Eighty clients from the Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC) in Sydney’s Newtown received donations of work-appropriate clothing, fashion styling sessions and career coaching from students and Success Coaches from Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University.
Some of the students and staff who participated in the initiative have their own personal connection to refugees. Business and Branded Fashion Design student 23-year-old Mohkamjit ‘Moh’ Singh’s family came to Australia as Indian refugees, while the initiative’s brainchild and Billy Blue Success Coach, Sarah Perry, had a father who was a refugee following the Vietnam War.
Approximately 120 kilograms of designer garments and smart casual business attire was donated by Billy Blue staff and students. Each ASC client received several items of clothing that were personally selected and styled for them by the fashion students, while Success Coaches reviewed their resumes and held discussions around careers possibilities.
More than 60 students across the Billy Blue/Torrens University network participated in the clothes drive nationally – sourcing donations from local businesses, brands and individuals. In addition, students were in charge of designing the collection points on campuses, managing the set-up of the clothes styling session at the ASC and handling the client bookings. This provided an opportunity for the fashion students to explore Visual Merchandising.
“Our students got an unexpected buzz from kitting everyone out! All clients left with at least one bag of amazing quality garments, not to mention a huge smile,” said Billy Blue Success Coach, Sarah Perry.
Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University has a philosophy of being Here for Good.
It says: We’re united by a belief in the power of education to change lives and we’re serious about making an enduring commitment to the communities we serve. To us, this is about purpose and permanence. We believe society is best served when our students, faculty, and our entire organisation use our collective skills and experience to create positive and lasting change. It was following the launch of another Here for Good initiative that the concept for the clothes drive came about.
The initiative also supported the students’ passion for sustainable fashion – taking an environmental, social and ethical approach to fashion.
According to Talitha Francis, Head of Delivery Service, Asylum Seekers Centre, “Over the past two years, the Federal Government has systematically cut back income support for people seeking asylum, who are not eligible for Centrelink benefits either. Finding work is vital. Without employment, people directly face destitution and homelessness.”
“The Billy Blue project is such a great initiative. With new clothes and styling, women are in a better position to look for work, go to interviews and fit in, in a new workplace.”
ASC job seekers have full work rights and are legally able to work in Australia. For most people seeking asylum, work is the only source of income.
About Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University
For more than 25 years, Billy Blue College of Design has attracted talented young designers and stand-out educators who live and breathe design. Courses are offered in communication (graphic) design, interior design, photography, branded fashion, or digital media design at campuses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Students discover how to use their creativity to generate great ideas and hone their creative abilities.
About the Asylum Seekers Centre
The Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC), located in Newtown, provides practical and personal support for people living in the community who are seeking asylum. Services include accommodation, legal advice, financial relief, healthcare, employment assistance, education, advocacy, food and material aid and recreational activities. During 2017-2018, the Centre supported over 3,200 people seeking asylum, including 814 children. More than 1,000 people were new to the Centre. People came from 91 countries, including Iran, Myanmar, and Pakistan.