June 23, 2022

From Syria to Northern Health

This week is Refugee Week, a chance to highlight aspects of the refugee experience and to provide the community with an insight into what it is like to be a refugee.

For Wadeed Salboud, coming to Australia from Syria was the right move for his family. Despite the fear of the unknown in a new country, Wadeed has created a new life with his family, right here in Australia.

Wadeed lived with his wife and two children in Aleppo, a city in Syria. He had a clinic, a house, and was working hard to build a future for his family. However, war hit the country in 2011 and “everything in life changed.”

“Aleppo suffered. Sometimes there was no food or water. Most of the time, there was no electricity, no internet and most of the time, no phone calls,” Wadeed said.

“Life was dangerous. In 2013, Aleppo was considered the most dangerous city in the world.”

To get away from the war and seek refuge, Wadeed travelled on his own to Lebanon. “The trip between Aleppo and Lebanon at that time was dangerous because many people were kidnapped or killed. Fortunately, I arrived safely in Lebanon,” he said.

“I got a job there. I then called my family to come to Lebanon. They came to me after 40 days. But during that time, I was looking everywhere to try and get out of Lebanon.”

Wadeed made contact with the Australian Embassy, and after an interview process, he and his family were granted a visa to come to Australia.

“I arrived in Hobart in 2016. My concern at that time was how I can rebuild my future and career. But I was happy, because I knew I moved my boys to the best place in the world,” Wadeed said.

“Hobart is a very nice city. It’s very quiet and the people are lovely.”

During his time in Hobart, Wadeed worked as an interpreter and was also studying for a dentistry exam, which he passed in November 2019. After the exam, Wadeed moved to Melbourne, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I suffered in the beginning. It was hard finding a job and accommodation. I couldn’t see my boys and family who were in Tasmania, as the border was closed,” he said.

“I ended up getting a job in community services, but I wanted to improve. So my friend referred me to Northern Health. I applied for a PPE Safety Officer role.”

Wadeed was initially employed as a PPE Safety Officer, then transitioned to a Ward Assistant and now works at concierge across the heath service.

“At Northern Health, I enjoy working with the staff and helping the patients. I am very helpful,” he said.

Jason Cirone, Chair of the Northern Health Refugee and Asylum Seeker Committee, is committed to raising awareness of the refugee experience among staff.

“Refugees and asylum seekers are a particularly vulnerable group within our community, as they have had to abandon their lives and home countries in pursuit of a new life in Australia, free from violence, trauma and persecution,” he said.

The Refugee and Asylum Seeker Committee is a Sub-Committee of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee. It is aimed at improving the inclusion, care and wellbeing of refugee and asylum seeker staff and patients at Northern Health.