Australia Day

26 January 2015

86 days to go

Emily Conolan

In April 2011, Emily Conolan heard the news that an asylum seeker detention centre would be opening in Tasmania.  As an English as a Second Language teacher for refugee youth, Emily understood the challenges faced by asylum seekers and wanted to express the warmth, generosity and open-mindedness of the Hobart community.  And so, the Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support (TASS) Network was born. Today, the Network that Emily founded has 240 registered volunteers who participate in friendship and recreational programs for asylum seekers as they settle into the community.  Volunteers support a range of outreach programs, such as Adopt a Tassie Family which connects unaccompanied minors with local families.  Another program brings refugees’ stories into Australian classrooms to encourage empathy and understanding. A ‘buddy program’, regular workshops on art, gardening and maths, and a Bridging Visa Social Club also support asylum seekers.  Through Emily’s ongoing contribution, she has demonstrated the true Australian spirit – bringing people together to share and care for a common humanity.