Immigration

'All my life is working': Syrian refugee doctor desperate to be able to practice in Australia

A medical specialist who fled his Syrian home after IS invaded is hoping to revive his medical career in Australia.

Not all memories of Qamishhli, northern Syria, are pleasant for refugee Dr Bashir Ahmad - but sifting through a few old photos revealing his distinguished career in internal-medicine is how the 60-year-old prefers to reflect.

”My dream is to continue my experiences in internal medicine here in Australia - I want to work here in Australia,” he said.

The Kurdish Syrian needs his English skills and qualifications approved by the Australian Medical Council before he is able to practice - leading to a frustrating career hiatus.

“All my life is working and now without any working I am hopeless,” Dr Ahmad told SBS World News.

The internal medicine specialist is now being directed to a range of services aimed at bridging the language and skills gap.

The program, delivered by settlement agency AMES Australia is still in the pilot phase, but career pathway advisor Iris Wan says the objective is to accelerate the return of migrants like Dr Ahmad to their skilled employment.

“Rather than five years we are looking at maybe two-and-a-half years. The key thing is to link them to all the resources and organisations they need so they can achieve it as soon as possible,” Ms Wan said.

Dr Barri Phatarfod from Doctors For Refugees says refugees who have endured trauma can benefit enormously from doctors who can empathise with their situations and experiences.

“Actually being in that environment yourself is very different and when a doctor has been in that environment they actually inspire that much more trust from the person concerned,” she said.

Dr Ahmad's decision to flee Qamishli was vindicated with the region battered at times during the war and doctors and professionals directly targeted by militants.

“They will kill you, they will kill your family, they will take your son, your daughter,” Dr Ahmad said.

Reviving a much-loved, 32-year medical career is how the Kurdish Syrian says he hopes to make his contribution. 

“I think it is my duty as a doctor and my duty as a Syrian refugee because I am one of victims in Australia and I must help all the refugee all the victim of the war,” he said.