"As a refugee I have nothing to lose and I’m really grateful for that, to have this opportunity to be here and experience a nice freedom."
Damian McDermott

SBS Voices
27 Sep 2018 - 6:00 AM  UPDATED 24 Jun 2020 - 1:28 PM

For those seeking asylum from persecution, being able to call a new country home is an invaluable gift. Five refugees who now call Australia home told SBS Voices what they're most grateful for. 

Mehdi, Iran

"When you step out of your house, you are living in the whole world. You can see different people, with different backgrounds, with different cultures.

"You can feel, you can talk, you can stand up for your rights. As a refugee, I have nothing to lose and I'm really grateful for that, to have this opportunity to be here and experience a nice freedom."

Holla, Uganda

"I'm grateful for the people. You meet people who are really amazing and who genuinely just want to help you."

"I was learning how to speak English and I was a little behind but I had a teacher and she was willing to help me."

Apajok, South Sudan

"The sense of community. You have people in a local community who reach out and say, 'hey what can we do to help and support you guys?'

"Our local church did a homework club program once a week. Teachers in the local area would come and spend two or three hours to help tutor us."

Roza, Kurdish region of Iraq

"My ESL teachers. My uni lecturers."

"My first year of uni, I still had my high school ESL teacher coming and helping me with my assignments and checking them for me."

George, Syria

"Australia has given me another land which I call home now.

"I was doing a speech for students from the North Shore who hadn’t seen any refugee in their life. I told them, when you see refugee next time, just go and hug them and say to them ‘I am your friend’.

"So one day when I was walking in Darling Harbour I heard someone was calling 'Ginger George', which is my nickname.

"I turned around and I have seen a young girl and she looked at me and then she came to me and she hugged me and she said ‘I am your friend’."


Who Gets to Stay in Australia? airs over four weeks starting Wednesday 1 July at 8.30pm on SBS and On Demand.


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Who Gets To Stay in Australia? will be subtitled in simplified Chinese and Arabic and will be added to the subtitled collection on SBS On Demand, available immediately after its premiere.


For information about settlement in Australia, in your language, visit sbs.com.au/settlementguide