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Wollongong social worker taking her message to the world

Published: 31 July 2018

A Wollongong self-care project which helped Syrian refugees deal with past traumas could soon be delivered internationally.

That’s the hope of project leader Nina Trad Azam, who will talk about the ‘Self Care for Refugee trauma to Self-Actualize’ project at the International Metropolis Conference in Sydney in late October.

“It is an honour to be invited because it is a recognition of my work and it is a recognition of my gratitude that the Primary Health Network had faith and trusted me that I would be able to design and deliver a really important project that is scaleable and transferable to other kinds of trauma,” she said.

Mrs Azam said the successful six-month project was the first of its kind to take a three-pronged, specialised and culturally appropriate approach to the therapeutic processing and integration of trauma.

“One of the reasons I wanted to be part of the conference is because United Nations representatives will get to see my concept model,” she said.

“I’m hoping they will see the potential for it to be used with refugee camps that they run.

“The beauty of my project is that it can be run in any language and I will be happy to train up other social workers or mental health professionals in the culturally appropriate competencies and skills to be able to deliver this.”

The project’s success also had a lot to do with the development of 90 Hope & Resilience cards.

“Only 10 of those cards are religious and faith based because that is their identity and their strength so we have to be authentic in recognising that,” she said.

“The rest of the 80 cards promote universal, humanistic values based on psychology. That’s what makes them transferable to anyone.”

Ideally the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) member would love to see the cards be made into posters and used to help not only refugees, but others dealing with trauma, including people affected by domestic violence.

“I'd love to see these in posters because there are many benefits to these cards,” Mrs Azam said.

“They help teach English and Arabic to anyone. They promote social cohesion and they promote respect for the feared other.

“Importantly they minimise or demistfy the human values that refugees bring – that really they are not that different to average normal human beings who are not refugees.

“At the end of the day the cards are still inspiring the same message of hope and resilience – a message which I think most appreciate.”

Global Migration in Turbulent Times is the theme of the 2018 International Metropolis Conference which runs October 29 to November 2.

Article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers