The Refugee Hub - a place of welcome

The Refugee Hub is a place of welcome for both the newly arrived in Newcastle as well as to those who have been in Australia for some years. We aim to “walk the path” with the newly arrived, empower them, teach them and give them a pathway to independence.

In August, we had to move from the premises at 3 Wilson Street, which has been the home to Refugee Hub for many years. Nonetheless, the Refugee Hub will be maintaining its important work whilst it settles into a new home at Mayfield.

Our Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP)/ SEE Language Support Program has been running for many years under the leadership of a dedicated volunteer, Mrs Trish O’Dowd. The students are predominantly female and receive assistance with their coursework and extension/individual tuition and conversational English where needed.

One universal need of all people presenting to Refugee Hub is employment. This is a complex need for these people as it means navigating English language competency, Centrelink, Job Active providers and previous skill and qualification certifications.  We work to assist with these needs where we can.

Each person has unique circumstances and needs an individual approach. This program provides the opportunity for us to offer the most value. However, it is a time-intensive program and can be implemented only once a significant amount of information has been obtained and a good relationship has been formed.

This men’s program aims to provide a dedicated weekly time for men to socialise and learn English. It has been running for 22 weeks with the format of a one-hour English lesson. It is followed by a barbecue where participants can establish friendships and connections with the hope that they  become a resource for each other. Participants then progress to an advanced level where they learn about workplace terminology and vocabulary in readiness for mentoring and work-placement opportunities.

Our Pathway to Independence workshops aim to give information and provide a pathway to independence while negotiating everyday life. During the year we successfully conducted a legal workshop outlining the process for making a will and

establishing a power of attorney. Gilbert and Tobin Lawyers (Sydney) and Hunter Community Legal were very supportive in delivering this program.

We also have a number of other future workshops in the pipeline with topics such as budgeting and financial management for families, successful tenancy and home ownership, buying a car, parenting in Australia and tactics for drug and alcohol awareness.

As part of our recreation and cultural engagement, the Refugee Hub runs a bike safety workshop for the newly arrived in the July school holidays each year. There is the potential for additional workshops as needed.

Refugee Hub has also supported 12 clients through Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) to participate in a weekend beach/ surf safety workshop run over three weeks.

Lastly, during the 2018 season of Refugee Hub’s Community Soccer Project, 13 youths received funding for registration at Jesmond Soccer Club, club kit and additional soccer items from Kingsgrove Sport.

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Gary Christensen

Gary Christensen is the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Please visit