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친구야 같이가자!!

Written by News

Poster

1. 프로젝트 개요
 A. 목 적
  1) 어학연수의 기회를 얻고자하는 한국 학생 및 취업준비생에게 어학연수비 일부를
지원해주고 한국 학생들과의 문화 교류의 장을 개최.
2) 어학연수비 지원과 보이스 매거진의 프로젝트에 적극 참여하는 학생들에게 해외 인턴쉽
채용 기회를 제공.
3) 함께 가는 친구들이 많을수록 저렴한 가격으로 프로젝트 진행.

B. 추진 내용
  1) 워크샵
– 프로젝트 간단한 소개 및 간담회 개최.
– 어학연수 계획 및 등록 진행.
2) 인터뷰
– 섭외 동의자에 한 함.
– 한국 출발 전 인터뷰 촬영.
– 보이스 매거진(호주)과 한국 학생들(한국)과의 문화 교류.
3) 어학연수 (8주-12주 과정)
– 호주 시드니에서의 어학연수.
– 어학연수 기간 중 다양한 문화의 유학생들과의 교류.
– 어학연수 기간 중 보이스 매거진(호주)과 한국 학생들(한국)과의 교류 활성화.
– 생활비를 벌 수 있는 기회와 해외 인턴쉽 및 취업의 기회 제공.

2. 프로젝트 계획
 A. 보이스 매거진 지원 내용
  1) 어학원 비용 25% 감면.
2) 편도비행티켓 제공.
– 선착순 3명 (인터뷰 촬영자에 한함.)
3) 별도의 생활비를 얻을 기회 제공.
– 신청자의 한에서 자세한 설명 가능.
4) 많은 친구들과 함께할 시 보다 할인된 가격으로 숙박 시설 예약 가능.
5) 비자 발급 업무, 숙박 시설 예약 업무 대행.
6) 12주 이상 공부를 원할 시 워홀/학생 비자 발급 관련 업무 대행.

B. 지원 자격
 1) 만 18세 이상의 한국인
2) 어학연수를 희망하는 한국인
3) 호주로 떠나고 싶은 한국인
4) 저렴한 가격의 어학연수 기회와 해외 인턴쉽/취업 기회를 받고 싶은 한국인
5) 다양한 문화권의 외국학생들과 문화 교류를 희망하는 한국인
 

신청서 및 기타 자세한 사항은

joobin.jang@voismagazine.com.au로 이메일을 넣어주시면 담당자가 바로 연락드리겠습니다

 

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Time to break the taboo – World Mental Health Day

Written by News, Student Life

                                                              “Mental Health begins with me”

World-Mental-Health-Day

Mental illness is a real thing. It exists. Unfortunately, most people pretend like it doesn’t. A stigma has been created by society surrounding this topic. But what’s most bizarre is that society suffers such illnesses yet the non-acceptance of it comes from society itself. The world seemingly creates its own problems and taboos.

#nofilter

But why do taboos exist? Let’s break this down:

When someone has a mental illness, it means there is a problem in the brain or psychological system. With that being said, everyone assumes that if something is wrong with your brain, it means you are not in control of yourself and that is viewed as a lack of discipline or lack of control of self, which is ultimately viewed as a weakness.

Our brain is an organ, just as our heart or liver is one. If something is wrong with any other organ of your body, you get it treated. The same goes for your brain. Mental illness is an issue with your health, NOT a part of your identity. It is something that requires assistance and there is no shame in reaching out for help.

With that being said, World Mental Health Day is of 10th of October, which focuses on education of mental health, tackling the stigma around it. This day encourages people to take a step looking after their own mental health and well being which they deserve.

You can do this by making a promise to yourself that breaks down the steps in taking care of yourself. You can post this post this promise on the promise wall, social media or just to yourself.

Not the only oneThis promise is yours and yours alone, and you’re doing this for yourself and no one else. These are small goals you set for your general mental wellness all in the way, you can reach out for help or try to improve yourself. Its the small steps that matter when walking towards the bigger picture which is your life. So set those goals, have faith in yourself, help yourself, love yourself and give yourself all that you deserve.

Feature image credit: http://www.sensoryoasisforkids.com.au/october-2015/world-mental-health-day/ 

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7 Heart-Touching Moments At Rio Olympics 2016

Written by News

This year’s Olympics, like every other, has been beautiful and significant. However, this time, it has hit many amazing milestones that show the world’s desire for unity and peace. Many instances have made historic achievements, fought against stereotypes and inspired all of us to push harder and reach the goals we want to achieve. With Rio now over, let’s look back at 7 instances which had touched the hearts of people world-wide.

rioolympics

1/ The first Hijabi to represent USA
Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first female athlete to represent the USA while wearing the hijab, a traditional Islamic garment. Muhammad has battled many cases of Islamaphobia in her daily life. However, she did not want such things to get her side tracked and lose hope in diversity, stating that she wants her team to be “as diverse as the community I grew up in.”

IbtihajNot only did she compete in the Olympics but she is also a part of a progressive movement that addresses a sensitive issue: Islamaphobia. She may not have won gold (she won bronze), but she has made Olympic history and won the hearts of a million.

2/ Unity in diversity 

In a display of Olympic sportsmanship, this picture shows two women, clad in two different attires, playing the same sports in the same field and with the same level of hard work and determination. They have different values, yet their value is measured by their will and spirit. This picture has become one of many iconic images of the Olympics, and that shows the symbol of unity everyone wishes to have in the Olympics.

2 cultures same achievement

3/ Winning Gold
When it comes to wishing to compete in the Olympics, it is a massive burden to reach Olympic state level and represent your country. However, one promising swimmer makes it look so easy. Joseph Schooling, met his idol, Micheal Phelps when he was only thirteen.

Little Schooling

Little Schooling

That day must have been fantastic for him back then, but not as amazing as the day he beat the idol himself. Schooling took first place with a Games record of 50.39 seconds while Phelps scored 51.14 seconds.

Annnd upgrade!

Annnd upgrade! It was Singapore’s first gold medal!

Getting inspired by your idol to work hard is cool, but winning gold against them is just another level of amazing.

4/ Sportsmanship between North and South Korean athletes
Despite the controversial history North and South Koreans , Gymnasts Lee Eun-Ju and Hong Un-jong did not let it get in the way of an adorable friendship.

NK SK GYMNASTS
Another incident was when the North Korean competitive shooter, Kim Song Guk, who won bronze said something that caught the hearts of millions. After South Koreas Jin Jong Oh had won gold, he said, “If the two (Koreas) become one, we could have a bigger medal”. “If both the gold and bronze medals came from one Korea, it could have been a much greater win.” A perfect example that politics should not divide people. This is another example of the united spirit of the Olympics.

NK SK COMPETITIVE SHOOTERS

5/ Saudi Arabia’s first female athlete to compete

Kariman Abuljadayel is the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the 100m track field in the Olympics, creating history for the Middle Eastern world.

MY GURL

Many have praised the lady for the effort she put in and for aiding breakthroughs in stereotypes surrounding women in Saudi Arabia.

6/ Egypt’s first woman to stand on the podium

Sara Ahmed has also made Olympic history as the first Arab woman to win a medal in weightlifting and for being the first Egyptian woman on the rostrum. The 18 year old won bronze in the woman’s  69-kilogram weight class by lifting a combined weight of 225 kilograms.

gurl power

Ahmed is another inspiration to women all around the world, competing in her hijab and unitard, winning bronze and a spot in Olympic history wearing her religious identity proudly. Moreover, like Muhammad, she is a part of a progressive movement that fights against Islamophobia.

7/ The first-ever Refugee team

“Being a refugee does not mean you are not a human being.”

– Rose Nathike Lokonyen

For the first time, in the Olympics, there was a refugee team on the list. With the increasing political unrest around the world, this team is a symbol of hope for those who have fled home in order to save themselves. The members each have an inspiring story to share about their determination for survival from their dire circumstances. This comes to show that everyone just desires to live and wish to have a place to call home.

march

The crowd gave the 10 member Olympic refugee team a standing ovation as they marched into the Maracana Stadium for their first time. Regardless of whether they won a medal or not, they won the fight of their lives. And that, is simply amazing.

refugee team

The team consists of Yusra Mardini, Popole Misenga, Yonas Kinde, Rami Anis, Yolande Bukasa Masika, Yiech Pur Biel, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, James Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen

Congratulations to all participating countries. Hopefully, in the future, there will be more amazing moments to come!

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“No Compensation For Thousands of International Students”: The Airlines Ticket Scam

Written by News

Earlier this year, January 2016, in a letter sent to the NSW Police, more than 300 international students around Sydney and Melbourne had been cheated when buying airline tickets via Facebook ‘Vi Tran’. However, last week the culprit has been caught and convicted.

10624955_135297306845884_5498841298700494731_n

This woman, who went by the name Vi Tran, was convicted of 313 counts of fraud, misappropriation of up to 466 000 AUD and has received 18 months of Intensive Correction Order. Detective Nolan Bennett, from Sydney Property Investigation Team of the NSW Police, explained this punishment as a detention at home. It includes 32 hours contributing to community service per month. This can be a considered as alternative constraints (detailed at the State Parole Authority Justice pages of NSW).

1930338_949199305167102_1893615068976121045_n

Victims unable to claim money back

Unfortunately, although My Truc Le was ordered to refund the damage to the victims, the highest amount that the local court could obtain was $100 thousand dollars ($100.000 AUD).

According to Detective Nolan, it may not be possible that the victims will receive any compensation.

13977781_1187378061283726_1466016731_o

Because, even if the Court ordered (compensation), but if the defendant can not pay, then it just turned into a command debt…Despite knowing that it will cause frustration for you (the victim), but the police we can not do anything to help you get back the money.” – Detective Nolan stated in the letter that was sent to the victims.

The account under MY TRUC LE name

The account under MY TRUC LE’s name

When the case became widespread on the news earlier this year, My Truc Le’s family in Vietnam had promised to refund money to the victims. However, there has been no sign of this compensation.

giphy (14)

Detective Bennett Nolan also added that, if they want to pursue it to the end, they must follow it as individuals. However, he also reiterated, if the defendant does not have money, then things will be difficult.

In April 2016, when the case was first heard, SBS News held an interview with Toan Nguyen, a lawyer. His answer as to whether the victims will receive compensation was that it would be unpredictable.

Due to my experience, the chance to be compensated at 100% is rare. Also, there may be no authority or organisation for compensation.

giphy (5)

Except for those people who have purchased any travel insurance, they are possibly claiming money from their insurance depending on the insurance policies of those who bought airline tickets.“- said by lawyer Toan.

To those who wished to to pursue and reclaim their lost money, individuals are advised to contact a lawyer or visit the Access Law Section: Does someone owe you money?

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UPDATE: No Fines For Late Census form Submission

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

Last night around 5:00 pm Sydney time, the website abs.gov.au stopped responding and the phone lines were down because millions of people who are living, working and studying in Australia were trying to submit their Census form before its due date.

Screen-Shot-2016-08-09-at-9.08.19-pm-960x540

And at 8:00 pm, the website completely crashed because it was overloaded. The system breakdown had left behind numbers of confused and terrified living inhabitants, and the census issue was all over social media platforms last night across Australia with the hashtag #censusfail. Some international students gave up after continually logging and refreshing the Internet server and seeking friends’ assistance.

Untitled11111111

So is there a fine after all?

After acknowledging the problem, the Census Australia Facebook page has continuously updated their situation and announced “There will be no penalties for completing the Census after August 9. There’s still plenty of time to complete the Census.”

Untitled1111

According to Chris Libreri, general manager of the Census and Statistical Network division from news.com.au: “No one has ever been fined for being late with their Census form, the fines are only if you eyes-open refuse to a Census collector.”

ABS has informed people that the final date for completing the Census form is 23rd September 2016. So there is still plenty of time to fill in your accurate information and submit it without a 180 AUD per day fine.

giphy (3)

What if I accidentally threw the letter in the bin or I haven’t received the form or the code?

1/ A Census collector could knock on your door to ask you to complete the form.

2/You can contact the Census Inquiry Service 1300 214 531 (you might have to wait another two days for a call back)

This was how Facebook was done back in the day (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3717565/Australian-Census-2016-means-1800-fines-personal-information-kept.html)

 form (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3717565/Australian-Census-2016-means-1800-fines-personal-information-kept.html)

3/ You can revisit the website to order the form and code online

If you would like help filling out the form, give the Translation and Interpreter Service a call on 131 450.

 What exactly is the Census?

It's this thing (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/away-on-census-night-2016-8)

It’s this thing (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/away-on-census-night-2016-8)

It is a legal form that must be completed by every individual living in Australia on the night. The information collected creates an extensive database of details such as marriage status, religion (the only question that is optional), racial background and income. This helps determine where taxpayer money will be best spent – in health, transport and infrastructure, education and so on.

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International students and a fine of 180 AUD for not completing the Census?

Written by News, Student Life

What is Census?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will hold the Census of Population and Housing again this year. In 2016 Census will be held on Tuesday, the 9th of August. It is a legal form that must be completed by every individual living in Australia on the night. The information collected creates an extensive database of details such as marriage status, religion (the only question that is optional), racial background and income. This helps determine where taxpayer money will be best spent – in health, transport and infrastructure, education and so on.

http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/the-outrageous-fines-you-face-if-you-dont-fill-out-census-properly/news-story/c0deab26de8ee81f44c37a9a5ab1d990

That’s a lot of numbers. (http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/the-outrageous-fines-you-face-if-you-dont-fill-out-census-properly/news-story/c0deab26de8ee81f44c37a9a5ab1d990)

How does this affect me as an international student?

The Census aims to understand how many people are in Australia at one particular time – a “snapshot” of the population. Therefore, regardless of whether you are a citizen or not, if you are in Australia you must complete the form. This includes tourists, international students or those on working visas. By participating, you are helping the government and businesses have a better idea of what services to provide international students. Essentially, you help shape Australia’s future.

So what happens?

On August 1st, a letter from ABS may have been mailed to your household. It contains a 12-digit code unique to your address and allows you to complete the Census online. If you wish to complete a paper form, call ABS to request one or visit the website using the 12-digit code you have received. Simply complete the document and send it back using the provided envelope.

This was how Facebook was done back in the day (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3717565/Australian-Census-2016-means-1800-fines-personal-information-kept.html)

Snail mail – how Facebook messenger was done back in the day. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3717565/Australian-Census-2016-means-1800-fines-personal-information-kept.html)

But I’m not at home on Census night…

If you live in a:

  • Shared-house includes everyone living there on the form. Or you can call 1300 214 531 to ask for a personal login.
  • Residence you will be provided with a personal form with login details.

If you are:

  • Staying at another house on Tuesday, make sure you’ve been included on their Census as part of their household. Similarly, if you have guests staying over, include them on your form.
  • At an accommodation service – hotel serviced apartment, hostel or caravan park – you will be provided with one once you arrive.
  • In more remote areas ABS Field Officers will be posted at various locations or visit your home to provide paper forms or answer any questions.
  • Overseas on Tuesday the 9th of August, there is no need to complete it.

What if I don’t complete the form?

Since the Census form is a legal document if you miss the date, ABS will remind you of your obligation. If you still do not send the form to you will be fined $180 AUD per day until you do. If you provide the misleading information, you will be fined $1800.

I don't know about you but I don't have $180 lying around...unless it's for photos like this one (http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/filipino/en/article/2016/08/04/settlement-guide-10-things-know-about-census [AAP Image/Joel Carrett])

I don’t know about you but I don’t have a spare $1800 lying around…unless it’s for photos like this one.(http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/filipino/en/article/2016/08/04/settlement-guide-10-things-know-about-census [AAP Image/Joel Carrett])

 Changes for 2016: 

Details such as names and addresses will be kept in the database for 48 months now instead of 18 months. Some might be concerned about this decision, but ABS assures that identification will be a “very low” risk. Data will be “anonymised” as names will be stored separately.

Annette Kelly, Victorian Census Director, explains that ABS is required by law to keep all information strictly confidential. This means they are not allowed to share data with third parties such as “other government agency, court or tribunal” or even between the Department of Immigration or the Australian Taxation Office.

Additionally, by 2020 all collected information will be destroyed.

So that means I'll hid out until 2020 (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/away-on-census-night-2016-8 [ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images])

So that just means I’ll be in hiding until 2020. (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/away-on-census-night-2016-8
[ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images])

 Where can I find out more? 

Visit the official website here to read more about the National Census or the detailed privacy statement in your language.

If you would like help filling out the form, give the Translation and Interpreter Service a call on 131 450.

Featured image credit: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/07/26/what-census-and-why-do-we-do-it

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Only Opal cards from 1st of August!

Written by News, Student Life

Opal smart cards have been introduced following the complete phase out of railway paper tickets on the 1st of August. However, in the next couple of months will there be another payment option available as well?

The Opal card was based on London’s Oyster and introduced due to fare evasion and misuse costing taxpayers $22 million AUD a year. NSW Government looks set to follow in London’s footsteps once more. According to news.com, Sydney will trial the use of bank cards to pay for trips in 2017. This means that customers will be able to travel using their credit or debit cards while the use of personal bank accounts reduces the need to top up regularly.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/companies/experts-warn-of-fraud-lost-cards-and-card-clash-as-contactless-payments-for-travel-is-rolled-out/news-story/469a6e0a690ea4645621b15b7c66c84e

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/companies/experts-warn-of-fraud-lost-cards-and-card-clash-as-contactless-payments-for-travel-is-rolled-out/news-story/469a6e0a690ea4645621b15b7c66c84e

For the moment, railway customers must buy an Opal card or Opal single-trip in order to travel throughout Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands. Additionally, customers will not be able to continue using Pensioner Excursion Tickets or TravelTens from August 1st. They can, however, apply for a refund for unused trips before 30th October 2016 here. Tourists can also apply for an Opal card before arrival to NSW, or use the new single-trip tickets.

If you still have not used for an Opal card, using a single-trip Opal card may serve as a last resort. These can be bought on buses, and standard Opal cards can be purchased from 7-Eleven, Woolworths or online. However, some stations have not yet been installed with single-use Opal cards.  If you are caught without a valid ticket, transport officers will be able to fine you.

Twitter: The Opal Card User (TheOpalUser) https://twitter.com/theopaluser/status/712483713595080705

Twitter: The Opal Card User (TheOpalUser)
https://twitter.com/theopaluser/status/712483713595080705

Other changes include the removal of free journeys after 8 trips. Now, customers will only receive a 50% discount if they take more than 8 journeys. Those who change transportation twice – a train to a bus, for example – in one trip (and within one hour) will also receive a $2 discount instead of needing to pay twice.

Due to the success in London 2014, the bank card system was exported to other cities. However, the technology will not reach regions outside of Sydney for some time. Melbourne, Brisbane and other cities will need to remain with smartcards due to their older technologies.

Even though the potential use of bank cards is an Australian first, Londoners are already using their smartphones to pay fares instead of bank cards. Will Sydney do the same in the next few years?

http://i.imgur.com/neGkku5.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/neGkku5.jpg

Featured Image: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/d5fGYgFVyVU/maxresdefault.jpg

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Merge Termination: What next for Sydney College Arts?

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

Last Thursday, the University of Sydney’s (USYD) vice-chancellor, Michael Spence has announced the termination of the merge between Sydney College of Arts (SCA) and the University of NSW.

HOMER

The merge was proposed less than a month ago and secretly signed between USYD and UNSW in June without the consultation of students. However, the students recently received an email from Spence. He stated that the two institutions ultimately had different definitions of what a “centre of excellence in visual arts” meant. Apparently, the original intention had “always been…not to proceed…unless we were clear that the vision…would benefit both the University and visual arts teaching and research.”

According to Fairfax Media, the agreement only allowed students to continue studies at UNSW Art and Design as well as the transition of some staff to UNSW. But one industry source questioned the move, saying “If [UNSW’s contemporary fine arts curriculum] was inadequate from Sydney’s point of view, why did it not include these issues in the Heads of Agreement?”

1454796_10202214624503032_1392203594_n

Several influential people have also expressed their discontent. Greens MP Jamie Parker had no faith in the merge from the outset: “If the University [of Sydney] had properly consulted staff and students, they would have discovered the incompatibility of the art practices at the two schools.” Neither did he believe that UNSW had adjusted their syllabus to align with SCA’s studio-based learning or had sufficient space for the new students.

Sally Breen, a well-known art collector and sponsor, told Fairfax Media that she would be “far more swayed into putting money into art schools”. When SCA was threatened, she no longer pledged money to the Art Gallery of NSW’s (AGNSW) Sydney Modern building project. To protest the planned closure, students alumni and supporters had also gathered on the steps of AGNSW. The rally coincided with the award of the Archibald Prize to highlight the social importance of art.

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Although the merge has been terminated at present, Spence still states that talks of a merge with UNSW’s Art and Design may continue. Additionally, the future remains uncertain due to the planned movement of SCA students to the main Camperdown campus from the beginning of 2017. SCA’s original Rozelle campus at Callan Park will also be part of USYD’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Spence believes that this will “avoid unnecessary costs of remaining at Rozelle for more than a transition period.”1003188_659422267402083_130609927_n

Furthermore, Spence states that 2017 applicants will not be accepted for the Bachelor of Visual Arts “to create a re-imagined Bachelor of Visual Arts for commencement in 2018.”

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald 

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International Student suicides due to Permanent Residence Visa

Written by News, Student Life

According to SBS Australia, an Indian international student – Deepark Singh, committed suicide in his apartment last week Sunday. From close sources, Singe felt pressured by an inability to gain Permanent Resident Visa in Australia because of the updated Skilled Occupations List.

Pinterest: Émilie Asselin

Pinterest: Émilie Asselin

Deepark Singh had a dream to settle down in Australia. An education agent in India advised that studying would be a pathway to pursue his dream. Once Singe finished his diploma degree in Community Welfare he hoped to gain Permanent Residence in Australia after his education. Unfortunately, the new Skilled Occupations List changed annually and his major was removed from the list, rendering him ineligible to meet the PR requirement application.

hidden

Later on, Deepark got married to an Australia woman and received a de-facto visa status. He could then apply for PR and Citizenship in Australia. However, the Immigration Department denied his application and this led to an intense sense of frustration and depression. Deepark’s experience is just one of the stories of people who are struggling to seek a better life in Australia.

What is Permanent Residency in Australia?

An Australian Permanent Resident Visa allows an individual to work, live and study without any restrictions in Australia for 5 years. The person gains an automatic right of entry to the country at any time. However, after the time period ends, the PR visa holder must leave or apply to re-enter Australia. But, one can apply for Australian Citizenship certificate in advance one year after holding a PR visa.

Australian_Coat_of_Arms

Australia is considered one of the top countries to live in due to the many benefits that a PR holder can gain. The individual not only has a right to vote in the Australian election, but also gain benefits such healthcare, education, employment and other social securities in Australia.

 

How to apply for Permanent Resident Visa in Australia?

There are several of ways to apply for PR in Australia. Some options include options such as SkillSelect, Regional Employment, Bringing family with you, Sponsored or nominated work visa options, etc. However, you should always conduct in-depth research or seek professional advice and follow the steps accurately. For more information, please visit the Australian Government – Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

WALK

If you’re experiencing any struggles, or know someone who is, be sure to contact your university counselor (sessions are free and confidential). Or, you can call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or contact international suicide hotlines here.

Living in wealthy countries and having a good life is everyone’s dream.

But keep moving forward and never give up when chasing after your vision, your goals. Remember that everyone chose different paths, so don’t stress out or compare with each other. 

Great things take time to come, be tough and be patient! Every life is worth it.

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Eat Like A Refugee for One Week: Ration Challenge

Written by News, Student Life

My name is Sumaiyah Tasneem, and I have attempted the Act for Peace Ration Challenge of 2016. If I were to write this article talking about every minute of my experience, I could go on writing forever. But, let’s start with:

What is the Ration Challenge?

From the 19th until the 25th of June, contestants are challenged to eat the same rations as a Syrian refugee for a week and raise donations for them. In doing so, the participants will experience a small part of a refugee’s struggle and contribute awareness about refugee life. Through the power of compassion, we can show refugees that “we are with them, not against them”.

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The idea of the Ration Challenge is an initiative of The ACT Alliance, a network of 140 organisations and 130 countries. This foundation works to help communities threatened by conflict and disaster. Together with the Act for Peace, they hope to achieve easier lives for Syrian refugees. Act for Peace is an agency focusing on international aid which belongs to and is governed by the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) which consists of 19 member churches.

NCC

 

My experiences before the Challenge:

Initially, the primary focus for me were donations. As soon as I opened my fundraising page, I told friends, family, acquaintances, cat and dogs, anyone who would give a donation. Personally, the page had felt like direct access to help to the refugees, so I considered this challenge as one of the easiest ways to help people in need. I was busy encouraging everyone to donate to the cause in general, but I didn’t really sit down to think about what the Challenge would be like. I hadn’t fully comprehended how hard it would actually be. Logically, I knew that it would be painful as my Challenge Kit contained basic rice, flour, lentils, and oil. However, I didn’t know how painful exactly. I never knew food had such a significant impact in my life, and that hunger could change so many things. 

RATION PORTIONS

During the Challenge:

So, how does it feel doing the Challenge? To put it frankly, there is solid hunger involved. Usually, you only think about physical pain. You’re trying not to get side tracked and lose your focus (which is against the challenge’s rules of course). 

Whenever it was time to eat, I was baffled by the satisfaction I felt after simply having bread or lentils. I also found it extremely hard to sleep in such a state. On the first night, I slept on my stomach, but woke up numerous times because I felt my torso twist and turn painfully. 

aaahhhhh

Apart from the physical pain, there are many other obstacles involved when it comes to battling hunger. My mood was never fixed. I was always either happy or sad, angry or hungry, but mostly dull and sullen. Focusing on work or study was almost impossible. My mind was all over the place. One thought led to another, and at some point I realised that it could have been a refugee. This is what life is like for a refugee. It was terrifying to imagine their life in a war-zone additionally, constantly threatened by the potential loss of friends and family. It was almost too surreal even to consider. 

CONTRACT

After the Challenge:

I have realised that before doing the Challenge, there was a certain extent of ignorance about the experiences of refugees. But, if I hadn’t done this challenge, I wouldn’t have known how hard it is for them to live on such small rations. Residing in Australia, a developed country, I had the chance to live their hunger and a little part of the pain that comes with it.

tears of joy

Now, I see that life is incredibly complex when hunger is involved. And it’s not just food or physical hunger. It’s also the emotional suffering when having to bear these tribulations all at once. Not only do they have minimal food and no security of a home, but must also cope with the trauma of a war zone. These people are facing their lives now with raw vulnerability and an impending sense of doom. Being completely in the shoes of refugees is a lot harder than we could ever understand. I wasn’t acutely aware of the reality of the refugees. Perhaps no one truly can be until they have experienced it themselves.

The power of humanity is winning

I would encourage everyone to try this Challenge at least once as I believe we can ultimately help one of the most marginalised groups in the world. By understanding the experiences of the refugees, we can use our power as a society to change laws and sway governments in their favour. In participating in the Challenge, you can also help the organisations who can provide them with more food rations. If we don’t help, then who will?

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As of now, the current statistics on the Ration Challenge page show that $2,023,952 has been raised. That is enough to feed 7,254 refugees for a whole year! You can view the changing numbers here. If you wish to donate to the cause, you can sponsor some of the participants of the Challenge. Or, if you wish to attempt it in 2017, you can pre-register here.

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Photo credit: Sumaiyah Tasneem & ChiPheo & Huu Trong Nguyen

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