Recently our staff at the Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub were invited to participate at a Refugee Panel with writer, poet, activist and refugee Flora Chol. Hosted by the Salesians of Don Bosco, two of our mental health professionals Nicholas Mueller and Giam D’Amico spoke about their experiences working with this vulnerable community and how it has impacted them.
They reflected on the reasons why people flee their countries. This not only include escaping war but also can be due to having a different sexual orientation which is not accepted in the community, escaping chronic domestic violence or fleeing sexual violence. This led to an interesting discussion on these issues as normally we associate seeking asylum with war, however it became clear the situation of each individual can be more complex.
Both of them with Flora opened up, answering questions about the realities of entering Australia as a person seeking asylum such as being unable to gain work rights as well as having no access to welfare and Medicare which is creating a dangerous cycle of poverty and trauma for some people.
Flora spoke about her experience as a refugee from Sudan and how she has been using her experience to advocate for the community and build peace through her workshops, writing and activism.
Through the differing experiences of the panel it became clear that having the conversation, getting to know your neighbours and upholding the dignity of others is vital at this time.
We would like to extend our thanks to the Salesian community who invited us to this event and gave Cabrini Outreach and the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub the opportunity to discuss the work they are doing in the footsteps of Mother Cabrini, the Patron Saint of Immigrants.
Our panellists: Flora Chol and Cabrini Mental Health Clinicians led by the moderator Romina Martinello