From “living hell” to hope and development of skills and opportunity in the “lucky country”
From a “living hell” in the Middle East to picking up industry-needed skills that will lead to greater job security, two refugees working on the new Lendlease Sales Office project in Yarrabilba have become a beacon for triumph over adversity.
Toiling away with new workmates, 45 kilometres south of Brisbane, Mohannad Shekho from Syria and Sam Safdari from Afghanistan are key members in a special residential housing project designed to set a new benchmark for environmentally-friendly and sustainable housing design, while also meeting National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Special Disability Assistance (SDA) requirements.
Creating Positive Futures was commissioned by Lendlease based on its partners’ design and construction capability, as well as its capacity to deliver the best collective impact and social purpose outcomes. The project is to build a house that meets the above disability standards which will be used initially as the new sales office and then become home to a family requiring this type of disability support.
Last year, CPF partners helped deliver Lendlease’s first Yarrabilba Sustainable Home. Its smart planning and design, including passive solar heating and cooling, insulation polished concrete flooring and glazed windows resulted in a 8.9-star NatHERS rating.
CPF Chair, John Godwin said the new project focused on delivering best-quality ‘triple bottom-line’ social and affordable housing solutions, as well as creating sustainable jobs, skills, mentoring and training opportunities for struggling Australians, new immigrants, refugees Indigenous Australians.
“Education, mentoring, training in industry-demand skills and on-the-job training are the greatest enabler for people who want a reliable job and a more fulfilling and productive career pathway,” Mr Godwin said.
“Our team’s goal is to always deliver best-possible project outcomes, while providing support, training and skills for the people most in need of a stable job and a sustainable career.”
Mr Safdari aged 45, a refugee from Afghanistan who arrived in Australia in 2011, is now a fully accredited and licensed painter who worked with CPF project delivery partner, Access Employment Services.
Mr Shekho, aged 45, a refugee from Syria who arrived in Australia in 2016, is now a qualified engineer. He gained valuable experience with the CPF project planning, design and construct team – alongside Rowlinson Architects – this experience led to gainful employment in Sydney.
Both Mr Safdari and Mr Shekho had different journeys into the project team. Both were hard-earned. They escaped the “living hell” that was Afghanistan in 2011 and Syria not long after. Against all odds, both of them found their way to Australia.
Providing a sanctuary for desperate people fleeing oppression in other parts of the world, as well as helping them secure a job, is a big part of Australia’s history.
Since World War Two, more than seven million people have migrated to Australia, contributing to one of the most diverse nations in the world.
“Modern Australia is a nation built on immigration and shaped by the settlement experience of migrants and refugees,” said the Australian Government.
And, loudly and proudly sung at sporting events all over the world, the Australian national anthem seemingly embodies a timeless tradition – a promise – from the heart, mind and soul of its people.
-FQ (2021 updates by LR)
“Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are one and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil …
For those who’ve come across the seas,
We’ve boundless plains to share.”
“You can retire from a job,
but don’t ever retire from
making extremely meaningful
contributions in life.”