From refugee to resident: A doctor’s journey in Western Sydney Local Health District

Elias Josef, a Junior Medical Officer (JMO) in the emergency department in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), recently started his first job in Australia on March 24, 2023.

However, his journey to this point has been one of great difficulty, as he fled Syria with his family to Lebanon due to the war.

After applying for an Australian humanitarian visa, they waited for the process to be completed before moving to Australia to start a new safe life.

Elias’s experience is not unique, as there are countless refugees who have fled their countries in search of safety and stability and it is for this reason events like Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood (event details for WSLHD staff below) are so important, as they allow people to understand the realities of the refugee experience.

“I believe it helps people to understand why we ‘refugees’ have become refugees, what we go through, what difficulties and dangers we face in our birth countries and until we get into a safe and stable place.”

That’s only if a man is lucky to get that, given that there are still lots of people suffering.”

For other refugees in western Sydney who may be struggling with their new lives in Australia, Elias has a message of hope and support saying, “Believe in yourself because I know that we are strong enough to build a new safe life for us in Australia.”

Speak up and seek help when it is needed because there is no shame in asking for help throughout our new journey in our new home.”

As a community, there is much that can be done to better understand and support refugees in western Sydney.

According to Elias, this involves being open-minded, understanding, and non-judgmental with “Listening and acknowledging the different experiences” also being crucial.

“I know that every human being on this planet has their own struggles, but the refugee experience can be extremely terrible and different, something you as a person have never experienced or come across,” he says.

“Maybe your ancestors, neighbours, friends or family have, but it’s not the same as walking in someone else’s shoes.”

Elias’s story is a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of refugees who are forced to flee their homes in search of safety and stability. By taking the time to listen and understand their experiences, we can help build a more inclusive and supportive community for all.

Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood event details for WSLHD staff:

The Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood project is coming to Westmead Hospital. Book your tour today! WSLHD with the City of Parramatta and NSW Refugee Health Service are pleased to invite our health staff to participate in the unique learning experience of Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood.

Tours will be taking place in the Westmead Education and Conference Centre on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 April 2023.

Register here (third item down)