Today is World Refugee Day, and apparently a ‘record’ that has been broken.
A new United Nations report overnight calculates that, in 2017, the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes around the globe came in at a record rate of 44,400 per day.
There are no World Cups or gold medals in this arena. But today is a very good day to consider a tax deductible donation to The Social Studio, a remarkable Melbourne-based venture (and colourful fashion label) skilling and empowering people from refugee backgrounds.
The Social Studio is Daily Review’s 2018 charity partner. You can donate now here.
An energetic social enterprise based in inner-city Melbourne, the modestly funded training hub uses the platforms of fashion, design and clothing production to teach skills and resettle people from refugee backgrounds.
The Social Studio is an exemplar for the creative industries, fusing compassion with a very practical response to the global refugee challenge.
Mathan knows – viscerally – what the UN statistics signify.
More than a decade ago, he was a work in his tailor’s shop in regional Sri Lanka when a frightening gunshot seared through his workplace.
Due to his ethnicity – he was Tamil – he was a target in a rural town beset by outbreaks of civil conflict. He was forced to flee, and sought asylum in Australia.
His father was a tailor and so was he, and Mathan found a new incubator for his skills at The Social Studio.
“The Social Studio is an amazing place for refugees, they give you opportunity to study for free and support for free, it’s like a home when you don’t have a home,” he says.
Through The Social Studio, Mathan was introduced to the bespoke Melbourne-based jeans manufacturer Nobody Denim and was employed as a machinist.
Eight years later, he works as their factory manager with around 50 people under his supervision.
From asylum seeker to taxpayer: Mathan’s refugee journey represents a seam in an Australian journey that our political masters in Canberra should take note of on this day.
(Image: Young Rohingya refugees look out over Palong Khali refugee camp, a sprawling site located on a hilly area near the Myanmar border in south-east Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell)