Refugee Week
Portrait of Simon Shahin, refugee storyteller and National Ambassador for Refugee Council of Australia

Simon’s story

The Journey

Simon was born into a family with Assyrian and Arab heritage, in the ancient town of Saydnaya. He later moved to Damascus, to study Environmental Science. However, when anti-government demonstrations escalated to a full-blown war fuelled by external influences, Simon and his family were forced to leave their home in 2013. “Syria,” he says, “once known for its incredible safety, deep sense of generosity, and profound historical richness, was now literally razed to the abyss of desolation, destitution, and despair”.

They sought temporary asylum in Lebanon, before applying for refugee resettlement visas.

Arriving in Australia

In April 2015, Simon and his family received the life-changing news that they had been accepted to resettle in Australia. They arrived in Sydney in August 2015, grateful and overwhelmed with emotion.  They had left behind loved ones but looked forward to a new beginning. The transition marked the end of years of suffering.

Giving Back

Simon recommenced his academic career, graduating from the University of Technology Sydney in Electric Power & Renewable Energy. In February 2022, he secured a graduate position at TransGrid. His career in the power and energy sectors, including placements at Endeavour Energy, AusGrid, and AEMO, is driven by his passion for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Simon is also actively involved in various initiatives focused on Youth Empowerment, Refugee Resettlement, and Human Rights Advocacy, both nationally and internationally. He leverages his experience to connect refugees and migrants through sports, music, and art.  “As a child,” explains Simon, “I never imagined that my life will one day take the course of surviving, stampeding, and eventually settling. However, I am forever grateful for being granted this priceless chance of resettling in Australia—and for that, I continue to give back”.

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