Blogs (Media Centre)

RAISING HOPE: Former refugee to share story as part of unique TAFE NSW short course

TAFE NSW Wollongong

RAISING HOPE: Former refugee to share story as part of unique TAFE NSW short course

Former refugee Najla Sbie will share her story as part of a unique TAFE NSW Wollongong short course aimed at helping community services professionals better worked with forced migrants.

19 July 2021

A Syrian refugee will recount her harrowing journey to Australia as part of a TAFE NSW short course that aims to better prepare local mental health professionals and support services to work with forced migrants.

The TAFE Statement in Mental Health for Working with Forced Migrants, a one-day short course being offered at TAFE NSW Wollongong during August and November, has been designed to help students understand and respond to the mental health issues of refugees and other forced migrants.

While research into the psychological issues facing forced migrants is scarce, a BMC Psychiatry study found more than 50 per cent of refugees settling in Australia were suffering mental health conditions, mainly PTSD.

Najla Sbie, 40, fled the Syrian conflict in 2012 and after three years in Malaysia as a UN refugee, resettled in Wollongong in 2015.

Now working with Settlement Services International, Ms Sbie will offer her unique, firsthand perspective as a guest speaker at TAFE NSW Wollongong during the course.

“Family and friends are such important support networks in Syria but when refugees come to Australia, all that is gone,” Ms Sbie said.

“Add to that all the trauma they have endured and then all the other cultural changes, and it’s no surprise many have issues.

“It’s important those in the support sector really understand this when engaging with Syrian people.”

The Illawarra is one of the primary resettlement areas for Syrian refugees, who are fleeing an ongoing and bloody civil war, and persecution from IS.

TAFE NSW community services teacher Zeljka Cankovic, who arrived in Wollongong as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia in 1995, said the course empowered students to better understand the communities they served.

“The training is about making people more aware of the emerging communities we have here and the challenges they face,” Ms Cankovic said.

“It’s also about sharing the positive stories and what they can do to assist to make sure there are many more positive stories to come.”

For more information about enrolling in the course, call 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, (02) 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428