To celebrate Refugee Week 2017 we introduce you to some of our staff who after making their own journeys to a new life in Bendigo now give their time to help and support others following the same path.

Learn what events we have planned for Refugee Week:

Today we meet Settlement Services worker Zahir Azimi.

What is your role with BCHS?

My role is providing settlement services to newly-arrived refugees and people from refugee background to build their skills to participate in Australia’s economic and social life.

I am working with refugees after their arrival in Australia to establish housing, employment, education, health assessment and orientation to Australia.

Being from refugee background myself, I can understand the settlement challenges of new arrival refugees in Australia.

English is the key for them to fully participate in Australia’s social life and be able to find employment.

They are entitled to 510 hours of free English classes through Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) which most of our clients are using their hours after their arrival.

I also work in Secondary Settlement Services with refugee and non-English speaking migrants up to five years of their arrival in Australia.

We are providing services like housing, employment; advocacy, health referral, information sessions and case work on clients need bases.

We also run regular groups activities for youth, children, women, men and other group activities under BCHS Settlement Services Program.

What is the best thing about your role?

I am proud and honoured to be part of Bendigo Community Health Services Settlement team; which provide professional and best settlement services to refugees and other non-speaking English migrants in Bendigo.

It makes me very happy; when I see my clients are settling well in Bendigo having secured employment and housing, their children are attending school and they are participating in social and cultural activates and add colours in Bendigo.

How has Bendigo Community Health Services helped you?

BCHS is a wonderful place to work. I am enjoying working at Bendigo Community Health Services. We are a great team. I have supportive and lovely colleagues and my managers Kaye Graves and Martine Street are very caring and incredible mentors, being working for more than four years together I feel our team like a family where every member of family respect, support and care for each other.

What are the most important highlights of your first few months in Bendigo after arrival?

I got employment at Hazeldene’s chicken farm when I first arrived in Bendigo.

I remembered BCHS Settlement team assisted me with short term accommodation, now I am helping other refugees and migrants to settle in Bendigo, I started work as a volunteer with BCHS and I completed my diploma of community services work while working at BCHS, now I am working full time here.

I found Bendigo great place to live and believe that it is excellent place to be settled as it is a welcoming place for people of refugee background and other migrants.

I live with my partner Tahira and we have many Aussie friends here, we often visit each other’s homes and share food.

What do you hope to achieve in the future through your role with BCHS?

I would like to study further to improve and develop my skills and profession in the future at BCHS.

What is your favourite place in Bendigo and why?

To be honest I love every part of Bendigo, it looks like our own beautiful town with amazing people.

We love walking around Lake Weeroona where we often meet other friends and also part number 7 in Kangaroo Flat where the Afghan men’s group meet on every Sunday afternoon’s to play traditional Hazaragi game Sangirag.

Meet more of our wonderful staff

To read more profiles from our refugee services staff click here

Learn more about BCHS

To learn more about the refugee and settlement services offered by BCHS please visit

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