Soussan’s journey from Afghan refugee to empowered individual


In 2016, Soussan fled Afghanistan with her five children following her husband’s disappearance, seeking refuge in Pakistan. They arrived in Australia on a Humanitarian Visa in 2019. Soussan, grappling with deep trauma and grief, was visibly depressed and withdrawn. Hindered by illiteracy and language barriers, she relied entirely on her eldest son for social interactions and was reluctant to connect with her local community.

Client situation

Despite severe undiagnosed headaches and declining mental health, Soussan dedicated herself to caring for her children, overlooking her own wellbeing. With the support of a Settlement Practitioner providing trauma-informed care, referrals, and emotional support, Soussan’s adult son received assistance in navigating agencies and education pathways, alleviating some responsibilities.
Participation in driving education and transport programs boosted Soussan’s self-confidence. Involvement in sewing and embroidery led to the exhibition of her work at the National Gallery of Victoria Fashion Now, earning her a short-term casual job with Social Studio and giving her the opportunity to earn an income.



Overcame language barriers

Involvement in driving and embroidery programs boosted Soussan’s confidence, paving the way for employment. Her paid job and exhibition showcase elevated her mood, fostering self-assurance to actively engage with the community and reclaim agency.

Improved mental wellbeing
Overcoming obstacles to employment and social engagement, Soussan gained confidence, purpose, and a sense of belonging. Significant self-assurance, joy, and laughter mark Soussan’s celebration of success, reflecting improved mental health.
Strengthened community connections

Soussan actively engaged in the driving and embroidery programs,which enabled her to make connections with community members. She participated in social activities and expanded her network of women with similar interests and backgrounds.

Enhanced financial stability and independence
Participation in SECL programs empowered Soussan to recognise her skills, fostering a path to employment and greater independence. Rediscovering her skills, Soussan embraced the opportunity to earn a salary, becoming the first woman in her family to do so.

The Settlement Engagement and Transition Support program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.