National Families Week in May was a time to celebrate with family, make contact with extended family and friends, and connect to activities within the wider community.
It was also a time to celebrate the meaning of family in a new country.
Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative, in partnership with the Benevolent Society, organised a family camp at Teen Ranch Cobbitty for seven refugee families, which included grandparents, parents and children of all ages.
The aims of the camp were to:
- bring the family together for three full days by playing and spending more quality time together
- make new friends and team building
- encourage the families to learn about the Australian and Aboriginal culture through fun activities such as building huts, making and cooking damper and bush walking.
One of the participants went fishing and caught two big fish which he cooked in the traditional Iraqi way and shared with everyone, including the camp staff.
Camp activities included rock climbing, archery, a giant swing, soccer and volleyball.
In the evening families enjoyed sitting around the fire and roasting marshmallows.
During the camp, adults were informed about essential mainstream services that families could access as well family oriented activities they could enjoy.
Participants young and old encouraged each other to actively participate in all camp activities, even if they were unfamiliar, such as rock climbing, archery and the giant swing — which was a way of building more resilience and self-esteem.
All participants relaxed and realised it was a safe and nurturing environment. Letting their guard down meant that laughter and screams of joy reverberated through the camp as they tried new activities.
“Aussie” activities such as bush walking, building huts in the bush, cooking damper and roasting marshmallows around the fire taught participants about the Australian way of life, which gave them the feeling of belonging.
“This is very special outing for us all. It took us away from our daily routine and stresses,” a mother of eight said.