The Drum revisited the Al Daoud family in Gosford, six months after their arrival under the CRISP program, to find the family settling joyfully into their new home. Despite never having been to school before, George and Elinor had quickly adjusted to their new routine. “We was a little bit worried,” says George, “because we don’t know anything about it. And now everything is good in Australia!”
“After one week, says their mother Ramia Al Romhain, “all class friends” – “All school!” chimes in their father Shadi Al Daoud.
Their parents have also felt very welcome. “From first day,” says Shadi, “everyone smiles, smiles – ‘hello, hello, welcome!’ I speak to everyone: ‘I am sorry, I am not good speak English’ . No problem, no problem! Welcome!”
The panel discussed the enthusiastic uptake of the CRISP program by communities across Australia.
“Its great that we have those community programs, that was the most beautiful…” said Sydney Morning Herald Columnist & Senior Writer Jacqui Maley. “There has been so much nasty divisive rhetoric in this country around refugees I hope that’s turning a corner … One of the things I was struck by, looking at that beautiful report, is that we don’t often see positive depictions of the ordinariness of refugees integrating into communities like that. I think there are so many communities across Australia that want to embrace them and to have a program like that that formalises them and gives them a bit of government money is really sensible and that’s the key to success of integrating refugee communities.”
Senior Lecturer in Economics at RMIT Leonora Risse commented that. the grassroots nature of the CRISP program was essential to its success. “If we look at diversity and inclusion policies,” she said, “if they’re imposed from above, you’re not guaranteed to get that special ingredient, which is community receptiveness and that community enthusiasm and warmth and guarantee that it’s going to be well received and embraced. So these examples here are wonderful in that they show that magical, that very special ingredient is there, it’s coming from the community, there’s an authenticity and sincerity in wanting to welcome these refugees.”
First aired on Thursday 9 March. Watch the full segment below.