Settlement Services International (SSI) hosted their New Beginnings Festival at the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) on Saturday.
The festival showcased Australia’s leading talents from refugee and migrant backgrounds, including First Nations hip-hop artist Barkaa, Australian-Sudanese musician Gordon Koang and Armenian-Lebanese jazz composer and artist Zela Margossian.
The event included dance performances, artisan workshops and cultural food and markets.
The visual artist and Iraqi refugee Raneen Shamon – who joined SSI’s arts and culture program in 2019 – facilitated a workshop at the festival.
Raneen uses drawing and painting to create an immersive art experience.
Festival Ambassador Shyamla Eswaran said this year’s theme ‘Where You Belong’ invited the public to take part in a broader conversation through art and culture.
“This year’s theme is important as it creates a safe space to facilitate open and broader conversations about what it means to find common ground and intersecting experiences as different people living across these countries known as Australia,” said Mrs. Eswaran.
“First Nations, refugees and migrant / settler experiences each represent a fundamental thread in the rich tapestry of so-called Australia, yet these stories and voices are not sufficiently included, represented or centered in the mainstream.”
ANMM Head of Programs and Website Activation Bill Harris said through their partnership with SSI that they can “strengthen national migration history” by helping newcomers and building awareness of the experience of migrating to Australia.
“We share a passion for cultivating an environment that enables new migrants to understand their new country and create structures that can help them in the process,” he said.