Welcoming new arrivals to Armidale

Sitting man

Armidale man Matt Teece has his dream job helping newly arrived refugees and migrants establish their lives in the city.

More than 450 people have arrived in Armidale from countries including Syria and Iraq since it became a regional settlement location in 2017.

“They come to Australia and the first thing they want to do is learn English, they want to get a job,” Matt said. 

“At the end of the day they’re extremely grateful for the safety and security they now have and want to become important members of the community.”

Matt is a Multicultural Service Officer at the Department of Human Services.  When refugees and migrants settle in the area, he’s one of the first people they meet. He provides crucial support and access to government services at a time when everything can seem overwhelming.

“We work with the people from day one,” Matt said

“It’s absolutely amazing to go out into the community and sit down with these families and see how much they’re embracing their new life, how they want to give back to Australian society.”

Hasan Saffuk is one of the many people Matt has helped in Armidale.  He’s about to start work with the department as a Kurdish Kurmanji interpreter.

“When someone arrives to a new country that first time it’s like being without eyes, he doesn’t know what to do, so they did a really good job to get us information about the services here,” Hasan said.

This year marks 30 years of the Multicultural Service Officer program.  When the program started, there were only a few specialist staff working mainly in Sydney and Melbourne.

Now, 70 officers work in cities and regional areas around Australia.  Last year they helped more than 185,000 people. They also have strong links with more than a thousand community organisations which also support refugees and migrants.

Matt said he’s always loved travelling the world and learning about other countries, now the world is coming to him.

“I absolutely love it.  Every day you’re outside, you’re talking to people, talking to the community,” he said.  

“Every day is a challenge, every day is rewarding but I think the main thing is we see the difference we make.”

More information

  • You can find more information about our Multicultural Service Officers here.