Looking out over Wollongong's South Beach, Najla Sbie feels at peace.
The 40-year-old fled the Syrian conflict in 2012 and after three years in Malaysia as a UN refugee, resettled in Wollongong in 2015.
In the years since Ms Sbie has come to love her life in Wollongong and resolved to do all that she can to "give back" to her "new community".
That's why she agreed to recount her harrowing journey to Australia as part of a TAFE NSW short course that aims to better prepare local mental health professionals and support services to work with forced migrants.
Now working with Settlement Services International, Ms Sbie will offer her unique, firsthand perspective as a guest speaker at TAFE NSW Wollongong during the course.
"Family and friends are such important support networks in Syria but when refugees come to Australia, all that is gone," she said.
"Add to that all the trauma they have endured and then all the other cultural changes, and it's no surprise many have issues.
"It's important those in the support sector really understand this when engaging with Syrian people."
The Illawarra is one of the primary resettlement areas for Syrian refugees, who are fleeing an ongoing and bloody civil war, and persecution from IS.
TAFE NSW community services teacher Zeljka Cankovic, who arrived in Wollongong as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia in 1995, said the TAFE Statement in Mental Health for Working with Forced Migrants, was a one-day short course that had been designed to help students understand and respond to the mental health issues of refugees and other forced migrants.
It will be held at the TAFE Wollongong campus during August and November.
"The training is about making people more aware of the emerging communities we have here and the challenges they face," Ms Cankovic said.
"It's also about sharing the positive stories and what they can do to assist to make sure there are many more positive stories to come."
Visit www.tafensw.edu.au or call 13 16 01 to enrol or for more course information.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.