
430 NSW Ability Links program participants were helped to achieving their goals;
1,312 NSW Ability Link events connected people living with a disability to community activities.