Settlement Services International (SSI) is a community organisation that helps new Australians achieve their potential. At h&h, we have many SSI students. They are typically refugees from other countries, and they are so special. Despite many of them experiencing great hardship in their life, they remain so positive.  Marcel, who is 30 years old is an SSI childcare student with our Registered Training Organisation, has been in Australia for eight months. She arrived via Dubai, after fleeing war-torn Syria eight years ago.

“We lived in Dubai for eight years,” she explains. “But they then stopped renewing our visas. We either had to go back to Syria, which was so dangerous, or come to Australia. We applied to come here twice and we were so lucky to be accepted. My family – me, my husband and my seven-year-old son – are now safe here in Australia.”

From Syria to Settlement Services International Childcare Student


Marcel knew she wanted to work when she arrived in Australia and definitely wanted to work in an industry where she was able to contribute to the health and wellbeing of others. Through SSI she discovered h&h and became one of our SSI Childcare students.

“We found out about h&h through SSI. I am now doing a Cert III in Early Childhood Education and Care. I worked with children in Dubai, I taught people to learn Arabic, so I was naturally drawn to childcare.’


Settlement Services International Team Spirit

Marcel says her experience at h&h has been nothing but positive!

“I love studying at h&h. The staff and students are so friendly, supportive and welcoming. Many of us come from different cultural backgrounds, but it is so inclusive. Many of us are here through SSI so we have similar backgrounds in that respect. We understand the struggles that we have all gone through. It makes it easier for us to connect and support each other.

Course Highlights

While Marcel loves all aspects of her course, she says the practical is by far her favourite.

“Work placement has been my favourite part of the course so far. I loved the theory of course, but actually dealing with the children in a real-life setting was wonderful.

“h&h is so supportive, they ensure we know everything. I recently had heart surgery and h&h staff called to check on me to make sure I was OK. I had palpitations and a condition that was brought on from the stress of living in Syria.”

Marcel’s Advice

For anyone in a similar position, looking to find a safe place to live and/or start a new career, Marcel says, “Don’t sit and say, ‘what should I do, where should I go?’ Just ask questions, open the door and ask people how you can improve and learn. You will easily find lots of opportunities!”

Settlement Services International

SSI Student and refugee, Marcel, who is studying childcare.

Marcel’s Future
Marcel sees nothing but positivity in her future, which is indeed looking very bright.

“When I graduate from h&h I want to work with children. I am very sensitive to their needs and I find I always learn so much from them. One day I hope to have another child myself.

In five years, I would like to have two children and apply to buy a home here in Australia with some animals. I also love that my studies will allow me to give back to children and their families.”