Saad Aqrawi

Case Manager

"From the moment we landed in Sydney, I felt I had my life back."

Imagine if every day you felt unsafe. This was my life in Iraq. After surviving a kidnapping attempt and then receiving a death threat, my family and I we were forced to leave our country. My mother, brother and I escaped to Jordan, leaving everything behind; my job as a Maths high school teacher, my home and everyone we knew.

Life in Jordan was difficult. As refugees, we were not allowed to work, having to rely on our savings to survive. And then there’s the waiting; will we be deported back to Iraq (like many families we saw), or wait up to six years to be accepted in a new home country? I decided to focus my time learning English – and waited.

Fortunately, after two and a half years in Jordan, we were sponsored to migrate to Australia. From the moment we landed in Sydney, I felt I had my life back. No more war, militia, or death camps. We were safe – for the first time in my life!

Settling into our new country was made much easier with the support of Settlement Services International (SSI). I was also fortunate to be invited to participate in the SSI Allianz program which supports people from refugee backgrounds to achieve independence. It was a four-day course that helped me think big, work with a team, get involved in the community, and develop and present ideas. Thanks to this program, in June 2019, I was offered to join Allianz as a Cadet within Workers Compensation Government Services. When I heard more about the Case Manager role – that it was all about helping people - I was excited to get involved. I recall on my first day at Allianz having to choose one picture that represented how I was feeling. I picked a child standing in front of Disneyland. You could see how happy he was, but also a little bit afraid. That was how I felt - very happy, but also a little uncertain about the future with a new home, job, language and culture.

I’m now enjoying my role as a Case Manager, and even training and mentoring new cadets joining the team. When I first speak with a new client, it’s important to always put myself in their situation and show understanding. I clarify as much as I can and make sure they know “I’m here for you.” Seeing my clients return to their jobs and normal life after completing treatment and knowing you helped with that – it’s a very beautiful feeling. I hope to keep learning at Allianz through gaining more experience while also helping more people.

I love that the culture in Australia is rich and diverse and I don’t feel discriminated for my religion or how I look. And I’m grateful for Allianz’s sponsorship of SSI and what the program gives to new arrivals. I wish more companies would do this – giving trust, jobs and hope to the community. To see how beneficial having hard-working ‘new-citizens’ on their team can be.