Shared experiences help

Support: Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre settlement grant program team leader Deena Yako. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

Support: Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre settlement grant program team leader Deena Yako. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

HERSELF a refugee who arrived in Australia from Iraq when she was just 13, Deena Yako finds it easy to relate to the people she helps every day.

Mrs Yako, is the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre's settlement grant program leader and helps people to navigate the transition to life in Australia.

"The majority of my clients come from traumatised backgrounds, some have experienced torture and have come from war-torn countries," Mrs Yako said.

"Often they are dealing with grief from the loss of family members and that can impact on you as a worker, too.

"But this work is so rewarding. Things that seem small to us can really impact so greatly on these people's lives and it's a wonderful feeling to be able to help them."

Mrs Yako said she is often touched by the experiences of the people she meets in her work due to her own experiences as a refugee.

"I was 13 when my family and I came to Australia so I remember the whole journey and how difficult it was to adjust to a new country."

She said it was important during Refugee Week this week, that Australians reflected on their attitudes towards refugees.

"We're such an intelligent nation, but a lot of people have the wrong idea about refugees.

"No one would flee their country for no reason, obviously there is a reason that people are running away from their homeland and it's because they are victimised there.

"We've got to look at the deeper issues and the reasons that people are leaving and understand that it's not an easy thing to do."

Her role involves providing information and referrals to people to make it easier for them to settle into Australia.

"We teach them how to navigate the services available to them and advocate on their behalf."

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