A Refugee Week event organised by two Sydney immigration lawyers has raised about $9,000 for SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative.
The fund-raising event organised by Adriana Mercado and Marina Brizar, of Playfair Visa and Migration Services, featured a photo exhibition of former refugees who now live in Australia, as well as speeches, drinks and canapés.
Ms Brizar, who is head of the Corporate and Private Client section of Playfair, said it was the people from refugee backgrounds who they met every day that inspired her and her colleague to host the event.
“Our work as immigration lawyers – both in the humanitarian and corporate spheres – has presented us with an opportunity to meet incredible people, who make the most out of life,” she said. “In most cases, they make the most out of a second chance at a peaceful and prosperous life. We see the faces and know the stories behind the ‘migrants’ and the ‘boat people’ and the ‘refugees’ people hear about in the media, so we thought we’d share some of the best stories we know of with the wider community.”
Ms Brizar said she and her colleague chose SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups as the beneficiary of the event because they had worked with SSI in the past and knew of the work the organisation did.
“The Ignite program assists refugees with entrepreneurial qualities to start a business, build skills and grow their network in Australia,” Ms Brizar said. “This aim aligned directly to our hope that the Courage event would change perceptions.”
Ms Brizar said the event’s success had inspired the pair to go even bigger in 2016.
“It was humbling to have over 150 people attend the event. Attendees were from all walks of life – from a Federal Court judge to a child of a refugee, from a partner of a top-tier law firm to a busker. The event has inspired us to continue humanising the asylum seeker and refugee rhetoric in Australia and we very much look forward to a bigger and more far-reaching event in 2016.”
SSI General Manager Peter Zographakis said SSI was thankful for the support of Ms Brizar and Ms Mercado.
“This was a great event by these two dedicated people, who clearly have a great sense of empathy with the people they work with and for,” Mr Zographakis said. “The money raised at this event will support newly arrived refugees to establish their own small businesses in Australia. This can be a huge boost for those individuals as they gain independence and security in Australia, and it can be a boost for communities through growth in jobs and commerce. SSI would love to have the support of this event again in the future. Thank you Marina and Adriana.”
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