Refugee Council of Australia
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The strength within: The role of refugee community organisations in settlement

Case study: Association of Hazaras in Victoria

Afghan woman in car driving
AHV’s driver education program for Afghan women Photo: AHV

The Association of Hazaras in Victoria (AHV) was established in 2002 when the community began growing rapidly in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Many Hazaras were on temporary protection visas (TPVs) at this time and had minimal support available, and the organisation was set up to provide a voice for this community and fill gaps in services.

Today, AHV’s main goals are: to assist Afghan refugees and migrants with their resettlement in Australia; bring the Afghan community together and promote their active participation in Australia’s multicultural society; and support human rights, democratic freedoms and the rights of ethnic minorities in Afghanistan.

AHV now represents nearly 3,500 Afghans, predominantly living in the south-east region of Melbourne, in the cities of Casey and Greater Dandenong. The organisation is run by a voluntary committee of management of 11 people who are elected bi-annually (i.e. there are no paid staff).

AHV has received a number of small project grants from various sources (mainly local and state government) and raises funds through sales and advertising revenue from a monthly magazine that is sold to the Afghan community Australia-wide. The operating budget of AHV in 2012 was just under $80,000.

The main activities of the organisation undertaken from this budget and run by volunteers from within the community include:

  • Publication of the Arman Monthly magazine with a readership of several thousand. This magazine in published in Dari, Pashtu and English and provides local, national and international information relevant to the Afghan-Australian community.
  • Andisha community language school held on Saturdays and teaching Dari and Pashtu languages to primary school aged children in Melbourne.
  • Driving education program assisting Afghan women (25-30 participants per program) with both driving theory and practice to enable them to attain their drivers licence.
  • English classes for bridging visa holders who are ineligible for other government-funded English programs, with classes run by volunteers two days per week.
  • Cultural events and festivals, including annual Eid and Afghan New Year celebrations.
  • Sport and recreation programs for young people, including supporting girls’ and boys’ volleyball and soccer teams and a chess club.
  • Casework, referral and translation, including assisting community members with family reunion visa applications and the translation of documents.
  • Advocacy with local, state and federal government about the needs of the Afghan community, including setting up a working group for bridging visa holders.

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