Michael came to Australia from Syria as a refugee. Despite being blind from the age of 12, Michael completed the arduous journey alone and without support. He is the advocate and spokesperson for the Waler Street Residents Reference Group. Michael appears regularly in the media, discussing the conflict in Syria and advocating for the needs of refugees.
“In 2000 I got a flat in the Collingwood high rise, and lived there for 18 months before I moved into Northcote.
When I moved into Northcote it was great.
The first day I met my neighbour, and elderly lady. Since then we have become like mother and son.
Over time I have come to know all of the people on the estate. We look out for each other and help each other where we can.
Being in public housing gave me an opportunity to complete my studies. I studied an Advanced Diploma in Interpreting and Translating at RMIT and a Diploma in Community Welfare at NMIT.
Having secure housing gives me a platform to seek work and to undertake voluntary activities, both locally and for public housing tenants more generally through the VPTA.
I say to young people in public housing that they should study, work hard and then move on. The great thing about public housing is that someone else can use your house once you have finished with it.”