History of Companion House

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Companion House were donated $10,000 from Triple J's "Real Appeal", Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of
Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) in December 2001
Donations were utilised to provide services to young men from the ages of 13-20 who had…

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During Refugee Week in 2002, Canberra Museum and Gallery had an exhibition featuring the works of the Kosova Women's Crochet and Knitting group. The group was established to connect women who were part of the families with temporary visas.

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A guide written by TRANSACT staff member to provide and assist newly arrived parents into Australia. Utilised in several of the Safe Havens

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Guide written by TRANSACT staff members for health practitioners, utilised by several of the Safe Havens

Originally funded through donation and ran during the Summer holidays of 1995-1996

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Woman holding a broken Flip-flop and two children. The background is a blue sky, barbed wire, a fence and flora

Ocean with cloudy blue sky overlapped with stairs and various people engaging in different activities

Earth with streams of light emanating from a sapling growing from soil in closed hands

A woman gazes off to the distance while sitting for her portrait.

32 families participated in the Happiness Garden in Pialligo growing fresh vegetables and herbs both for themselves and to share with their communities. Community members also participated in an open day for the wider Canberra community, and a…

Companion House entered into an alliance with the University of Canberra to ensure five young asylum seekers were able to access tertiary education in 2016. This partnership will provide new options for asylum seekers in Australia.

Over 2015-16 they managed the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS) for the ACT. Under the IAAAS Companion House provided: 405 immigration advice sessions (most of these were focused on family reunion applications) and 9 asylum…

Companion House and partnering organisations received a 2016 ACTCOSS partnership award for their collaboration in careers advice and establishment of training pathways for young asylum seekers, as well as organising driver’s licence scholarships for…

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The ACT Parents and Citizens Council, the ACT Principals Association and Companion House cosponsored the 2016 Me and My School Forum. The forum succeeded in its aims to: foster a greater understanding of the difficulties and perspectives of families…

Linked asylum seekers and people from a refugee background who had visa cancellations to migration advice and legal support when needed. Also advocated for torture survivors and people with vulnerable mental health in decision-making processes.

Raised $10,000 at a fundraising dinner for emergency relief, which has helped to address the needs of asylum seekers.

Produced “Singing our Cultures”, a CD of songs for children in Arabic and Dinka, in collaboration with Sudanese women and the West Belconnen Child and family Centre.

Facilitated women from four communities to start participation in health screening and engage in physical activities such as tennis and Zumba

They completed the refurbishment of their medical service. The set up of a new medical room, replacement of ageing medical equipment and starting a new process for improving referral pathways to community GPs.

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In 2010 Companion House started offering the first Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS) in the ACT region.

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In 2010 Companion House moved to the Community Hub in Cook (41 Templeton Street Cook, next to the Cook shops)

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Artwork made up of clay tiles that all have unique designs.

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A quilt of 100 patched together squares, some have figures of women on them which are all decorated uniquely and in between the figures are patches of different cloths.

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Painting in an outback setting with a road and kangaroos. On one side of the road there is green grass and fighting and on the other side of the road there is desert and peace.

Green rose with Persian writing

Textile of two women and a child engaged in an unknown activity and a green background

Six squares of tapestry that have been framed for display, all with red outlines

Six squares of tapestry that have been framed for display, all with red outlines

Bird sitting on a branch. Everything is made up of different shells

Woman in a green dress sitting with yellow and red pots. Background is orange/yellow

Woman holding a broken blue thong and two children. The background is a blue sky, barbed wire, a fence and flora

A painting of an ocean with a cloudy blue sky overlapped with stairs and various people engaging in different activities

Painting of a blue globe with sapling growing from soil in closed hands

Sound Record - PGL.jpg
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Sound Record - MJ.jpg
141 minutes

Double sided flyer with map


historical background.pdf
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2006 07 ann rep.pdf

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1996 Transact started a dedicated children’s early intervention counselling program.

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Published “Companions in the search: a multidisciplinary guide to assist in the rehabilitation of clients who have experienced torture and trauma before settling in Australia.”
It's also been suggested that this is where the idea for "Companion…

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01 July Saturday – TRANSACT receives $48,000 Government Health Grants for 1995-1996. Published in Canberra Times ‘Annual Health Funding for Community Groups.’ A.C.T Health Minister Kate Carnell reported funds totalling $739,500 for 25 community…

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27th April Thursday – ‘Play Emotionally Trying’ article by Rachel Hill published. The article follows the process George Huitker (Actor) and Belinda Pearson (Director) take to understand the psychological trauma and torture that victims are exposed…

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25th March Saturday – Lions Club fundraiser race day at Queanbeyan race course for TRANSACT. Creating community awareness for the organisation as well as raising funds for their cause. A small Advert was placed in The Canberra Times in the ‘Fridge…

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21st March Tuesday – ‘Refugees Hide Grim Secrets’ Article published in The Canberra Times by Jacqueline Fuller. Interview with TRANSACT Director Michele Harris and statements from Svend Christensen, representative for International Rehabilitation…

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Companion House continued with their annual soccer tournament on World Refugee Day once again in 2010 with six teams from the Chin, Karen, Liberian, Mon, Sierra Leone and Sudan communities. 2010 was the first year that the Liberian team participated,…

1995 – TRANSACT Joins International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, an umbrella organisation sharing information and resources to combat worldwide torture and trauma and serve those who have suffered and need assistance.

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In June 2010 Companion House moved location from O’Connor to Cook.

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On December 10th 2009 Companion House celebrated 20 years with a festive evening including speeches, performances and refreshments.

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1995 - The agency established an onsite medical service and health reviews and integrated this with counselling services.

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Companion House ran two major health projects: The Healthy Communities Project and The Young Men Growing Project.The Healthy Communities Project focussed on health education for adults. The project covered topics of nutrition, a broad range of…

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Lack of affordable housing continued to be a problem in Canberra, however with the Refugee Transitional Housing Program helped in alleviating some of the problem in regards to finding housing for refugees.

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In 2009 ‘Companion House became the first non-government organisation to opt into the ACT Human Rights Act, agreeing voluntarily to be bound by the Act’.Read more about the ACT Human Rights Act here:…

2008 marked the first year in which the Mon and Karen communities had participating teams in Companion House’s Refugee Soccer Day match, along with the Sierra Leone and Sudan teams. Sierra Leone won the first match against the Sudanese team 6-2, and…

The Mon community was a small and young demographic so this program was started to give them assistance in regard to parenting and cultural transition for all members of family. Mon women experienced difficulties when it came to parenting due to a…

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25th June Monday – ‘The Link Gallery’ exhibited 44 refugee artworks until 2nd July and an article ‘Refugees’ Memories Revealed in Art’ was published in the Canberra Times on the 27th June, showcasing some of Natalia Silva’s artwork. Emma MacDonald…

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From August to December 2007 the Karen Group Program was run at CIT Reid to increase community bonding and build strength in the Karen community. The project was extremely successful and produced many great results. One Karen woman was able to get a…

Companion House developed the Refugee Transition Housing Program as part of a ‘tripartite agreement with ACT Housing and CatholicCare to provide transitional housing for six months for refugees and asylum seekers’. The program aimed to relieve the…

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19th June Saturday – Refugee Week Musical Launch ‘Canberra City Band’ Westfield Belconnen. TRANSACT gave a stage presentation.

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Companion House hosted a World Refugee Soccer day event with 300 people from refugee and soccer communities across Canberra showing up to participate in the event. One of the goals of the event was to bring the Sudan and Sierra Leone communities…

This project was developed to work with the Sudanese and Sierra Leone Communities in order to develop stronger social connections and increase access to African food stuffs. Both women’s and young men’s groups were held over the year where they could…

23rd June Wednesday – Refugee Week lunch with guest speaker Liv Ullmann at National Press Club Barton. Liv Ullmann is a Norwegian actress and Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. TRANSACT gave a presentation at 7:30pm that same day.

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High levels of Vitamin D deficiencies had been experienced in the community, to assist with this Companion House decided to develop a program for women. Issues cited by the women were; ‘lack of exposure were a lack of opportunity for sun exposure,…

19th April Monday – Advertisement in The Canberra Times, seeking participants for a production of ‘Death and the Maiden’ by Ariel Dorfman (Chilean) TRANSACT placed word in the paper asking for those who want to be involved in their planned production…

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As with all years Companion House offered events specifically designed for children. In 2004 these events included sports, rock climbing and a trip to the South Coast during the summer. They also ran holiday day programs.

During 2004 Companion House held a number of groups and projects:Men’s groups – In 2004 there were several men’s groups held. One was a psyco-educational group that assisted with depression and related conditions, creating a supportive environment…

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Companions Bk.jpg
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27th August Thursday – TRANSACT Annual General Meeting with guest speaker Roberta McRae. Roberta McRae was a former Australian Politician and the 1990 recipient of the Order of Australia Medal for service to Migrant Assistance. This advertisement is…

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Companion House sponsored a harmony day event with the Migrant Resource centre of Canberra and Queanbeyan. The event involved plenty of dancing, poetry readings and singing centres around harmony as a theme, as well as ‘multiculturalism and…

The BRITA Project was designed from an ‘international review of group based activities to promote young people’s life skills’. The project was initially designed in Queensland. From 2003 and 2004 Companion House took charge of implementing the…

In 2001 $10, 000 from Triple J ‘Real Appeal’ were given to the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma. Donations were used to organize two very successful bus trips for children and their families with over 100 participants.…

8th March Sunday – ‘Focus for Community Activities’ article published in The Canberra Times, article refers to TRANSACT being one of the many community based, sole-use tenants of the Griffin Centre. As part of the Griffin Centre write up, the page…

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Over the course of the year Companion House developed and implemented several successful programs for adults:Men’s social group – 25 men participated in the group that emphasised social activities, mutual support of one another and the development of…

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A 19 page illustrated guide is published by TRANSACT. “TRANSACT health kit : a guide for doctors and health professionals in providing treatment to survivors of torture and trauma / Torture Rehabilitation and Network Service ACT”

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Transact Bk.jpg
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19th June Wednesday – A small article in The Canberra Times written by Marion Frith, expresses the frustration TRANSACT are experiencing following a break in and all funds (Cash Tin) stolen, whilst they had clients depending on these resources.

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2nd October Friday – A short advertisement in The Canberra Times ‘Fridge Door’ information section, advertising Workshops being run by TRANSACT Half Day Workshop on Torture and Rehabilitation at Griffin Centre on Saturday 6th October, 9am -1pm for…

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26 pages

An Artwork of a green and brown hut.

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24th March Saturday – Grant received! TRANSACT received $20,000 from the ‘ACT Government's community grants scheme’ to train a network of health professionals. Joan Morris’ ‘Grant for Torture Therapy’ article published in Canberra Times, 24th March…

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1-Two people dreesed in red, matching clothes
2- Two people dreesed in red and pink, matching clothes
3- Two people dressed in yellow matching clothes and holding hands
4- Two people dressed in matching clothes side by side

29th October Monday – ‘Lives scarred by the terror of torture’ Megan Bird article published on Chi & Anh’s Vietnamese Communist Regime stories. The horrific account of two Vietnamese woman who witnessed and endured unimaginable torture at the hands…

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33 pages

15th July Saturday – FIRST AGM HELD: Gloria Oyarzun Story published in Canberra Times. The story ‘Nightmare Memories of Chilean Torture’ written by Amanda Lynch, tells of Gloria Oyarzun’s harrowing ordeal, having suffered torture and rape by the…

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UC alumna Diana Abdel-Rahman was the special guest speaker at the University's UN World Refugee Day morning tea.

Photos of each teams

Loka Chanmi is a refugee from Thai-Burma border who was helped by Companion House to set up a Cafe in Woden called Cafe Ink

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AFL and Companion House Partner Up for Holiday Program


4th July Tuesday – TRANSACT advertisement in The Canberra Times for their first AGM. A short piece featured in the ‘Fridge Door’ section of ‘A daily guide to life in the national capital’. The article gives a short description of the organisation’s…

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Community Development N/I

4-Tonne Project Fundraiser - Team behind the project
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