The latest at SCARF – December 2021

The latest at SCARF | December 2021 ☀

As this is our last newsletter for the year, I would like to acknowledge some people for their unique contributions to SCARF as their engagement with us will change in the new year. These are in addition to the extraordinary contributions made by so many others over the past year.

Firstly, let me congratulate Peete and Qassim. Peete is commencing is new career in the health sector beginning early next year, and Qassim has completed his doctorate studies and is briefly returning to Iraq to finalise his doctorate. Both Peete and Qassim have been great assets not just to SCARF but also to their respective communities in their community mobiliser roles.

Secondly, I would like to personally, and on behalf of SCARF, thank Sharon Bird for her tireless advocacy in her capacity as SCARF patron and as our local member in federal parliament. It is hard to fully estimate the value of Sharon’s support over the years; needless to say, it has been immense. I am sure you will join me in wishing her well as she takes a step back from the political arena. You can watch her valedictory speech here

Last week I had the pleasure of joining a good number of our volunteers for an appreciation morning tea in the office courtyard. To my surprise I got a bit emotional when trying to say thank you to the SCARF volunteers (and staff team) for their efforts over past 12 months. It was a reflection of how to close to being a family we really are and the relief of getting through such a challenging period and finally being able to meet members of the SCARF family in person again. 
We still face the uncertainty of a new COVID variant so please, at this special time of year for families, take care of yourselves and enjoy a safe and happy festive season.
I look forward to catching up with you all in the new year which is shaping as a really positive time for MCCI & SCARF refugee support services.




Thank you to Peete and Qassim for their contributions to SCARF. We wish them the best in their future roles.

Qassim is from Iraq; he started volunteering with SCARF in 2016, and in 2019 took on a paid position as the Arabic community mobiliser. Qassim has been proud to help and support his community. He has participated in a number of SCARF programs including coordinating social inclusion activities and his role involved providing support and translation services for members of the Arabic community. During the last year he has provided COVID-related support to assist community members in getting vaccinated, and also has also been providing support to the employment program, with a weekly Zoom catch up.

Peete has been a community mobiliser with SCARF since 2018 and is of Burmese origin. Peete says that he has loved his time with SCARF. He speaks Karen, Karenni, Ka yaw, Burmese and English. Over the last year, he has been translating for Burmese community members with the Let’s Chat program every Friday morning. During the lockdown period, his role consisted of informing, supporting and identifying people who were affected by the lockdown.




In the last year SCARF volunteers contributed 3500 hours of their time to support SCARF programs and services. This year we welcomed 72 new volunteers to the team. Our new volunteers bring exceptional skills, experience and new ideas that have enriched the already passionate volunteer community at SCARF.

Last week we held our end-of-year volunteer morning tea to celebrate the contributions of our volunteers. It was a positive end to a challenging year, and volunteers and staff alike were happy to be able spend time together and recognise the importance of SCARF family. 

And we want to say thank you to our long-serving volunteers who we recognise and celebrate for your dedication to the SCARF community.

Celebrating 10 years of service
Warren McPherson
Peter Stuckey
Celebrating five years of service
Amanda Bottomley
Ethar Al Mahdi
Alex York
Meredith Young-Whitford
Lyndall Caillat-Shearman
David Freeston
Jenny Perry


We are excited to announce that Active Connections activities are returning for SCARF and MCCI community members. 

Over summer we are running mixed activities every Tuesday from 4pm-6pm at Lang Park, Wollongong. The activities will be run on 11, 18 and 25 January. 

Activities will include outdoor fitness, bike riding, beach safety and a picnic with games and allow for a maximum of 40 vaccinated participants including their children. Childminding will be provided for all activities.
Please contact Zahra or Janne if you know anyone that wants to join. 
Zahra:; 0450432780
Janne:; 02 4283 8111



SCARF has received a $10,000 grant from the Westpac Foundation to establish a network of local businesses that are committed to creating inclusive workplaces and employment opportunities for people from a refugee background. 

SCARF has worked with and supported 100 people in reaching their training and employment goals the past year. Recently, a group of young women visited MCCI to hear about future opportunities in the aged care industry. Employment is essential for successful inclusion. Despite experience and skills from their home countries, refugees and migrants face barriers entering the labour market. 

“Social and economic inclusion can be life-changing, but without those professional networks it can be one of the greatest challenges of their settlement journey,” said SCARF Programs Officer (Employment and Training) Sophie-May Kerr. 

Are you a local business and would like to be involved? Contact Sophie May at SCARF on 4229 7566. 


Last month, MCCI was honoured with the Excellence in Workplace Culture award at the 2021 Illawarra Business Awards.

“This is a credit to each and every one at MCCI who, every day, demonstrate a passion for inclusion, respect, and teamwork”, said CEO Chris Lacey at the black-tie gala event at the WIN Entertainment Centre in Wollongong. 

“Reflecting on this terrific achievement, one of the keys to our success is that while we take our work and our responsibilities seriously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. While our work at MCCI is incredibly important for the community, there’s always fun and laughter in our workplace and, together, we remain focussed on supporting each other as well as our communities & clients.”

MCCI was a finalist for three business awards and won the Excellence in Workplace Culture jointly with Warrigal. Congratulations also to MCCI member Green Connect for winning the Excellence in Sustainability award. The organisation was also highly commended in the Outstanding Community Organisation category and General Manager Kylie Flament was this year’s Outstanding Young Business Leader. 

Watch this U & Me video about friendships at MCCI and our unique and wonderful work culture. 


SCARF relies on the generosity of volunteers to deliver all of our community programs and services. We present the SCARF Volunteer Spotlight: Elle

Even through Elle only joined SCARF in February this year, she has already clocked up a huge amount of volunteering hours!
At the start of the last lockdown, Elle was one of the first to put her hand up to support a young high-schooler as she navigated schooling from home, meeting with this student once a week.
Elle has also assisted within SCARF’s communications and media team, being available to take photographs at many events for us, often at short notice, and she has been instrumental in helping SCARF finalise our style guide before the end of the year. 
Thanks so much Elle for your dedication and positive energy, we really appreciate the enthusiasm you bring to the team!


We are excited to announce that SCARF will be returning to Bunnings Wollongong in 2022 for a fundraising BBQ for the first time in over two years!

Date: Saturday 5 February 
Time: 8:30am – 4:00pm
Location: Bunnings, 205 Gipps Street, North Wollongong
Cost: $2.50 per sausage sizzle, $1.50 per drink

Volunteers will cook sausages, serve food and drinks, collect money and talk about SCARF to hungry customers who want to know more about us. Come down to Bunnings and support SCARF, and tell your friends!

Come along, support SCARF and post a pic on social media to get your friends along. 


Shop now in the SCARF shop for Christmas or buy a special gift for someone these holidays. Everything in the shop is now 50% off.

The cut off for collecting merchandise from the MCCI/SCARF office is COB Wednesday 23 December. Posted items will not arrive until mid-January 2022. 

Grab a Champions of Welcome shirt, KeepCup, Champions of Welcome tote bag or a pack of gift cards designed by Najla Sbei who is originally from Damascus, Syria.

100% of proceeds from SCARF merchandise and gifts go to SCARF to support refugee entrants rebuilding their lives in the Illawarra. Where possible, SCARF works with local manufacturers and keep single-use plastic to a minimum. 

Postage available or collection Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm from 117 Corrimal Street Wollongong. Please select the postage option for contactless delivery. We accept credit card payment. 


Do you support the work that SCARF does? A gift of $40 a month will provide refugee entrants in the Illawarra with access to the services that will help them overcome the barriers they face and lead fulfilling lives here in our community.

Settlement in Australia does not guarantee a happily ever after, but SCARF takes the first step in achieving this. We offer friendship to build a sense of belonging and the support, services and tools that lead to independence and empowerment.