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From Surviving to Thriving: Refugee Journeys

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‘Western Sydney MRC had the privilege to collaborate with the South Western Sydney Wellbeing Collaboration and other partners to deliver such a successful Health Symposium “From Surviving to Thriving: Refugee Journeys”

The aims of the Symposium

  • To focus on ways to strengthen mental wellbeing
  • To bring together refuges, asylum seekers and local community services to develop recommendations for policy makers and organisations
  • Identify issues and solutions
  • Hear about and build on strengths of the refugee community
  • Discuss the diverse challenges to wellbeing
  • Develop strategies for collective impact

The Symposium was held at Liverpool Hospital and opened by the MC Kamalle Dabboussy– CEO of Western Sydney MRC, The Welcome to Country by Wendy Morgan- Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council, Dr Mitchell Smith-NSW Refugee health and Julie Robotham-NSW Mental Health Commission.

Key note speakers

There was a variety of speakers, from refugees sharing their successful stories From Surviving to Thriving, one of the keynote speakers is  Professor Munjed Al Munderes:

In 1999, Prof Al Munderes was a young surgical resident working in Baghdad when a squad of Military Police marched into the operating theatre and ordered the surgical team to mutilate the ears of three busloads of army deserters, when the head of surgery refused, he was executed in front of his staff. Munjed’s choices were stark- comply and breach his moral and medical oath of do no harm, refuse and face certain death, or flee. That day, Munjed’s life changed forever. He escaped to Indonesia, where he boarded a leaky, overcrowded refugee boat to Australia, He hoped for a new life, free from fear and oppression, but for ten months he was incarcerated in Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia. There he was known only by a number, 982, locked in solitary confinement and repeatedly told to go back to Iraq.

On 26 August 2000, Munjed was finally freed. Now, he is one of the world’s leading Osseo integration surgeons, transforming the lives of amputees with a pioneering technique that allows people to walk again.


They were 14 workshops presented by many Doctors, University Professors and professionals from Refugee services and community Centers:

Men’s Wellbeing, Fitting In, Living in Uncertain Times, Lining Ability and Wellbeing, Mental Health in the Community, Resilience, Positive Ageing, I’m Settled, Policy and Wellbeing, Faith and Inclusivity, Engaging in Sport for Wellbeing, Guarding against exploitation, Education, Business and Opportunity.


The audience enjoyed their lunch by listening to the Choir of Love, A combination of voice and instrument and a delicate blend of Eastern and Western rhythms and sounds.

Other than the lucky Door prizes, The playback Theatre by Out of the Box performers, was a great experience to wrap up the session, it was both beneficial and fun and quite emotional, to perform the audience’s experience of the day through movement, mime, metaphor and music.

A follow-up session, will be held at Western Sydney Migrant Resources Centre, on the 20th of November at 10am.

About Western Sydney MRC

About Western Sydney MRC Western Sydney MRC is a not-for-profit organisation and community advocate supporting newly-arrived individuals and diverse emerging and established communities to settle in Australia. We work with people who experience vulnerability, including individuals from a refugee background, those seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, assisting in building capacity to live empowered, informed and connected lives.

Media Enquiries

Media enquiries can be directed to:
Rachel Haywood,
Marketing and Communications Manager,
Contact 0456 222 080
Email: rachel@wsmrc.org.au

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