Young achiever recog­nised for help­ing refugees

FI­NAL­IST IN YOUTH AWARDS

Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - Front Page - Aaron Cor­lett

SO­PHIE Ste­wart be­lieves she has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to help dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple in the com­mu­nity.

The Bur­swood res­i­dent re­mem­bers her par­ents run­ning a home­less shel­ter in Vic­to­ria Park.

“I grew up in Vic­to­ria Park and I re­mem­ber see­ing first-hand the so­cial is­sues such al­co­holism, sub­stance abuse, mental health is­sues and how they were con­nected with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” she said.

Ms Ste­wart (23) has taken it upon her­self to help refugees, after run­ning the Young Chris­tian Stu­dents cam­paign to End Im­mi­gra­tion De­ten­tion of Chil­dren from 2014 to 2016.

She was the founder of the Stu­dents for Refugees UWA while fin­ish­ing her hon­ours in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and cre­ated the off­shoot Swim for Refugees pro­gram, which runs on Satur­days at the univer­sity be­tween Fe­bru­ary and June and Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber.

“It started after I had a friend from Afghanistan who loved to fish but she was wor­ried about fall­ing in the wa­ter and drown­ing,” she said.

“So much of our lives in WA hap­pens around the wa­ter whether that’s near the Swan River, swim­ming at Cottes­loe Beach or go­ing to pool par­ties.

“It can be dif­fi­cult to in­te­grate as a new mi­grant if you don’t have those skills.

“It’s a joy­ful mo­ment to see peo­ple hav­ing so much fun and see­ing that shared ex­pe­ri­ence of achieve­ment. I never leave there not smil­ing.

“I be­lieve that I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to help the com­mu­nity be­cause I’ve been lucky to be sup­ported by my friends and fam­ily.”

Ms Ste­wart works as the cam­paign co-or­di­na­tor at So­cial Rein­vest­ment WA, which is a coali­tion of 17 not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tions which are work­ing to­gether to find so­lu­tions and ad­vo­cate for clos­ing the gap on Abo­rig­i­nal in­car­cer­a­tion.

Ms Ste­wart has been named as a fi­nal­ist in the WA Youth Awards in the Com­mu­nity Lead­er­ship cat­e­gory.

“It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing and un­ex­pected to be a fi­nal­ist, I feel hum­bled,” she said.

The win­ners will be an­nounced on Oc­to­ber 12.

So­phie Ste­wart grew up in Vic­to­ria Park and re­mem­bers see­ing first-hand so­cial is­sues such al­co­holism, sub­stance abuse, mental health is­sues and how they were con­nected with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

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