Australia is highlighting the contribution made by refugees who have made a new life in the country to mark World Refugee Day.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) says that Australia has history of resettling refugees and people in humanitarian need, and recognise the achievements of humanitarian entrants who have driven innovation, built successful businesses, or achieved academic success.

By the conclusion of the 2015/2016 programme year, Australia will have resettled more than 840,000 refugees and people in humanitarian need since the end of World War II and many humanitarian entrants have built successful careers in business, sport, education and in the community sector.


In 2014/2015, Australia resettled more than 11,000 refugee and humanitarian entrants from countries in current priority regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East and an extra 12,000 will be given visas to live in Australia from the wars in Syria and Iraq.

Refugees are also telling their stories. After fleeing Iran with nothing, Sima Mahboobifard has turned her passion for hand crafted bags into a successful business. "My life was hard in Iran because I am of the Bahai faith. During the revolution, my parents were fired from their jobs because of their beliefs. Before I was one year old, my father was killed," she said.

"Later, I was kicked out of school and our house was taken from us. We had nothing. My mum and I worked in aged care, but when Muslim people gave us a job, the government told them to fire us," she explained.

"That was why I started a business making and selling bags. The first bag I made was from a pair of my jeans. One of my friends then suggested I work with leather, so I started to make and sell leather bags to survive," she added.

In 2011 she fled to Turkey and was granted a visa for Australia where she decided to restart her bag making business. She funded it through the Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative which found the equipment and leather she needed, then helped her buy them.

Sam Eisho has built a successful construction company that gives back to the Australian community. In 1996 as a newly married 28 year old civil engineer he fled Saddam Hussein's regime and civil strife in Iraq. Sam and his wife spent three years in Turkey and Greece before resettling in Sydney through Australia's Humanitarian Programme.

Faced with the challenge of making a new life for himself in Australia, Sam studied for a builder's licence and found work in the construction industry. Sam went on to establish SR Construction, an innovative construction company that now employs more than 40 staff and 100 plus subcontractors.

SR stands for Social Return, which reflects the company's focus on social development and providing employment and training to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through its training and development programmes, SR Construction equips underprivileged people with practical skills, experience and qualifications that boost their self-esteem and employability.

Sam's life has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, from fleeing persecution in Iraq to developing an impressive record of achievement in Australia, including innovative social and economic contributions.